"Remote: Dead Air Trade" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Double Take
Written by Colin Mitchell, Bill Jemas, Michael Coast, Michaela Murphy, Gabe Yocum, Charlotte Greenbaum, and Stephanie Long
Illustrated by Young Heller, David Wilson, Ario Murti, Andres Esparza, and Jonathan Ashley
Colored by Tommaso Moscardini, Dinei R, Falk Hansel, Carlos Lopez, Brian Valenza, and Lisa Moore
2016, 144 Pages
Trade paperback released on September 28th, 2016
At one point or another, we've all heard the test of the Emergency Broadcast System and got annoyed that it interrupted a TV show. If the dead started walking the earth, we'd be thankful that it's there. In Evans County, Pennsylvania, a lone DJ named Samantha is the only voice on the airwaves for KBRF. She's been broadcasting day and night and the lack of sleep is starting to get to her. Fortunately, the undead make for great entertainment...until she turns into a giant. Yeah, I don't understand it either.
Remote is easily the most confusing and nonsensical title in Double Take's initial line of comics spinning out of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. It could be because the zombies represent no real threat to Samantha. Instead they're more like mindless drones, capable of learning simple tasks like pressing a button in exchange for candy, not brains. Samantha even sets up a dating show with the undead.
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All the while Samantha is slowly losing her mind, her boss is traveling and vacationing, trying to sell ad time and being a stereotypical big-wig executive. He falls plague to the same weird storytelling mechanisms that other characters have in the Double Take books, where he'll tell a story for pages upon pages, sometimes over the course of several chapters. He picks up where he left off, regardless of the change of scenery or timing. It's just unrealistic. Yes, I said “unrealistic” in a book with zombies and a 50 foot tall woman.
Samantha's major growth spurt is completely unexplained. What's even weirder is that she pops up like she's about to fight Voltron at the end of chapter 4, then she's back to normal size at the beginning of chapter 5, then inexplicably, supersized once more. You'd think with the amount of writers and artists involved in this book that something like the size of your main character would be cleared up.
I know that the intent of the Double Take line of books was to start with the zombies and somehow turn it into a superhero universe. I only know this from reading about it online, as that is not clear from the books themselves. They are not spending any time on origins or building up the characters. The end result is a hodge-podge of quasi-interesting ideas that don't flow together in any way whatsoever. It often feels like the book is missing pages because of the strange leaps the story makes. This trade paperback ends without any ending, character development, or closure of any kind.
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The artwork on Remote, like the story, jumps around. Several artists contributed to the comic and their styles are all a little different. They get the basic nostalgia flare as it's set in 1966, however Samantha's look changes a bit from chapter to chapter and artist to artist. They range from a step above sketch quality to well detailed, fleshed out images.
Remote reads like a pitch for a sitcom starring a zany radio DJ trying to have fun in a world going through the zombie apocalypse. What kind of crazy antics can she get into this week with her undead co-hosts? The show didn't even get picked up and the producers are already doing crazy stunts. Instead of introducing an annoying young cousin like in The Brady Bunch, the main character becomes a literal giant for no apparent reason. You can practically hear the laugh track.