The Last Zombie: Before the After #2
Written By Brian Keene
Art by Fred Perry
Tones by Robby Bevard
Cover by Joe Wight
Release Date: November 21, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Reviewer bias up front: I’m all about the zombies. I can’t get enough of them. I want it all: books, comics, games, movies, television shows, costumes, races, and pub crawls. I’m all in. However, even with my near blinding infatuation with zombie stories, I can still recognize the good stories from the bad; the originals from the derivatives. Here’s my opening argument: The Last Zombie: Before the After is a damn good comic series regardless of genre. Period.
The Last Zombie is a different breed of zombie book that takes place years after the zombie apocalypse has run its course. Dr. Ian Scott is part of a mission to find out what happened to the FEMA bunker in West Virginia. They lost all contact with the bunker which also housed his fiancée, Jen. Along the journey from Colorado to West Virginia, Ian contracted the zombie virus. He has been secretly injecting himself with the precious, experimental zombie vaccine that the team is transporting to the FEMA bunker. Even with the vaccine, Ian is slowly deteriorating and succumbing to the virus. And Doctor Federman is beginning to piece together Ian’s secret.
Before The After is the fourth story arc in the series. The team takes refuge from a blizzard in an abandoned hotel. There, they investigate the premises, scavenge for supplies, and just try to endure the storm. On the surface, The Last Zombie is a simple story of surviving a mission. But each character has compelling motives and goals that immediately draw you into their personal tales. The first issue of Before the After focused on Carol revealing her gut-wrenching experience with her husband’s zombie infection. Issue #2 moves the story back to Ian and delves into his struggle to fend off his infection long enough to reunite with his fiancée.
Writer Brian Keene is a two-time Bram Stoker Award winning writer who has successfully made the jump from novel writer to comic writer. Keene brings readers right into the story. His characters are interesting and relatable with clear motivations and conflicts. The story is a unique premise for a zombie story: outside of flashbacks, there’s not a single zombie. The series is a character study about the few remaining survivors picking up the pieces of the lives they once knew.
I was immediately drawn into the story and caring about these characters. Newbies to series, like me, will have no difficulty in jumping right in to the story and getting a feel for the characters. Inside the cover of each book contains brief summaries of previous issues and the story at-large. Enough information is provided to make each book accessible. But even with these summaries, you’ll still want to scour the back issue bins just to experience all things The Last Zombie.
The Last Zombie is exactly what I look for in a comic: a seamless collaboration of art and dialogue to tell a good story. Fred Perry’s captivating art is a great complement to Brian Keene’s script. Perry’s stark contrasts and heavy blacks portray a sense of looming emptiness around every corner. It enhances the sense that something is off about this hotel and gives the comic a setting similar to The Shining. His character expressions are simple, but effectively portray the scene and augment the script.
Discovering comics like The Last Zombie is the reason why I love reviewing. I likely would’ve never found this series otherwise. Now it’s my duty to sing its praises so that you, too, can indulge in Brian Keene’s post-apocalyptic goodness. I’m a huge fan! Immediately after writing this review, I’m embarking on a personal quest to hunt down all the back issues.