Killer art but a lackluster story plagues Road of the Dead: Highway to Hell #1.
We learned last year right before George A. Romero passed away that his zombie franchise was going to continue with Road of the Dead. The film would be co-written by Romero but he would pass the director’s chair over to Matt Birman. Rumor has it that Birman still has plans to make the film, but let’s be honest, when was the last time you heard about the production?
What is the book about?
An over-the-top wild ride prequel to George Romero’s last film, ROAD OF THE DEAD! Written by Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author and creator of V-WARS. The dead rose and are feasting on the living. A young scientist may hold the secret to a cure. Zombies and biker gangs want her dead. A bunch of losers in muscle cars and a hijacked tank will risk everything to save her.
I scratched my head when I saw the world “prequel.” Hard to be a prequel to a film that was never made. But I was ready to push on.
Don’t you hate it when you are trying to take a dump and get interrupted by zombies? It happens to me all the time and I cannot stand it! Unfortunate for Armor Crewman Steve Hanson, it just happened to him. And the worst part is he is all alone.
After fighting off some of the undead, which happens to be his crew, he begins to dig a hole. I suppose to bury them, but if I am in his shoes, I am jetting out of there. While in the hole, more zombies find him and attempt to make a quick meal out of him when he is saved by a rugged crew that happens to be rolling with the one microbiologist that can save them all. But zombies aren’t the only things they need to fear.
The art. The artwork by Drew Moss and Jay Fotos is easily the best part of Road of the Dead. The characters are sharp looking, the zombies are creepy, and there is plenty of blood for horror and action fans alike. The colors are bold and add depth to a lackluster story. One of my favorite panels is a close up of two people arguing with each other. Only half of their respective faces are visible and they combine to make one full face on the panel. It’s a nice dynamic to intensify the scene.
Unfortunately, the story is the worst element of the book. There are moments when the characters show genuine emotion. Shawn is the guy who saves Hanson and there is a scene where Shawn details who he had to shoot down to survive an attack. He had to off family members and he tears up over it. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a drama, but to display emotion early on is a nice touch.
But skip a few pages and Harriet, the microbiologist, explains what is going on and during her dialogue it literally ends with “blah blah blah blah”. Well damn, what’s the point of the panel then? And why bother with the scientific theory? A minute ago, there appeared to be a serious side to the story and now we are “blah blah blahing” it up. I would have preferred to keep it cliché and make her a one-dimensional doctor over what I read.
The zombies are pretty gruesome! Moss did a solid job of making the zombies scary and feel like an immediate threat. No slow zombies here! These guys are fast and on a mission, which adds to the tension.
Unless you are a die hard Romero fan I suggest holding out for the trade. This are only three issues and outside of the artwork, there isn’t anything special happening in the first issue. I will ride out the series. I do hope that it picks up because I love a good zombie story.