"Under the Flesh #1 & #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Think Alike Productions
Written by G. Deltrez
Illustrated by J.L. Giles
2015, 28 Pages Each
The world falls apart in a single day as an unknown pathogen sweeps through the human race, affecting only males. The disease turns them into raving zombie-like creatures, more like those in 28 Days Later than Night of the Living Dead. Lieutenant Ruben Lobos has not fallen prey to this virus, as he's been injected with mysterious nanobots. Now, he's holed up in a library with a few others with no real idea as to what to do next.
On the surface, Under the Flesh sounds like Captain America meets a zombie version of Y: The Last Man. It falls short on this comparison though. First off, this pathogen was powerful enough to infect the doctor that was putting the nanobots in Lobos to begin with, presumably inside or maybe even in a bunker. It's established that Lobos did not fall victim to the pathogen because of the nanobots. Then a few pages later, we meet a wimpy guy named Paul, who also somehow survived. He's not the only man we meet over the first two issues, but no explanation is provided for how they escaped this disease. It's made clear that it's gone through the entire world, so how did these people survive?
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Speaking of the first few pages, it serves as a big history lesson to get to the meat of the story. Instead of filling in this backstory with the characters, we get an exposition dump. It's a very dry read, as there is no emotional attachment to these people yet, so it's tough to care about what they're going through. It would be like starting a movie with a montage. You've got to earn the montage.
A big motivation to survive for Lobos is his girlfriend Dinah. We see him hack through tons of infected to save her in the opening pages, although it's tough to see why because she's a crazy, jealous bitch. He admits as much in the book too.
When Lobos sees a gang approaching outside, he makes his way through the library to personally tell each character. This serves as the introduction to everyone, giving you a rough idea of everyone's personality and what they've been doing with their time. None of them have been doing anything even remotely productive.
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Although Lobos and this rag-tag group of survivors made it into this secure location, they don't seem to have a plan as to how they're going to continue living. I have no idea what they're eating or how they've managed to go two months in this place. How Lobos has not killed every one of these people since being cooped up in there for that long with them is anyone's guess.
J.L. Giles' artwork is the saving grace in Under the Flesh. His style is well-detailed with some very clean pencils. There's some great art direction too, especially in the fight scenes. One page stands out in particular, where as a gang member shoots an infected in the face at point blank range. The view is through the hole she just made in his head, so you see her and the guy through the back of his head surrounded by blood, brains, and gore. Giles also made some retro variant covers for Under the Flesh which look like Marvel comics from the ‘90s. These work with his art style perfectly. I love the old school logos too.
The coloring of the book gives it a pulp quality. It's slightly faded, like it's been sitting somewhere long enough for the pages to yellow a bit. This makes the blood really pop off the page as it stands out with a vibrant red.
Under the Flesh has a lot going for it, but it's presented in a clunky manner. The book takes shortcuts to get the story going instead of taking the time to build the elements up and stitch everything together. Understandably, this is tough to do in a mini-series where you have a limited amount of time, however it's certainly possible. There are a lot of elements thrown together, but not in a real cohesive manner, however there are enough of them to keep me interested for more.