There are two things that you cannot say about Night of the 80’s Undead and that’s that their take on zombies isn’t different and that they don’t know the 80’s. The fact is, their take on the zombie genre is pretty damn cool and I use the term “zombie” loosely. If they’re 80’s knowledge isn’t mostly pulled from their life experience than this series is well researched to say the least. We can’t take either of those two things from the title, but does that mean it was good enough to make it stand out from all the other zombie or horror titles out there? The first four pages act as a recap of the era; from malls to celebrities living high on the hog and goes all the way to the White House. The Cold War is at its climax and the Russians have created a virus and mixed it with the cocaine heading to the U.S. We head to the Valley of L.A. and meet Sarah who is a typical teenage girl of the 80’s with her swatch and all. Her friend arrives to take her to a party, just after they deal with her creepy step dad staring at her friend’s boobies. As they take off, Sarah takes off her “Frankie Says Relax” T-Shirt to reveal a fitted leather tube top. They chat about the party they’re attending and the fact that Sarah’s ex-boyfriend will be there.
From there the story flips over to Magnum P.I. as he’s about to kick off an awesome 80’s coke party. There are a ton of celebrity jokes here as we meet a young Charlie Sheen (who supplies the party with the coke, surprise!), and Ducky. There are several Ducky jokes and they’re all great and true. OJ’s at the party as well and lastly Arnold Schwarzenegger, so you can imagine the variety of humor had at their expense. No last names are said and the likenesses are changed just enough so no one gets sued, but it’s strongly implied that the celebrities are who they appear to be. As they begin doing the coke though, they all go fucking nuts. Eating and killing each other to the point that they’re ripping their own body parts off just to get flesh or coke into their system. Sarah and her friend run into Charlie outside of their party that they’re ditching and are about to stumble into the best or possibly the worst coke party ever.
The story was funny and while it had tons of 80’s references, I almost think it could have been toned down some or not pointed them all out. I loved the mixture of celebrities and the way the jokes foreshadow the future of events that have come and gone for us. That is the biggest weakness, but also the strength of the book. If you know enough about the 80’s then you’ll get all of the jokes, but if you don’t then you’ll be lost. Also if you don’t keep up with actors at all, you’ll also be lost as it relies on you to also know what happened to them after the 80’s. The story completely relies on you having as much knowledge of these characters as the creators do and depending on what happens in the second issue that could leave some people in the cold. For me, it was funny and while I didn’t particularly need a walk down 80’s memory lane, it was still fun.
The art is very good, but the book opens with a few colored pages at first and then goes to mostly black and white. The penciling is so detailed in fact that it isn’t inked, which was fine because it again it looks great. There is a ton of detail that’s been put into each panel from the hair to the setting and inking it would make it look like a convoluted mess. My problem is that it starts off completely colored and then fades to less and less coloring. In the opening pages with Sarah there are a few items that are colored and then backgrounds and it gives it a great 80’s look, but by the celebrity party there’s nothing and it was a bit distracting. I loved the art and the minimal coloring, but there need to be some consistency. It could be the review copy I was reading or it could be intentional. It didn’t ruin the story or the art, but it’s worth mentioning since I found it distracting while reading.
I enjoyed this book and that it’s not quite a zombie story or at least if it is, it’s very different. It’s more of a cocaine cannibal’s story than anything else. As a child of the 80’s raised in the 90’s I get the jokes and it plays on my nostalgia quite well, for others it might just be a funny story with coke zombies and that’s alright as well. If you’re interested and really everyone should be reading “coke zombie”, then you’ll need to pre-order it from your local comic shop. The book releases towards the end of June so you have some time, but it really helps the publishers if you pre-order so that they don’t under or over print. I have a feeling that the catchy title and the nostalgia factor will make this book sought after so don’t miss out.
Writer: Jason Martin
Artist: Bill McKay
Publisher: Danger Zone and Action Lab Entertainment
Price: $3.99 (But I think it’s dropping to $2.99)
Release Date: 6/26/13