Now here’s a mouthful of a title: Star Spangled War Stories Featuring GI Zombie. This comic is brought to us by great duo of Jimmy Palmoitti and Justin Gray, the guys behind All Star Western and Power Girl. I honestly really don’t know what to expect from this comic, being such an unusual title for DC to produce, other than it’ll at least be decently written. So, what do we have here? Is it good?
Star Spangled War Stories Featuring GI Zombie #1 (DC Comics)
In some place called Nowhere, Mississippi, a woman named Tiff is making friends with a local biker gang at a bar. They seem to be hitting things off when one of the gang members comes in, dragging in a federal agent that may have been spying on them. The gang leader wants Tiff out, but she wants in on the integration they are planning. However, this agent has an interesting secret.
After you finish reading this comic, I’m sure you are going to be wondering one big thing: this is a DC comic? Yes folks, this is not some indie comic that erroneously ended up with DC logo on it; hell, it’s not even Vertigo. This is a real, bonafide DC comic, and that’s probably both the biggest strength and biggest weakness this comic has. For those clamoring for DC to do something completely new and original, this is it. It’s a sort of military story involving a special military agent zombie who’s working to protect his country while also dealing with the fact that he is a zombie with zombie urges. Thanks to this originality and the feeling of being so far out of regular continuity, the writers have a lot of freedom to go far with it.
That’s the strength, but as far as the weakness: it’s almost nothing like a DC comic, even more so than previous war comics they’ve put out. There are no interactions or hints about the superhero universe has a whole, and the opening sequence feels like an FX or HBO show minus the swearing. It wasn’t until GI Zombie popped up that it felt remotely like a comic that DC could have published (in their Vertigo line, at least). For those wanting something new but still with a superhero flavor to it, this may not be for you.
I think I saw this once in Sons of Anarchy once.
But regardless, how’s the story and writing? Well story-wise, it’s interesting enough. I think it really starts picking up halfway through once GI Zombie is properly introduced and the plot feels like it’s kicking in. This is when we get into characterization and start going over why exactly the characters are there. It’s interesting enough, but the actual plot does not feel like it comes into focus until the ending. Plus, it feels slow moving and not very exciting at points. It needed a more energized opening to really hook in the audience (though it certainly has its surprising moments).
The writing is good for the most part. The main two characters are decent and they make us want to know more about them. Dialogue is solid, with decent lines and an occasional bit of dry but effective humor. The story structure and pacing are fine, but some scenes felt like they went on for either too long or not long enough. No awkward transitions between scenes or panels, so it’s smooth reading (except for one moment). Overall, what’s presented here in the writing and story is intriguing enough to encourage at least checking out the next issue.
The artwork is brought to us by Scott Hampton, who also does the coloring. It’s not my personal cup of tea and it has some odd moments with some awkward to straight-up missing faces on characters. However, I feel it works for the book regardless and does capture the spirit and tone it’s going for. It’s very moody artwork with the sense of haziness to it, really providing a lot of genuinely creepy and suspenseful moments. Layouts are alright and there is some decent and effective imagery in the book.
Is It Good?
Star Spangled War Stories Featuring GI Zombie #1 is a comic with a lot of potential to grow and improve. It has a good setup, intriguing characters, moody artwork, and it’s pretty dang original. It may not be exactly what everyone is looking for, but I do recommend it for those wanting to try something different.