"Zombies vs Robots #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Chris Ryall and Steve Niles
Illustrated by Anthony Diecidue, Ashley Wood, and Val Mayerik
2014, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 21st, 2014
There are some titles that just make sense in any medium. You know what you're getting into when you hear them. Zombies vs Robots certainly falls into that bucket. What more do you need to know to dive into this comic? Fortunately, the new ongoing series requires little to no previous knowledge of any of the stories that came before it. I have yet to check those out, but writer Chris Ryall provides more than enough information to satisfy any new reader.
This issue is actually split up between three stories. The first two are written by Ryall and the third is penned by Steve Niles. The bulk of the book is spent with the first tale, "Inherit the Earth", in which a droid flies down to Earth to search for signs of life after a nuclear war has demolished the planet one year ago. The backstory is explained in conversation between the droid and the mystery man that sent it down here. This rarely comes across as exposition. You learn of the three scientists that opened a portal to another world that ended up being filled with zombies. As they flooded into our dimension, the scientists created robots to fight for them and that ultimately backfired. The robots are programmed to destroy the zombies and the zombies are just hungry. Humanity was stuck in the middle and now it's pretty much gone.
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The robots are definitely the more interesting side of this match up. The zombies are pretty straightforward. What you see is what you get. Robots come in all shapes and sizes. Plus, they have the best dialogue. One is shooting a horde of zombies while shouting, "Keep bringin' it, maggot-suits, and I'll keep tearing you new ones!" That's awesome. It's practically wasted on the undead as they don't fully appreciate a line like that.
Anthony Diecidue's artwork is a great fit for this series. It's flexible depending on the plot element. The present-day story is shown in clean pencils with a lot of detail, but things get rougher when it turns to a flashback. He also manages to provide an element of personality to the robots in their design. There's a little guardbot that's frail and broken. It wants nothing more than a new master, but that's certainly not going to happen with all the humans gone. Meanwhile, the droid investigating the planet is agile and crafty. He takes orders, but he still puts his own spin on things.
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Niles' story, "The Orphan", follows a young woman building her own robot out of spare parts to protect her from a mechanical monster rampaging through her town. Most of this is shown with no dialogue. Artist Val Mayerik added a nice touch with some of the sound effects, specifically the "KLANK" of the hunting robot as it searches for the girl. Each time the word appears, there's an arrow on it, pointing to where the sound it coming from. At first it's emanating from off panel, so the arrows are pointing to the right. Then you see the robot klanking away and they're pointing to its arm. Later on, when a big punch is thrown, the "KLANG" is broken up and distorted. I'm not quite sure what to think of this story just yet. It kind of feels like a post-apocalyptic version of the Iron Giant.
Zombies vs Robots delivers on its title in spades. Usually you need a major human character to make a horror story like this work, but this just transcends that need and delivers a fun comic. Opening it up for other creators to add to the overall mythos is a nice touch and I'm interested to see who else will be joining the book down the line.