Sunday, October 30, 2011
Required Reading: The Zombie Hunters, by Jenny Romanchuk
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday of Halloween, I have decided to review a webcomic which has recently been introduced to me by a friend of mine. Although there are only about three hundred comics out right now, I like what has been written so far an think that the series has great potential from what I've seen. Like many zombie stories, The Zombie Hunters takes place after the outbreak of the virus and focuses on the humans trying to survive in a world populated almost entirely by zombies. While some might say that it is just another zombie story among hundreds, I think it does a couple of unique things very well.
The plot of The Zombie Hunters is divided between two locations: the Wastelands and the Argus Research Campus. The Argus Research Campus (ARC) is an isolated island with a state of the art disease research facility built before the virus outbreak. Their current goal is to find a cure for the zombie outbreak, and while they have not found one yet, they have promising advances towards a cure. The rest of the island provides a safe home for survivors of the zombie apocalypse who are slowly putting society back together. The Wastelands are the areas on the mainland populated by hordes of zombies and avoided by the surviving humans if they can help it. However, teams of Zombie Hunters occasionally go into the Wastes to scavenge necessary materials for the ARC.
Another thing I really like about this series is how they handle infection in humans. If you come into contact with zombie blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids you become infected with the virus but do not turn into a zombie until you die. Infected humans can also pass the infection to uninfected humans through exchange of bodily fluids, but they cannot be infected again by zombies so they frequently form the zombie hunter teams that go out into the Wastelands. However, if either an infected or uninfected human gets bitten by a zombie they will die and be reanimated as a zombie. Because infected humans carry the risk of infecting other humans, as well as the risk of becoming a zombie if they die, they spend their entire lives isolated in a separate compound on the ARC island and are identified by special badges and armbands. As a result, the infected are often treated as second-class-citizens in the culture of the island and results in tension between the two groups. Although there have only been a few times when Jenny has addressed this issue in her comic, I look forward to more exploration of it in the future.
Another thing I appreciate about this series is how much thought the author seems to have put into this series beforehand. There is a small encyclopedia located on the comic's site which gives information about different types of zombies, the characters, locations, and how the virus works. Much of this information has not yet been explained in the comic and provides helpful background. Furthermore the fact that this information is already out there tells me that Jenny has a definite plan of what she wants to do with the comic and I always appreciate that in a series.
Finally, The Zombie Hunters has plenty of zombie-slaying action, masterfully interwoven with the issues of surviving after the end. I look forward to seeing where this series goes in the future and recommend everyone go and check it out. I'm going to give it four and a half sheep based on what she's produced so far rather than the potential. I feel like we're still building up to a larger story so it hasn't earned a five yet, however I can easily see it doing that in the future. The Zombie Hunters updates regularly on Mondays and sometimes on Thursday and can be found here.