If you read only a handful of the ten first issues from Double Takes shared universe inspired by the movie The Night of the Living Dead, then make Slab one of them. The first issue, “The Doctor Is In”, follows Dr. Grimes. You may recall him from the news report that informs the audience of how to dispose of the dead. He’s one of the first to figure out how to kill the zombies/undead. What’s interesting about the POV for Slab, is that while it follows Dr. Grimes, it’s also following the news station behind the scenes. Dr. Grimes doesn’t want to be on TV any more than he has to and basically just wants to warn people and get back to work. The news director though loves his crass style and thinks he’s great for ratings. After his initial report they send a crew to follow him back at his lab. Here he debunks theories about the zombies and really displays his tactless personality. You have to remember that this is 1966 and so him lighting a dead body on fire, which don’t get me wrong is still f’d up in 2015, but even more so to the 60’s crowd.
We’re also introduced to his two daughters. Not only does he not personally warn them, but he’s annoyed when his lab assistant goes to gather them and bring them to his lab rather than assist him in the lab. This of course puts us out in the thick of the outbreak which is where the conflict comes from.
The characters are what make this particular story shine. The news reporter assigned to Grimes is kind of an idiot, but the perfect balance to Grimes’ no-shit attitude. There’s a hilarious response that the reporter gives after finding out Grimes has two children. All-in-all this was one of the most balanced stories from the first issues. You get a taste of almost everything that’s happening in the universe. A lot of the other stories just have connecting events or overlapping information to connect them, but Slab is where some of this information stems from and where other info is gathered. That makes more sense if you read them all, but on its own it does a great job of again giving you an overall picture of the emerging shared universe.
The art was also some of the best. The style fit the era, but then also had a distinguished look to it. It’s not particularly photorealistic, but it’s realistic. Also, it’s worth noting that the hair styles match the era. Honestly that doesn’t really seem to be a problem with comics as a lot of the big two’s books have character’s with hair styles trapped in one era or another, but at least it’s supposed to be that way here. The coloring is also very fitting. It has a softer look to it which really lets the pencil work shine through. It’s a good looking book in general and definitely one of the stronger of the line.
Okay this next paragraph is going to be verbatim the same as my previous review (link here), because it holds true for all of the Double Take books that I read.
While reading Slab and the other first issues from Double Take, I had this overwhelming sensation of reading a comic for the first time in a long time. I know that sounds weird considering I write reviews for comics every week so I’ll explain. There have always been ads in comics, but we got to the point in which the big two didn’t think they needed ads and didn’t see the benefit of “breaking up the reading experience” and the rest of the industry followed suit. Here’s the thing about ads though… they keep the cost down. All of Double Take’s books are $2.50 and here’s something that even more important… they’re printed on great paper which smooth covers. Let me tell you that when I pick up a Marvel or DC book it feels like I’m holding trash in my hand. I refuse to buy any of their print books because for $3.99 and twenty-two pages, it shouldn’t feel like I’m holding a food wrapper in my hand. Obviously Double Take is a new company and their formula isn’t 100% proven, but I can’t stress enough that I felt like I was reading a comic book since I first got into comic books as an adult. I know, that seems dumb to some. Some that began reading comics after the age of ads, but to me this was a magical experience.
My initial impression of Slab is that it’s a series with a lot to offer. The other first issues mostly have this, wait and see, vibe to them. With Slab you really know a lot of what to expect with this issue. There’s something happening on the Zombie side, there’s something happening on the daughter’s side and everything ties back into Grimes. This one beats out Rise as my top book so far, but just barely.
Slab #1 – “The Doctor Is In” Story: Brian Finkelstein, Bill Jemas, Michael Coast Script: Brian Finkelstein Layouts: Julian Rowe Pencils: Joseph Cooper Publisher: Double Take Comics Price: $2.50 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital