First off… hilarious title. If you’re going to do a not-Valentine special, special, that’s the name you give it. Series creator Dan Mendoza returns to solo writing duties and I have to wonder why he doesn’t solo the main series? I know that’s kind of mean, but I enjoy his one-shots that he does ten time more than the regular series which largely feels procedural at this point. This issue once again gives us some insight into Janey’s past and one of the many events and people that shaped her life. She sees a boy from high school that she had a crush on, Jared, in the mall. This is after explaining that she’s like nectar to dip-shit assholes that she feeds upon which is the best explanation the series has given for her hunting habits.
We see a flashback of events involving Jared and Janey attempts to go up to him, but chickens out because of the way they left things. He plays it cool and turns around and pretends to see her suddenly and they begin catching up. He invites her back to his place and she decides to go, but the jerks from before show up and well… things don’t end happily.
That’s the most consistent thing about the series when Mendoza is at the wheel, it’s not a happy story. That’s actually why I like it. It’s what keeps it from being just cheesecake, there’s a real depth to Janey and her life actually sucks. Even when she wins, it’s really not that big of a win. At the end of the day, she’s alone, dead and hunted. Mendoza has really peeled back the layers of this character with the one-shots and I wish that the main series took more moments like this and slowed down and built the character up instead of constantly keeping her on the move and repeating themes. This issue is focused and fitting of the holiday because of how tragic it is.
The art by Marcelo Trom is interesting. I’m still not sure if I like it or not. It looks a little like Humberto Ramos’ style at times, but the coloring is flat and earthy which isn’t the best fit for the line work. There’s a lot of random extra characters due to the setting and all of them feel hollow and just slapped on the page. Add in the bland backgrounds and really the only thing that stands out is Janey, Jared and the two thugs they deal with. The art shows promise and actually shines at points, but overall it just wasn’t there. The coloring could have helped a lot if it was more vibrant and the lighting effects amped up.
I love holiday specials. They’re always some of my favorites to collect, but there’s a real lack of them lately. The ones that do release are sadly not worth the paper they’re printed on, but these Zombie Tramp specials have been spot on and entertaining. This isn’t just a holiday story that Mendoza has phoned in, he’s actually crafted a story that has a lot of meaning to the character’s journey. I don’t know of any other holiday special that actually manages to do that, which is a high mark in my book.
Zombie Tramp: VD Special Writer: Dan Mendoza Artist: Marcelo Trom Colorist: Marcelo Costa Letterer: Adam Wollet Publisher: Action Lab/Danger Zone Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/10/15 Format: One-Shot; Print