An action-packed coming-of-age tale, “Rot & Ruin” #1 delivers the wicked humor, the gore, and crazy kills that come with the zombie apocalypse. A group of plucky teenagers have to find a way to grow up in the midst of the undead hunting after them. The premise is quickly established so that story can jump right ahead into zombies getting their heads chopped off.
WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Mayberry
ART BY: Tony Vargas
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
RELEASE: September 10, 2014
Reviewed By Jorge Solis
Benny Imura was just a baby when the zombie plague struck in “First Night.” Since their parents became zombie fodder, Benny was raised in the teachings of the samurai by his older brother, Tom. With a small group of friends, he walks across the wastelands, carrying a samurai sword on his back. There may actually be hope in their bleak future as they have spotted a jet plane flying in the sky.
What makes this zombie tale different is how writer Jonathan Mayberry focuses on the themes of teen angst and relationships. This is about a group of kids forced to grow up, but still holding onto their youth. Tom and his friends want something to rebel against , but there’s nothing out there for them in the real world. With his brother gone, Benny has to step up and become the leader, even if he’s not ready.
More than just an origin story, Mayberry brings readers quickly up to speed about how the apocalyptic world came about. These dysfunctional but likable characters are grasping at straws, hoping to find a missing jet plane. Mayberry then gives the group snappy and witty dialogue. as they keep referring to the undead as “zoms.”
Artist Tony Vargas gives Benny and each member of his gang a different character design, so that they’re each distinguishable. Lilah stands out from the rest because she grew up in the woods, almost like a feral animal. Notice how her clothes are all torn from the waist down. In medium shots, Vargas adds a nice detail to Benny’s girlfriend, Nix, by putting freckles to her cheeks.
Vargas does something impressive with the panel layouts in the opening pages. Benny’s sword provides the breaks between panels. Vargas uses the reflection of the blade to add an extra image related to the theme. When the sword gets bloody, that’s when the rest of the imagery becomes more violent.
If you want to see teen samurais taking down zombies, then you better get your hands on “Rot & Ruin” #1. I really enjoyed the first issue and cannot wait for the second installment.