|G.I. ZOMBIE No. 1, September 2014|
If ever there was a genuine case of hoping a comic book title was going to be ‘third time lucky’ it must surely be “DC Comics” agreeing to print “G.I. Zombie” as an ongoing series. For ‘the soldier hungry for war… and some brains too’ would never have seen the light of day if the American comic book publisher had not first cancelled “The Unknown Soldier” in May 2010 and then it’s re-imagining, ‘The New 52’ title “G.I. Combat” in December 2012. Perhaps even more miraculous however is that the company have also given the reins entirely over to Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; the back-up feature co-writers on the most recent series during its seven-issue run.
Fortunately there are a fair few differences between the contents of this title and its immediate predecessor. To begin with, despite the fact the comic carries the “Star-Spangled War Stories” logo on its cover, the horror/war story inside focuses solely upon the exploits of Sergeant Jared Kabe and his new partner. There’s none of the rotating cast and jockeying of creative teams which readers experienced when the title’s forerunner tried to depict the exploits of “The War That Time Forgot”, “The Unknown Soldier” and “The Haunted Tank” all within a single edition. G.I. Zombie is also an entirely new character, with a very fresh supporting cast and plenty of questions to be resolved by writers in future issues.
As a result this first issue doesn’t play out like a simple rehash of a past Unknown Soldier story. It is very different in content. Very different indeed and worthy of the Rated T+ warning on the front cover as the title character is literally tortured to death; well as dead as a living animated corpse can get anyway. Lastly this book is not about some super-heroic soldier simply rushing from one battlefield to another, wreaking havoc upon the enemy and implausibly turning the tide of the fight against all the odds. “G.I. Zombie” is all about fighting the enemy within, the subversive homeland terrorist, and the undercover lengths some modern day soldiers and secret agents need to resort to in order to keep their comrades and the larger national population safe.
Sadly the artwork of Scott Hampton is not good. Not good at all, especially when compared to the atmospheric main cover art by Canadian cartoonist Darwyn Cooke. The pale, single-tone colouring, also by Hampton, does not help matters either, as combined they make each drawing appear featureless, bland and (no pun intended) lifeless. There’s a real lack of detail to the penciling, with each figure simply being drawn with a striking black silhouette but no actual detail except for eyes, nose and mouth. Very lacklustre, very bare and disappointingly very unimpressive.