Publisher: Eibon Press
Script/Layout/Letters/Editor: Stephen Romano
Pencils/Covers: Michael Broom
Inks/Additional Art: Derek Rook
Inks: Gerry Coffey
The legendary Lucio Fulci film ZOMBIE (ZOMBI 2/ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS) gets the graphic novel treatment, and I do mean “graphic!” In the first issue of this adaptation – which will then continue beyond the confines of the film’s plot – the carnage begins on page one as a horrific Voodoo ritual on the island of Matool unleashes a nightmarish horde of living dead. Meanwhile, reporter Peter West teams up with a distraught young woman seeking information about her missing father. Could they find their answers on that accursed, windswept isle?
It’s always a delight to have a reason to write a comic book review again, having written hundreds of them over the years during my time in the comics industry. In the past, I always strived to highlight aspects of a comic not often discussed in a review, and in the case of Eibon Press’ ZOMBIE, it’s absolutely essential to praise the entire package – not just the sharp scriptwriting and art, but the evocative lettering, lavish coloring, and stunning graphic design; even the quality of the paper and printing is exceptional. This is a premium release intended for fans that want to collect a truly special tribute to a horror classic.
As Eibon Press’ Stephen Romano explains in a detailed and illuminating essay in the back of the first issue, this adaptation originally appeared in 2000 in an extremely limited black-and-white edition that failed to capture the attention it deserved. But now, it has risen from the grave like a Spanish Conquistador with all the lush, lurid color that Lucio himself would have greatly appreciated.
The morgue sequence gets a substantial uplift via extended dialogue and even more grotesque action.
But rest assured, it’s not just a slavish beat-for-beat retelling. Although the comic faithfully adapts the film for the most part (its only real omission during this issue is a short bit set on a docked boat), there are a few significant and brilliant additions that enhance the story at every turn. Insight into the thoughts of many of the characters via narration gives us added perspective on numerous scenes in the story, while the morgue sequence in particular gets a substantial uplift via extended dialogue and even more grotesque action. Perhaps my favorite new material provides a confirmation of a theory I’ve often shared, as recently as on the latest DOCTOR OF THE DEAD episode about this very film – that the spread of the zombies happened on two fronts, via the reanimated morgue doctors and the boat zombie. Great minds!
But the biggest elaboration here is a new prologue that finally gives fans a glimpse of the terrifying Voodoo ritual that brought about the reanimation of the dead. It’s appropriate that this prologue and thus the entire comic starts on a close-up of an eye, not just because of the film’s iconic eye-stabbing scene but because later zombie films like 28 DAYS LATER and RESIDENT EVIL made it a reliable way into an apocalyptic story through a literal point of view. The connections to zombie stories past and present don’t end there, since the visual of a spiritual Voodoo presence also recalls Murder Legendre’s eyes from WHITE ZOMBIE. There are also some cute jokes centered on the Anne Bowles character played by Tisa Farrow in the film. For one thing, her name is repeatedly and presumably deliberately misspelled “Bowels” (zombies sure are interested in internal anatomy), and at one point Peter muses on her resemblance to a certain ROSEMARY’S BABY star.
The artistic style is loose, capturing the general look of the characters as we know them from the movie but with a quality that suggests everything can spiral into madness.
The artistic style is loose, capturing the general look of the characters as we know them from the movie but with a quality that suggests any moment everything can spiral out of control into madness. The coloring, as noted already, is rich and blood-drenched in all the right places, and the panel layouts are dynamic and inventive, rapidly propelling you through the pages. Pretty much the only thing you don’t get from this otherwise amazing adaptation is the film’s Fabio Frizzi score, so fire up iTunes or whatever music app you have (or if you’re old school, get out your soundtrack CD and player), and let it play along as you read!
This first issue ends as our heroes team up with a couple offering them a boat ride to Matool. The best is clearly yet to come, and I for one can’t wait to see what Eibon Press does with the rest of this iconic Italian zombie film. I highly recommend visiting the Eibon Press website for more on this debut issue, #2 arriving in October, and their plans for other Fulci Comics like GATES OF HELL (also known as CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) as well as their VHS Comics imprint featuring LASERBLAST!
If you want to know more about my thoughts on the film itself, check out our DOCTOR OF THE DEAD episode on ZOMBIE!