“68” #1 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria. com on April 17th, 2011

68 #1 (Image Comics) captures the unforgettable violent nature of war and horror. During the Vietnam War, a platoon of soldiers is tracking along the vast forests and empty villages in search of their elusive enemy. They never actually expected to find a pack of zombies waiting for them. Deserving of great praise, 68 is a brilliant example of story and art fused together!

As the platoon travels deep into the heart of darkness, they witness something rather odd happening. Their enemy, the one they have been trained to kill, is supposed to stay dead after being shot to death. Somehow their corpselike bodies begin to rise and stumble, as if nothing ever happened. The foes just won’t stay dead, no matter how many bullets are fired at them.

But the undying adversary is not the only problem facing this squad. Members of the troop have died fighting valiantly for their country. Now, these fallen heroes are rising from their graves too. None of the medical doctors can officially explain what is going on, especially when all their stored corpses start walking. With no chance of escape, the only choice is to keep fighting until every single member has lost his last ounce of sanity.

Missing in the endless jungle is a young and naive solider named Yam. Like Hemmingway, Yam writes letters to his parents, telling them stories of brutal death and camaraderie. Since his arrival, Yam believes he made a horrible mistake enlisting in the army and is now paying the ultimate consequences. A horde of zombies is chasing after him and won’t stop until they have eaten him alive. 

Author Mark Kidwell (Fango’s BUMP) gradually builds the unnerving tension page by page. Unflinching at times, the war violence erupts in many surprising turns. Soldiers can’t even count on each other, particularly when they don’t know where the horrifying attacks are coming from. With the enemy lurking outside in the wild and traitors hidden within, their only reliable friend is their gun. In this coming-of-age tale, Yam is going to face his darkest fears, and who he will become toward the end is an interesting question.

Aided by the gritty colors of Jay Fotos (SAM & TWITCH), the pencils and inks by artist Nat Jones (ROB ZOMBIE’S THE NAIL) perfectly illustrates the green jungle setting. The definitive highlight of 68 is the underground tunnel sequence, which is unbelievably suspenseful. Caught in an extraordinary situation, Yam is scurrying across the tunnel while being shot at. Hands are just punching through the soil and dirt trying to grab him! Because of their flesh tones, 68’s undead here are nasty looking and will genuinely gross out readers. 

This is an incredibly smart and captivating look at war through the zombie genre. When you start reading, you’ll ask yourself, “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?” No comic book fan should miss out on 68, an intense four-part miniseries arriving next week.