|ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS No. 2, February 2015|
When a ‘new’ title’s first issue only sells approximately half as many copies as the publisher’s ongoing “My Little Pony Friends Forever” periodical then comic book commentators may well believe “Zombies Vs. Robots” isn’t all that enthralling a purchase. But what this anthology of separate short stories does do is phenomenally improve as the page count goes by and almost by accident the reader encounters the exploits of Rosemary and Bot-Bot in “The Orphan”; ten-pages of compelling survival in an unfriendly world of the walking dead, written by Steve Niles and competently pencilled by Val Mayerik.
Unfortunately in order to reach this ‘diamond in the rough’ the rather uninspiring, and certainly gaudy-looking “Inherit The Earth” has to be navigated first. A story which in many ways raises far more questions about the world’s fate following the dubious deployment of planet-wide nuclear bombs, than it answers. To begin with it is not at all clear how humans survived the apocalypse housed within the international space-station, and it certainly appears odd that the command pilot tasked with its well-being should set the orbiting habitat’s self-destruct as soon as his cryogenic sleep is interrupted? Perhaps he has gone cryo-thaw mad or possibly it is just a lazy excuse by Chris Ryall to create some ‘phony’ tension and force the crew to evacuate the safety of the computer-controlled environment for the potentially toxic atmosphere of the Earth.
To make matters worse, which apparently is possible, the artwork by Anthony Diecidue is entirely awful, especially when the cartoonist starts to illustrate the zombies being massacred at the Kirtland base. Stick-like figures which have been seemingly hastily drawn alongside a couple of ‘cross-shaped’ pencil scratchings is hardly splash-page stuff.
Far more pleasing, though just as ‘tough on the eyes’ is writer/artist Ashley Wood’s “Tales Of ZVR”, in which a small child, with his ‘pet meep robot’ leave their homestead to go in search of the boy’s Ma. At just two pages in length the story is simple, short and straight to the point. But strangely engaging especially as it ends with the infant venturing into the “spooky forest” whilst telling his questioning droid “I bet we don’t run into any trouble…”
Finally “The Orphan” is a far more traditionally scripted and drawn zombie story, and one in which it’s clear just how mentally ‘disturbed’ Rosemary is. For having gleefully brought Bot-Bot to her parent’s home, the robot discovers they’re not only dead but are zombies chained by their necks to one of the living room walls. The lumbering machine’s response is as instinctive as it is swift, gunning down the ‘manacled couple’ before a wailing child’s very eyes. But the young girl’s tears are swiftly replaced with fear as she realises the noise of her robot’s machine gun will attract swift retribution from any passing undead walkers… and indeed the comic ends of the pair surrounded by an increasing horde of zombies.