Night of the Living Dead

Empire of the Dead 4 (June 2014)

Empire of the Dead #4Romero is still setting things up. At least there’s not too much with the vampires this issue and the SWAT zombie making friends with a little runaway is kind of cool. There’s a lot of time spent on new supporting cast members, some rednecks who are in town to start trouble; they’re weak characters. Not to mention the woman’s a rip-off of Frank Miller’s neo-Nazi gal from Dark Knight.

But even as Romero fills out the cast, it feels like Empire is starting to wind down. There’s too many characters, too much going on. The script is starting to feel too oriented towards a movie and not enough to a comic. Maleev draws a whole bunch of pointless montage sequences and they don’t play to his strengths.

Zombies and vampires and New York City–maybe there isn’t much mileage anyone could get out of the combination. Nice art though.

C 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Empire of the Dead 3 (May 2014)

Empire of the Dead #3Not much happens this issue; the smart zombie gets away at the end, there are other smart zombies out there, lots of dumb vampires doing stuff to get themselves found out. While he was hiding the vampires, Romero used them sparingly. This issue it’s different. They’re everywhere. The human characters from the first couple issues are practically just cameos.

The big problem with the vampires is they’re boring visually. Romero doesn’t do much with them. They attack some girl, then dump her body. Twice in one issue. The girl’s not even a character. Maleev can’t make anything exciting out of such a bland event. Worse, Romero’s doing lots of politics stuff with the other vampires.

How exciting, vampires running for mayor. It’s like “Spin City” only with vampires and not funny at all. Or even interesting.

The art and some of Romero’s ideas keep it going, but just barely enough.

C+ 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Empire of the Dead 2 (April 2014)

3663199 eotdcoverMaleev has some awesome panels this issue. He could be better on some of it–there are some arena scenes (zombie versus zombie for the people’s pleasure) and Maleev doesn’t do establishing shots well enough, but he does quite well on the vampire stuff. The vampire stuff is the strangest thing in Empire, probably because it works so well.

Romero started out with human characters–they’re back this issue, with the doctor getting a smart zombie to study. They’re not the protagonists though, there’s a hand-off where the vampires get to run the issue. Romero does a great job establishing their quarrels and such. He also opens up the idea Empire could go anywhere.

As long as there are vampires and zombies. So maybe not anywhere.

The dialogue’s good, the scenes are funny; Romero’s got the comic running smoothly only two issues in, but doesn’t go overboard raising expectations.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Empire of the Dead 1 (January 2014)

Portrait incredibleThere’s something perfect about this comic. The medium gives George Romero a great way to do exposition, with two characters meeting each other, talking about their worlds. But it wouldn’t work without Alex Maleev. Romero’s kicking around ideas he’s been using for thirty years or so, but Maleev makes it all seem so fresh.

This first issue, set after the zombie apocalypse, after the rebuilding has started, is a great start. There’s a particularly awkward moment where Romero retcons Night of the Living Dead, almost half a century after he made that film. Yeah, exactly… Romero should have been writing comics for years, apparently. It’s an awkward fix, but not bad. Maleev makes it work.

The end has a big surprise and instead of finding it cheap, because it is definitely gimmicky, I find myself fully trusting Romero. He sells some lengthy exposition here. He can handle McGuffins I’ll bet.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer, George A. Romero; artist, Alex Maleev; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Jake Thomas and Bill Rosemann; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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