If you want nonstop zombie-shooting mayhem, die-hard horror fans should look no further than “’68: Hallowed Ground”. You can expect an unnerving graphic experience that will stay with you long after reading. This one-shot special is perfect for anyone who hasn’t picked up the “’68 series” (for shame) and wants to be in the know.
WRITTEN BY: Mark Kidwell
ART BY: Kyle Charles, Josh Medors
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE: November 05, 2013
For the returning soldiers, the their time in Vietnam is done but the war is far from over. The zombie plague has spread to their homeland and the rising dead are multiplying to huge numbers. In “Sympathy For The Devil,” a small group seeks refuge inside an abandoned church from the zombies. Will their faith in God protect them as the undead attempt to break through the stained-glass windows? In “Angel On High,” a burnt-out American soldier protects the church from the bell tower. But as he continues to pull the trigger, will he have enough bullets for his sniper rifle to last through the night?
Writer Mark Kidwell explores the two zombie tales through such well-developed characters. In “Sympathy for the Devil,” Apollyon still defends the church even though religious persecution has scarred him both mentally and physically. Kidwell dives into the spiritual themes using the church setting as a metaphor for humanity’s internal conflict with God. Is having faith in yourself the same as having faith in a higher power? Struggling to find the right path, Apollyon realizes that saving the innocent child is worth fighting for.
Interestingly, Kidwell uses a nonlinear structure to tell what’s happening around the church between “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Angel On High.” In “Angel on High,” we’re outside the church, in the bell tower, as the events steer towards the massive explosion. As a sniper, Matthew Angel writes down the name of a saint each time he kills a zombie. Much like Apollyon, Matthew is searching for absolution, much-needed forgiveness, for the carnage he committed in the Vietnam War.
In the first six opening pages, Josh Medors’ layouts are quite cinematic as they capture the small group of survivors in a wide shot. In the first shot, we see how violent and bloody the zombie apocalypse has become. There are limbs scattered around the front yard of the church and a faceless zombie clinging to the barbed wire. The character designs of the zombies by Medors is nasty , dirty, and disturbing. The dead are wearing torn clothing, as if they are supposed to be homeless, have rotten teeth, and the last remaining bits of flesh are sticking to their bones.
What I really enjoyed about Kyle Charles’ illustrations is how he is able to tell two stories at the same time. In the foreground, we see Apollyon in a heated argument with the priest. In the background, Charles uses the stained-glass windows to tell another aspect of the narrative. Using the spiritual themes, the stained-glass windows tells the story of Mary and Joseph protecting their first-born child. Charles heightens the suspense as a zombie climbs up the wall while Matthew is flirting with Clara in the bell tower.
A definite must-read, “’68: Hallowed Ground” is a special treat for fans of gore, zombies, and bloody headshots. Though this is his last comics work, the creativity of Josh Medors’ storytelling and artistic talents are on full blown display in this installment.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis