I am always on the look out for new unique takes on the zombie genre, as of late they are rare, but Graveyard of Empires from Image Comics is just that a perfect blending of a intense war drama with the looming doom created by an zombie invasion. In this debut issue, we are introduced to a platoon of Marines serving in the Middle East faced with daily attacks from Taliban forces. It paints a very vivid and gruesomely realistic picture of what life is like for solders that find themselves on the front lines. Taking a page out of many films and television shows depicting war we spend a few days with the soldiers getting to know them and each of their personalities before any real danger emerges. A time and tested method that ensures that if anything happens to them during the rest of the series it should cause an emotional response from readers who have become attached to their favorite solider.
This first issue mostly illustrates the severity of the conflict between Marines and the Taliban forces and the tension it is causing in the community and nation wide. It is not until the very end that a new and far more dangerous enemy emerges in the form of the walking dead. This new deadly force will later force the two sides to come together in order of having any sort of hope of destroying an evil greater than their current differences. This is what makes this series such an interesting and unique take on the zombie genre, but I will go into those aspects deeper in future reviews of this series.
The war drama sections that make up most of this first issue are of the highest quality and are on par with such war classics as Apocalypse Now and Jarhead. Writer Mark Sable does a great job at recreating the war atmosphere and building relationships between the reader and the main characters separating them from random red shirts. Previously I really enjoyed Sable’s work on Two-Face Year one, now after picking up Graveyard of Empires I plan to look deeper into his career. It was very ballsy move in my opinion to even combine the current conflict in the Middle East to a zombie invasion, much less to do it such a gritty and realistic fashion. In the end, it makes for a very interesting read that I highly recommend to hardcore zombie fanatics out there, if you enjoyed World War Z chances are you will find enjoyment with in the pages of Graveyard of Empires.
On top of tremendous story telling readers are also treated to some remarkable art from fellow Grounded co-creator Paul Azaceta also known for his work on Amazing Spider-man. The art style is basic and gritty, honestly it sort of reminds me of the way many bible stories were presented early on as they were turned into story books and comics but considering the geographical location the story takes place in it really adds a extra layer of atmosphere. The gore is handled in very realistic and often grisly ways giving the writing more believability by not going too over the top and treading to deep into fantasy. This makes for a far more interesting read in my opinion and really makes the political undertones more effective and prominent giving the series a life like vibe much like the one created by World War Z.