"28 Days Later: Volume 4 - Gang War" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Originally published as 28 Days Later #13 - #16
Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Illustrated by Alejandro Aragon
2011, 114 Pages
Trade Paperback released on June 7th, 2011
Selena, one of the survivors from the film 28 Days Later, has been leading a group of journalists back into London for the story of their lives. She's already lost a few members of their party to the Infected, leaving just Clint and the blinded Derrick. Their mission has stayed the same, but they're encountering more and more unfriendly survivors. The army is on their tail after they burned down a research facility where scientists were working on perfecting the virus to create unstoppable soldiers. Things could be better.
This volume of 28 Days Later has two main points. The first is the conclusion of Derrick's run. He's important to Clint and the two of them go way back, but he's been completely useless since losing his sight. Everyone, including Derrick himself, has said that it's only a matter of time before he gets the others killed. He's only slowing them down. I'm honestly surprised that he lasted this long. He's gone farther than any normal blind man should have been able to on an island ravaged by raging cannibals. Derrick's death was a foregone conclusion, so it was only a matter of when and how he'd go out. He definitely stepped up to really help Selena and Clint and accept his fate. It was a touching scene as he sacrificed himself so the others could get away.
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The rest of this volume deals with Selena and Clint arriving in Edinburgh and running into the gang that now rules the city. It turns out that a gangster has turned the city into a fortress, blocking the roads out with piles of cars and hanging traitors from an overpass as a warning to others that might try to take what's theirs. What's most interesting about this gang is how they deal with prisoners. Since Selena causes some trouble when she first arrives, she has to serve one night in the mannequin. This is a cage in the center of the city with a circle painted on the ground which Selena must stand in. The Infected run through the city at night and claw at her through the bars. The only way to survive is to stay completely still inside the circle.
While I loved the film, the 28 Days Later comic has started to drag. The first volume introduced a whole new batch of characters that were quickly killed off. Since then it's been a slow walk through England with obstacle after obstacle popping up to prevent the survivors from getting to their destination. The whole premise of the journalists getting a story seems silly now. After losing his entire team, Clint is still pushing forward, but will anyone even care at this point? The rest of the world knows that England is quarantined, but they don't know about the army's involvement. Even if he could write the story, who would publish it now?
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The other non-infected people that Selena and Clint come across are starting to add up. Gang War reminds me a bit of Fallout 3, in which humans are struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world and create their own society with its own rules. Selena and Clint have been bouncing from one place to another and ultimately killing whoever stands in their way.
Selena's past is still a bit of a mystery, but author Michael Alan Nelson provides little glimpses along the way. What was most interesting in this volume was how she dealt with the mannequin. Her mind took her to a pub where all of the friends she's had to bury along the way have gathered. She meets Derrick and the bearded guy from the movie, and even her husband David. They remind her of what she's fighting for and urge her to keep going.
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Alejandro Aragon picks up the art duties for Gang War. His faces can be a little uneven, but he nails the action. The two pages when Selena first enters the mannequin is the real stand-out scene of the book. The first page is a series of horizontal panels starting with a close up of her face, with a "Schhaauughh" sound of the Infected approaching. As the panels continue, Aragon pulls back until you see a hand claw at Selena and come up just shy of grabbing her. She finally opens her eyes in the last panel, tears streaming down her face and multiple hands nearby. The next shot is a full page spread of the Infected engulfing the cage. They're all around it and on top of it. It's terrifying and Aragon captures this perfectly.
I'm interested to see what turns are ahead for Selena and Clint, but I'm still wondering if this is all worth it. Clint may get his story, but more importantly, Selena needs closure. If she can get that along the way, there may be hope for her yet. Otherwise, there's a dark path in store for her. Plus, I don't think we ever found out what happened to Cillian Murphy's character and the girl that survived with Selena at the end of the film. What gives?