"28 Days Later: Volume 2 - Bend in the Road" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Illustrated by Marek Oleksicki and Declan Shalvey
2010, 114 Pages
Trade Paperback released on December 7th, 2010
When we last left Selena (one of the survivors of Manchester from the original 28 Days Later), she was leading an expedition back into London so a group of journalists can get in there and deliver the story of their lives. Of course, nothing goes as planned as the place is still mobbed by Infected, so the bulk of them are killed off within the first few issues. Now it's just Selena, Clint, and the now blinded and injured Derrick. The latter two go way back, so Clint can't just leave his longtime friend to die in this second volume, Bend in the Road.
This leads the group into shaky territory. Selena knows what needs to be done in order to survive here. She did it for over a month and there aren't many others that can make that claim. Clint has seen some shit in his time as a war journalist, but it's nothing compared to the Infected. He expects these people to behave like humans but now they're anything but. These are rabid beasts wearing the shells of people. Similarly, having someone like Derrick around is only going to slow them down and make them an easy target. The sooner Clint realizes that, the better off he'll be, but he just can't bring himself to let Derrick go after all they've been through, even if the guy is blind now.
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This volume of 28 Days Later brings up the age old zombie problem of real humans. We saw how awful people can be in the film, but we're reminded of the fact that often times the real danger does not come from the Infected but from those that are still living. In this case, the trio comes into contact with a family who has turned their house into a bit of a fortress. You can tell from the get-go that there's something strange going on and that these people definitely can't be trusted, but Derrick is sick and in desperate need of antibiotics, so Selena and Clint are left with no choice.
The momentum that was built up in the previous collection is lost here as the group has to take this major detour for meds. It was a bold move for author Michael Alan Nelson to kill off most of the team in the first couple issues. It really got things moving and put things in perspective. This is a dangerous place with very real consequences. After all that, we're left with Derrick who doesn't even know where he is anymore. Now instead of getting on with the whole purpose of this trip, we have to follow them on this wild goose chase.
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While the story lost some juice, the artwork kept things exciting. This graphic novel is split up between two artists, with Marek Oleksicki handling the first issue and Declan Shalvey taking care of the last three. Oleksicki gets to draw the chapter focused on Clint's backstory and how he got to this trip to London. He has this two-page spread that has no text that perfectly captures the terror spreading through England when the plague started. It has this woman reporter clutching a pole as dozens of Infected run towards her, filling the pages. It sums up everything in one shot. Shalvey has a pretty clean style and some great art direction. He jumps around, like having a camera pan around, so in the cases where there's a conversation between a group of people, there's a ton of different angles. It's a great setup which keeps things interesting during what could be a rather dry scene.
Bend in the Road feels like a bit of a misstep after how fast paced London Calling was. We're given a bit more of the histories of the surviving members of the crew, but an entire chapter devoted to Clint getting to England was unnecessary. There's more story here, but this was like a side quest on the journey to the goal. I'm hoping this picks up in the later collections as Selena and Clint (and possibly Derrick?) make their way to London.