“PANDORA: END OF DAYS” Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com on August 14th, 2011

PANDORA: END OF DAYS Vol. 1 (Real Interface Studios) is an action-packed tale about a frightened high school student lost in the zombie apocalypse. Trapped in New Jersey, Katie desperately searches for her missing father while seeking to escape. Will she locate her father in time, before a horde of undead come crashing through her bedroom door? This first volume is an interesting look at a lonely girl struggling to survive in a city in ruins.

All the world is watching on their television screen as the archeological find of the century is being sent to the World History Museum. Putting his reputation on the line, Katie’s father, Professor Nicholas James Saber, insists the sarcophagus must be closed at all times. Thinking only about greed and power, corporate businessman Jeffrey Willingham rolls his eyes and ignores the professor’s warnings. With so much to lose, Professor Saber grabs his daughter and begs her to run.

Taking her father’s advice, Katie heads directly for her apartment and locks herself inside. But outside her door, Katie’s neighbors have suddenly been attacked. Katie watches an innocent man turn into a rabid monster as he licks his bloody lips with a snaked tongue. When the infected neighbor chases after her, Katie reluctantly has no choice but to flee from her apartment.

With the sarcophagus open, a deadly zombie infection has spread across New Jersey. The military has arrived in the nick of time, with orders to hunt down the infected. To prevent a global infestation at all costs, the soldiers start shooting at the uninfected as well. Civilians run away from the merciless military, who continue to reload and fire.

Author Peter J. Ang keeps his three subplots running at full speed, switching back and forth between the perspectives of Katie, her father and the military. This gives an omniscient point-of-view to the narrative and provides suspense as to how the protagonists will finally come together.

The excellent artwork by Jin Song Kim captures the tension and panic. Through close-ups, Kim layers Katie’s facial features with the burdens of estrangement and loneliness. Because she has always relied on her father, Katie simply doesn’t know what to do. The major highlight is the intense shootout between the soldiers and the innocent civilians, in which the panels are wonderfully shaded with black and white brushes. The illustrations are heavily influenced by Japanese manga, especially the round eyes and Katie’s schoolgirl outfit. Readers should pay close attention to the distinct zombie design and transformation.

PANDORA: END OF DAYS Vol. 1 is an action-filled delight, and readers will be left wanting more as soon as they read the last-page cliffhanger.