"Cannibal #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Brian Buccellato and Jennifer Young
Illustrated by Matias Bergara
Colored by Brian Buccellato
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on October 5th, 2016
Here are HorrorTalk, we've seen so many zombie stories to the point where we're actually a little sick of them. Occasionally, something comes along that puts a unique spin on the genre. Cannibal is not a zombie comic, but it shares one very specific attribute with the undead: the hunger for human flesh. Set in the American Southeast, a pandemic has caused normal everyday people to have an unstoppable urge to eat others. There's no cure on the way anytime soon, so some locals take matters into their own hands and decide to kill the infected. But what do you do when someone you care about comes down with the disease?
Although this disease (which really needs a catchy name like “Cannibalitis” or something) can create a riveting story on its own, the setting of this small southern town brings about its own drama. These characters have roots that run deep. That's why when one of their own gets eaten, they push aside the law and go on a manhunt.
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We're used to the mindless horde of the undead, shuffling along, biting anything in its path. This is the complete opposite. The opening scene shows one shaken man, begging a local kid to go back inside now. He knows what's going to happen if the kid doesn't run away. He's so hungry that he can't control himself. It's like those old Bugs Bunny cartoons where someone turns into a big hot dog, except way serious.
Artist Matias Bergara captures this sense of pain on the man's face as he pleads with his soon-to-be victim. Even as he's about to chomp down, there's a look of sorrow and guilt. He doesn't seem to eat much, just enough to hold him over, leaving a bloody corpse behind. The blood also runs down, forming the title of the book in the water, just below the man, holding his head and crying.
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I have so many questions about this virus, many of which are not entirely needed to enjoy the story. The same can be said for a zombie book. This is the just the world that these characters live in. Faced with this situation, how do they react? Usually we learn that the real monster is your fellow man. Given how quickly the locals mobilized and started to hunt down the infected; that may hold true here too.
Although I made comparisons to zombies throughout this review, understand that Cannibal is far more terrifying than that tired genre. It's almost akin to the werewolf in that the infected has no control over his or her actions once they've contracted the virus. They're forced to watch as they commit these monstrous actions, powerless to do anything but satisfy their hunger for human flesh, no matter what the cost. This is southern brewed horror with a dose of heartbreak.