Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Warren Ellis' Blackgas

Warren Ellis & Max Fiumara

Blackgas is a zombie tale written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Max Fiumara. This collection from Avatar collects the original comic trilogy as well as the sequel trilogy. The story follows Tyler, who is bringing his girlfriend Soo back home to meet his parents on Smokey Island off of the East Coast. There’s a strange legend from the island’s history about a party coming to the island to find all of its inhabitants massacred, a story that some of the locals are all too eager to relate. After Soo is introduced to a handful of the island’s residents, she hikes with Tyler up to a cabin where they can have some nice romantic alone time. The set-up for the forthcoming carnage doesn't get much better in a story like this: a neat remote location with some really fun protagonists - the witty banter between the two makes it difficult not to immediately like them. But of course disaster strikes before long and the fault that runs along the island opens up and releases something foul into the air, carried down to the town and infecting everyone with black gas. Tyler and Soo are spared the infection, as the wind carries the gas in the opposite direction, but they are affected by its ramifications, mainly the entire town eating one another. The first chapter of the series is pretty solid, but it very quickly takes a turn for the worse soon after they arrive in town, beginning with the scene where Tyler returns home to find his zombified mother beside his father’s head, his genitalia unceremoniously crammed into his mouth. And it just keeps going in that direction. The zombies are more people going completely insane than being undead in this book. And by insane, I mean bat-shit insane. Fiumara competently illustrates blood and gore over the rest of the book as zombies have sex with headless corpses, cuss like crazy and eat each other during orgies. It’s pretty trashy, which is too bad since it had so much potential at the beginning and it’s just thrown to the wind. Even the ending disappoints with a fairly typical conclusion for a zombie thriller (after a fairly seamless transition from the first trilogy to the second). Had the creators shown a little more restraint, this could have turned into something really fresh from a tired genre. But in the end, a need to bring gruesome violence to a new high seems to have blinded any vision the creators may have originally had.

No comments: