"Rot & Ruin #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Jonathan Maberry
Illustrated by Tony Vargas
2014, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on December 17th, 2014
Benny and his friends thought they had found a brief respite from the zombies that have terrorized their lives for the past fifteen years. They stumbled upon this well-protected farm while on their quest to find a jet they recently saw in the air. This all seemed great, but as with most zombie stories, humans are more dangerous than the undead.
This is not the first time we've seen something like this in a zombie comic. Walking Dead fans will find some similarities between Farmer John's compound and the Governor's town of Woodbury. Rot & Ruin creates a far scarier version of peace amongst the chaos. Yes, I'm saying that Farmer John is a bigger villain than the Governor. Hear me out for a sec. The Governor always ruled with an iron fist. He had a militaristic approach to everything. The dude owned a tank! Farmer John is performing heinous acts that would send him to jail forever or worse, but he thinks he's right. That's the true mark of a super villain. He thinks he's the hero.
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Even though you know that he's a horrible person, Farmer John still looks like your average guy. This is a testament to artist Tony Vargas' work. There's a charming old-fashioned quality to his style. You could see him playing a banjo or milking a cow. This is present even when he's doing something vile like punching a young girl right in the mouth.
The not-so-subtle secret in the compound is that the women are treated as cattle, used almost entirely for breeding in an effort to repopulate the world. Farmer John has taken it upon himself to complete this task – not that he's causing all these pregnancies. That's what the other guys or "bulls" are for – and he sees this as a noble act. The world has changed, and as a result the previous rules that governed society have changed as well. It's no longer about whether or not someone wants to have children; it's whether or not they are physically able to do so. By popping out a bunch of kids, they're helping to get humanity back to the top of the food chain.
You can imagine how this would be a problem for Benny, Chong, Nix, and Lilah; especially the latter two, as they're women. Hell, they're only teenagers. Now they're put into a position where they'll be forced to have child after child with a variety of partners. The real scary part of all this is that the women living in the compound are drinking Farmer John's Kool-Aid. They believe that this is the right thing too, and don't see a problem with it at all.
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This issue shows the kids desperately trying to break free. Farmer John has shown his true colors. What once looked like a bastion of hope or at least a place where they could rest for a bit has been revealed as the most deadly haunted hay ride in the world, complete with dead body scarecrows, awful corn maze, and a variety of pitchfork-wielding farmers. The tension does not let up. Writer Jonathan Maberry has you from the very first page and does not let go. There is not a moment in this book where you can take a breath. It's non-stop action as these kids fight for their lives at every turn. The farmers are after them within the walls of the compound and the zombies are ready to eat them alive if they step foot outside.
You can feel every chop and punch with Vargas' artwork. It moves at a frenetic pace. You can see the worried look on the face of Benny and his friends as they make a break for it. It's filled with desperation. There's a small thought there like maybe they won't make it out.
Rot & Ruin is quickly becoming my favorite zombie comic. That's saying something considering how many of them seem to be popping up lately. It's got action, adventure, and sheer terror with characters that I have grown to love over a very short period of time.