by Warren Ellis, Max Fiumara, Ryan Waterhouse (Avatar, 2007)

This is not a cheery book.

Oh sure, it all starts out nice and rosy. Tyler and his girlfriend Soo are making a visit to Smoky Island so Soo can meet his parents. While they're there, they take advantage of his parents' remote cabin for a little romantic privacy -- and that outing shields them when an earthquake splits the island and an ominous black gas drifts over the town. They hike back to make sure Tyler's friends and family are OK -- and that's when things get gruesome.

The gas makes zombies. You saw that coming, right?

Warren Ellis is renowned -- or notorious, your choice -- for the graphic violence in his stories, and readers hoping for a gore-fest will go home happy. But what the story has in torn flesh, it lacks in meaningful development -- we never really get to know or care about anyone in the story. Also, Max Fiumara and Ryan Waterhouse, who share art credits on the book, aren't quite up to the task of depicting the brutal imagery Ellis's story demands.

There are a few shocking twists along the way, but "shocking twists" in zombie tales haven't truly been shocking since Night of the Living Dead in 1968.

So, is Blackgas worth your time. Absolutely, if you love zombie stories. Just don't expect anything new.

review by
Tom Knapp

19 June 2010

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