Curtis and Kate are driving to pick up their son, Stephen, at his grandparents’ house. Things haven’t been going well between Curtis and Kate, as they just had a getaway weekend which mended nothing in their marriage. After meeting up with Curtis’ parents to pick up Stephen, Curtis’ dad suddenly snaps and slaps Stephen, claiming he stole something. A chalice is missing from the house, and Curtis’ dad, Stephen, and Curtis go to find it at a neighbor’s home. What they find is blood and carnage.
Dead Life #1 is a zombie story. Descriptions don’t get much more succinct than that, and that’s not a good thing. Based on the characters I listed as well as the summary, you probably have an idea of what this comic is like already. Your imagination is likely spot-on here.
Zombie stories are a subgenre of horror and sort-of-genre-sort-of-subgenre of post-apocalypse fiction. Despite that, this subgenre was vastly oversaturated about a decade ago and never completely went away. There are movies/comics/videogames which do interesting things with the formula, but many follow the strict rulebook.
Dead Life #1 is in the latter category. It sticks to that playbook, and its unique additions aren’t positives. The sudden and jarring physical assault of Stephen by Curtis’ dad was strange and imperceivable unless Curtis’ dad is a psychopath.
Without spoiling much hopefully, we already know what caused the outbreak, and it’s oddly reminiscent of Pestilence and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. It’s a…unique plot choice.
Also, the lettering and position of speech bubbles can be often confusing, especially in the beginning.
The sad thing is, the dialogue and pacing isn’t bad. The comic is competent when it comes to structure and speech. The main flaw is that it plays like countless other zombie stories with little unique to bring to the table.
The artwork is decent. Urgell has a style that is gritty and moody. Many of the male characters look identical, and that leads to some confusion in various points throughout the comic. The gore and violence are presented well, the latter having good impact to it. The color work by Folny is similarly moody and gives the comic an oppressive atmosphere through much of its runtime.
Dead Life #1 is a disappointing read. The story is competently told and structured well; it’s just that it follows a strict zombie movie playbook that leaves it quite dull and predictable. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t earn a recommendation.
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