I’m not going to lie: there is altogether way to many zombie comics running around right now. Sure, there are such masterpieces as “THE WALKING DEAD” and up and coming greats like “WE WILL BURY YOU” out there, but for every Robert Kirkman there are 10 other guys who are trying to cash in on the zombie phenomena. Some have something profound to say, and others have nothing new to add at all. At this juncture it is nearly impossible to be creative with the sub-genre, and rather than try many are standing pat by bringing fans more of the same. Read on for the full review as we continue our spotlight on Hardway Studios.
So with these thoughts in mind I went into “THE SHELTER” from up and coming publisher Hardway Studios with my expectations set at a moderate level (for those of you who are more politically minded I was on ‘orange’) and not expecting anything profound, but at least expecting to be entertained.
“THE SHELTER”, written by Jamison Kasian (“SUICIDE NOTE”) and illustrated by Dwayne Biddix (whose interview with us you can read here) , is the story of Violet, a woman who wakes up one day to find that the world has fallen to flesh-eaters. When she is forced out of hiding in her apartment building by a fire the woman must learn to survive in this new world or be another nameless victim of it. The story is told mainly through narrative as Violet leads readers along and tells her story of survival as she fights to make her way to “THE SHELTER”, a promised haven where survivors can find safety from the undead.
The story itself doesn’t necessarily lend anything NEW to the genre as it uses an outline that readers have undoubtedly seen before, and many of them are growing a bit tired. That aside I can safely say that “THE SHELTER” is a success. Oh yea, totally 180’d that didn’t I? Yes the book is a bit cliché, but it is good because it takes these old dried up ideas and it makes them worth reading again. Not once while I was reading “THE SHELTER” (which is a bit short at 26 pages) did I feel bored. In fact I was pinned to my seat.
What made me love “THE SHELTER” was the fact that it balanced the horror elements very well with the more dramatic tones to come up with a finished product not unlike an issue of “THE WALKING DEAD”. I think that it would be a fair comparison to make seeing as how the story is a bit light on the gore and more heavy on the character drama. (although there is still a good amount of violence to be had here) Mostly though this is a character study wrapped inside of a social commentary on the side effects of human nature and the terrible consequences that they can have on those around us. Many times as I was reading this one-shot I thought of the word “nihilistic” and in a way this is the best way to describe “THE SHELTER” as a whole. It is a nihilistic look at humanity that uses the undead as a parallel to the ideas it is presenting.
When all is done and read Kasian & Co. have presented readers with a very nihilistic version of the zombie survival story much akin to the recent Stefan Hutchinson offering, “DAY OF THE DEAD: DESERTION”. Throughout the story readers never once are allowed to feel a sense of comfort, and the tension is crafted in such a way that by the end of the story you will feel like you have just been dropped from the top of a building. There is an intricate piece of fiction being told beneath the surface of the generic nature of the basic plotline of “THE SHELTER” that the deep thinkers will surely appreciate, and are several references to popular culture and the genre itself that are sure to appeal to diehards of the genre(All I can say is “SHAUN OF THE DEAD”). There are some good little pieces of referential humor sprinkled in to break up the monotony and ease up on the gas a bit but for the most part this is a story that straps you in, makes you take the ride, and then lets you off. Though the story is short, and it leaves you wanting more, “THE SHELTER” is a great little title that fans of “THE WALKING DEAD” will love if they give it a chance.
4 Out Of 5 Skulls
“THE SHELTER” is available for pre-order now!