The moral of the story in Joshua Ortega and Digger T. Mesch’s The Other Dead is simple: If you’re going to perform a black magic rite to make your band famous, GET THAT STUFF RIGHT. Az – short for Azrael – and his band mates screw it up, and two days later, animals start rising from the dead, and they are PISSED. Don’t even think that a head-shot is going to save you, because these aren’t Romero zombies, Walking Dead zombies, or any other zombies you’ve come across.
You know that cute YouTube video of the bunny stampede that went viral a few weeks ago? Imagine how cute they would be if they covered in gore and entrails, and coming after you. This is essentially what The Other Dead is – hordes of undead, angry animals coming after humans. The contagion seems contained within the animal community; no bites have affected humans (yet – there’s a sequel coming), but they are savage and will kill you.
At the same time, there’s a Hurricane Katrina-level storm coming that will level the Southern US, so President Barack Obama gets on a plane to be with the people there in their time of need, despite warnings from his staff. An animal attack sets the President and some of his men on the run, where they end up meeting Az, his stripper girlfriend Justina Abelinda, and his sick younger brother, Tommy. The group ends up holing up with Chet, a survivalist who may or may not be a conservative racist, and face both the oncoming storm and zombie animal attack together.
President Obama is an action hero in this book, dropping quotes like, “I only said [guns]should properly be regulated… And I never said I couldn’t shoot one”, bashing zombie zebras, bears, and wolves right and left, and fielding questions like, “What did you have to do to get into the Illuminati?”
This is not a comic that is going to keep you up nights, worrying about character development, so Chet’s leaping back and forth between someone who seems to have a pretty good handle on what’s going on, despite not liking the President’s politics, to someone who asks the President about masturbating into coffins to join the Illuminati and who keeps a picture of Stephen Colbert with his Reagan and Rush pictures to be “enigmatic” is likely not going to rankle many people.
The overall storyline is an interesting one – what happens when the zombie apocalypse hits the animal world? Imagine the family outings turned bloodbaths as zoos and preserves, beaches, circuses, even something as innocent as a dog run in a city park, suddenly become overrun with undead, unkillable, rage-filled animals. Throw in the fact that the old zombie trope of shooting them in the head doesn’t appear to work, and you’ve got a dilemma.
Qing Ping Mui’s art is perfect for this comic, with all the gore and rotting flesh that goes with the zombie genre. Since the best zombie stories are really more about the survivors, Mui makes sure to include many close-up reaction pieces, with flared eyes and mouths agape in horror and disbelief. If you’re at all squeamish, this isn’t your book.
The Other Dead hits bookshelves on April 29th. If you’re looking for a new take on the zombie genre, consider picking this book up. I give it a 3 out of 5 shambles.
THE OTHER DEAD
Writer/Co-Creator: Joshua Ortega
Co-Creator: Digger T. Mesch
Artist: Qing Ping Mui
Creative Consultant: Kevin Eastman
On-Sale: April 29th