There’s something refreshing about a comic book named Zombies vs. Robots.
The title alone evokes a feeling of youthful goofiness that is exceedingly rare in todays comic book scene. Just from the cover this comic tells me to relax and not take myself and comic books so seriously. Let’s take a look past the cover now and see, is it good?
Zombies vs. Robots #1 (IDW Publishing)
When AiPT’s very own Comics Manager David Brooke sent me my copy of Zombies vs. Robots, he said, “Interesting way for them to tell the story.” Without even reading it fully David was able to pick up on the fact that this comic was not told like any other; this is the comic’s defining trait thus, as it’s told in a bit of an unconventional, non-linear style.
Throughout the entire comic we follow a little robot who has been sent out to scout the dystopian landscape Earth has become, all the while talking with an unidentified contact. While the robot whirs around several destroyed buildings and roads, it details to the contact what brought Earth to its present, unseemly state.
There are several benefits to having this seemingly insignificant character narrate the entire first issue of this comic. For one, the robot brings a unique voice to the comic. If the author had been the narrator of this comic, perhaps the comic would be lacking in some of the wry humor that the robot is special for. Also, living inside the robot’s head gives the reader a sense of adventure and for sure made me feel more connected to the barren setting and the characters within.
The downside to telling the story through the robot’s perspective was that the exposition and “editorializing” that the robot deliver throughout the issue seems really forced and slows the story down to a crawl. I understand that it’s difficult to explain loads of information about the context to a story in a natural seeming way, but I couldn’t connect at all with the way that this story’s context was explained to the reader.
In terms of actual zombie fighting robot action, this comic totally delivers. The zombies in this comic are much different than any other zombies I have ever encountered, which makes them very compelling villains. They don’t have any humans to feed on, so they’re hungry all the time, which, strangely enough, makes you start to empathize with them. They are shriveled up, rotting and pitiful. Since their only source of nutrition has been depleted, they don’t seem so evil as much as just sad. And so when the robots fight the zombies, you start feeling rather upset for the hungry undead.
After the main story Inherit the Earth we are treated to two wonderful shorts to augment the universe the initial story was building. One of the shorts is written by horror master Steve Niles and titled “The Orphan.” Niles’ story was one of my favorite parts of this comic: it was quick, it had a heart, and it had punch. Without any of the minor clunkiness of the main narrative, this story delivered an equally satisfying tale that added some personality and tenderness to the world of Zombies vs. Robots. It should also be said that in a story featuring only undead or machines, it’s nice to have some human characters.
Is It Good?
Yes, this is quite an enjoyable comic book. It sends a breath of fresh air into the idea of zombies and despite some awkwardness in exposition, is a delightful read. The artwork is suitably drab but at the same time exciting and sharp. The artwork in the shorts at the end are also spot on.