Escape of the Living Dead TPB Vol. 1

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Zombie comics seem like they are all over the place nowadays but only one of them can boast being written by the co-creator of the original Night of the Living Dead film, John Russo. That book is “Escape of the Living Dead” from Avatar Press and it’s a must have for any zombie fan. “Escape” is really a pre-Dawn of the Dead sequel to the original film, set in 1971, just three years after the original zombie outbreak. The story also returns to its roots being set in Pennsylvania.

The Zombie outbreak seems to have been defeated although we learn that at some point the government began to capture and contain the zombies, rather than kill them, much to the frustration of local law enforcement who can only speculate as to the reasons behind the government’s interest in the undead. A small outbreak at a medical facility leads local cops to Doctor Melrose who claims to have developed a serum to cure the zombie plague but, just before he dies, says the secret is with his son.

Away from this action, a couple of local biker thugs set their sights on a semi-truck they believe to be loaded with electronics. They devise a plan to hijack the truck and steal the goods, only when the truck is opened it’s not Hi-Fi systems and TVs they find, but a trailer full of hungry undead.

Meanwhile Henry Brinkman runs a local roadhouse that is just opening for the day when the zombies attack. His daughter Sally narrowly escapes the flesh-eaters as she and her father take refuge in the saloon, hoping that help will arrive. Instead, three more outlaw bikers including the leader Bearcat decide to crash the party and take Sally for their own. Now Henry finds himself in desperate straits, trying to keep himself alive and find his kidnapped daughter.

What I really enjoyed about “Escape of the Living Dead” was it truly captured the spirit of the original “Dead” film. It maintained a small scale, centering on this small community, just as the first film did. In other words it stayed with a formula that works. This graphic novel is truly GRAPHIC! Characters are torn apart and eaten alive in visceral fashion. It’s not a book for the squeamish, that’s for sure! Credit penciller Dheeraj Verma and inker Lalit for delivering the goods in exquisitely gory detail! I also have to give praise to Avatar Press for not filling the book with sketch pages, pinups, and other fluff, this is 120 pages of pure story and art. Avatar continues to be one of the leaders in horror comics.

Reviewed by Tim Janson

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