"Dead of Winter #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Oni Press
Written by Kyle Starks
Illustrated by Gabriel “Gabo” Bautista
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on August 2nd, 2017
We've seen all sorts of zombie apocalypse stories. People vs. zombies. Vampires vs. zombies. Super heroes vs. zombies. Now, we're getting a dog vs. zombies in Dead of Winter, as Sparky the Super Dog has to balance murdering the undead with being a good boy. The surviving humans are scavenging for whatever they can find and things are getting tougher as Sparky and Gabriel keep bringing back more people.
Dead of Winter is based on a series of table top games that I am unfamiliar with, however you don't need to have played them to enjoy this series. It has a healthy mix of horror and humor that adds something new to the aging zombie genre. Writer Kyle Starks keeps the book fresh and fun. There's a recurring line that pops up every time Sparky leaps into action. “That dog hates zombies.” It's such a simple line and it works so well, getting even better each time it comes up.
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We don't know why Sparky hates the undead just yet. It really doesn't matter either. He works as a helpful companion to the humans the way a dog always does. This is man's best friend in a zombie apocalypse. He loves his owners like any other dog would, regardless of the situation they're in.
Gabo's artwork works hand-in-hand with the story, setting a pitch perfect tone. Yes, the zombies are scary, especially since they seem to be covered in boils, like pulsing zits ready to pop at a moment's notice. I can't tell which would be worse, getting bit by a zombie or being covered in its pus from its popped boils. Gross.
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There's also an air of humor that permeates through Dead of Winter. That comes through in the cheerful expressions of the characters, Sparky's happy-go-lucky looks, and the off-the-wall, gory kills that pack the first few pages. One guy is swinging a hockey stick with a blade at the end, literally slicing faces off. Even the zombies seem surprised by this, dying with a look of shock permanently emblazoned on their faces.
Dead of Winter takes a tired premise like zombies and breathes new life into it. The inclusion of Sparky and his hate of the undead is fun, balancing the terror of the story with some comic relief. There's more than enough here to hook you to come back for more. At the bare minimum, you'll want to check out the Dead of Winter games as a result. I know I do.