"The Last Zombie: Inferno" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Antarctic Press
Originally Published as The Last Zombie: Inferno #1-5
Written by Brian Keene
Illustrated by Joseph Wight, Brian Denham, and Fred Perry
2011, 116 Pages
Trade Paperback published on February 15th, 2012
All of the zombie stories I've seen or read focus on what happens when the dead walk the earth. I haven't seen any that focus on what happens after they all die out. Sure, the problem with zombies is that they're undead, but sooner or later we just might kill them all. Brian Keene has been exploring this in The Last Zombie, which follows a group of soldiers and doctors who are picking up the pieces of society and bringing Dr. Ian Scott across the country to his fiancee. There's one problem though: Dr. Scott just got bit by a zombie. He's treating himself in an effort to see his love one last time, but it's only a matter of time before the others find out.
Inferno, the second chapter in the story, picks up with the team arriving in a small Kansas town. They encounter some refugees and help out however they can, but they can't spare much in the way of supplies. It seems their way east is blocked by a raging fire. They can't go north due to a nuclear meltdown and they can't go south due to marauders made up of former Mexican cartel operatives. When hundreds of refugees start to flood the town to flee the fire, the team decides to go right into the flames.
The Last Zombie is a downright interesting idea. Fighting zombies has been done over and over again, but outliving them was never really an option. You always figure that any characters in these stories have a pretty limited life span because there's no way that they'd live long enough to see the last of the undead put down. Here we're shown what the actual ramifications of a full fledged zombie apocalypse would be like in the United States. It works along the same lines as Y: The Last Man did for a world without men. We're presented with a version of the country where homes have been destroyed and families have been torn apart. There's no government to support or help people get by, so they're doing whatever they can to survive.
While I love the story in Inferno, the art is disappointing. It's handled by three different artists, which makes for some inconsistency in the comic. I'm not sure who took care of which parts of the book, but the first half is definitely better than the second. I think that was drawn by Joseph Wight as I've seen his work in a couple other books lately. He's got a nice, well-defined style with characters that really show the weight that they're carrying on their shoulders. The latter part of the comic shifts to a lighter penciled approach with some poorly defined characters that often look blocky. It definitely hurt the flow of the book once the artist was switched.
The Last Zombie: Inferno is just the second part of this story that I hope Keene continues for some time. The third chapter, Neverland, just started up. I haven't read the first volume, but the author manages to provide a recap through the story without it sounding like boring exposition, so I was able to get caught up pretty quickly. The artwork could have been better, but the plot more than makes up for it. After reading this, I don't know what I'm more afraid of: The zombies or what comes next.