"Junior Braves of the Apocalypse #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Oni Press
Written by Greg Smith and Michael Tanner
Illustrated by Zach Lehner
2015, 40 Pages, $1.99
Comic released on May 19th, 2015
After enjoying a wonderful week away from civilization, Junior Braves Tribe 65 returned home to find their town seemingly overrun by zombies. The residents are nowhere to be seen. The kids have no idea where their friends and families could be. It's been about a day since they've come back and now they're venturing out into the town to look for answers, not to mention those of their number that have disappeared. Their travels will bring them to the worst place imaginable for a child: school.
Just as in other zombie stories, the real danger isn't in the undead. It's in the survivors. This is what the Junior Braves are about to find out as they encounter a handful of shell-shocked teachers trying to go about their daily routines as the apocalypse has begun outside the school's hallowed halls. They've become unhinged from reality in a terrifying way.
It's actually a little surprising how quickly the society has crumbled here. The kids were gone for a week. Even if the zombie apocalypse started right after they left, we're talking a maximum amount of time passing of eight or nine days. That was long enough for the undead to inhabit the town and for the remaining survivors to totally lose their minds.
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As this is an all-ages title, much is implied and little is shown. We get a pretty good idea of what the faculty has been up to lately. It's presented in a way that would appeal to teenagers and adults alike. If you thought you hated middle school before, just wait until you see the teachers here. You've got experiments in the biology lab, a history teacher that refuses to look at current events, and you don't want to know what the lunch lady is working on.
The cafeteria is the scariest part of this chapter. Writers Greg Smith and Michael Tanner craft a multi-layered approach to this area. There are two separate pieces to the story that when connected, turn into something very creepy. It's not something you realize at first and then one of the characters points it out. Again, I will remind you that it's been a little more than a week since the zombies started showing up.
Speaking of the zombies, they're not your typically shuffling undead. They look more like mutants with scaly skin and strange bumps all over them. Their heads are often engorged. They come across more like ogres than traditional zombies. I haven't seen them eat any brains yet (or kill anyone for that matter).
This issue of Junior Braves of the Apocalypse helps cement the idea that these kids are really on their own. They can't depend on the adults to save them. Whatever has happened in this town has sent what few survivors they've found into a terrifying level of denial. They can't handle this kind of horror. They're going to have to invent a whole new set of merit badges for what these kids are going through.