Zombies are the middle children of the otherworldly family. Vampires are the oldest brother who gets to have a room in the attic, all tripped out with a disco ball and shag carpet. Werewolves are the youngest, the babies, always getting pinched and told they're cute. With all that attention stolen away from the middle child zombie, no wonder she shuffles off grumbling, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha."

- Kevin James Breaux

Monday, December 17, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: REMAINS

The name Steve Niles is no stranger to horror fans.  He’s most famous for co-creating and redefining the vampire genre with 30 Days of Night (for which there have been two films made already).  With his Remains he sets his sights on re-imagining the zombie genre (which has since been made into a movie by Chiller Films).  Niles writes with Kieron Dwyer providing the art.  The plot concerns a blackjack dealer Tom and an exotic dancer Tori who are among the only living survivors of a nuclear blast that decimates the entire world killing just about everyone and turning them into the walking dead.  Now they are holed in Reno with no escape as the walking dead’s numbers grow with each day.

As the days turn into weeks and the number of the undead grows exponentially Tori slowly begins to realize that something is changing in the undead.  They are beginning to remember how to speak and organize and work together.  Now Tori is even more determined to escape Reno before it is too late.  The situation goes from bad to worse when Tom rescues Cindy from sudden death.  It seems that Cindy is the last survivor from a settlement of survivors who were attacked by a newer breed of radioactive zombies who are stronger and smarter than any that they have ever seen and they are heading towards Reno.  Now these three must find a way to survive in a world where they are the endangered species.

As far as zombie stories go, Remains doesn’t have much new to offer but the notion that we caused the disaster itself is an interesting concept.  The story begins and a day of peace when the US and the world have agreed to get rid of nuclear weapons in a safe way but before this can happen a mistakes triggers a domino effect all over the world putting everything into a nuclear fireball.  Once the actual story starts the rest of the plot is pretty standard zombie material.  I do commend Dwyer’s artwork which greatly enhances the zombie mayhem and works perfectly for the story.  Niles has a very cinematic story telling style which fits with the material.  It is no reason that Chiller Films decided to make this one of their first feature length films.

Niles is no stranger to extreme gore in his stories and this one does not disappoint.  Dwyer’s cover for the graphic novel is pure Niles nightmare hell and horror fans will love what the two have come up with despite the sometimes cliché and predictable story.  Of note is also a lot of production stills at the end of the graphic novel from the making of the film version which shows you just how much care was taken to replicate the style and tone of the graphic novel to the big screen.

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