"Pestilence #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by AfterShock Comics
Written by Frank Tieri
Illustrated by Oleg Okunev
Colored by Rob Schwager
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on September 13th, 2017
Roderick Helms and the men of Fiat Lux have battled through hordes of the undead to arrive in Avignon where they must pick up and escort the Pope to Paris. This has proved easier said than done. They have lost some of their own despite sending countless numbers of undead back to Hell. At long last, they've arrived at Avignon only to find more questions and more terror.
What is more troubling is that the zombies are no longer just shuffling along. They're learning. They're picking up weapons. They're showing signs of intelligence. The undead are scary based on their overwhelming numbers that can create a claustrophobic and hopeless effect. They close in all around you, swallowing you up only to tear apart your flesh. This is why a single zombie isn't all that frightening, especially since you can just run away or at least walk fast. The idea of this group of them coming at you with swords and shields changes the game considerably.
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I've said it in previous reviews for Pestilence, but it bears repeating here: Artist Oleg Okunev draws one helluva zombie. The guy was born to draw the undead. I can only imagine how long it took to create some of the crowd and fight scenes. Okunev does not skimp on the detail, giving unique qualities to each and every zombie. They're in different stages of decomposition. Some look fresh with only a single wound on their face, perhaps the bite that turned them. Others are further gone, missing limbs or large pieces of flesh. These may be the scariest looking zombies I've ever seen.
Rob Schwager's colors take the creatures to another level of terror. It's like there's a layer of dirt and grime on each of them. You should be worried about being bitten, but you also want to avoid touching them at all costs because they look filthy. There's a tense scene in a hallway where Schwager really excels, shifting between lighting from candlelight to total darkness. Everything is still clearly visible in the shadows, without taking away from the action.
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We still don't know what exactly caused the dead to rise and as with most stories like this, I'm not sure we need to. Instead, we see how the undead are interacting and surrounding the Pope and specific areas. This raises some more questions and makes Pestilence much more intriguing than your average zombie story.
Every time I think I'm over zombie stories, I find another that proves this sub-genre still has a lot to offer. Pestilence is one such example. It offers a strong story that pulls you in and incredibly detailed artwork that will hold you there. Of course, it has spoiled any King Arthur stories I will see in the future because I will be expecting the Knights of the Round Table to battle the forces of the undead and be disappointed when they don't.