The Last Resort
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Giancarlo Caracuzzo (IDW, 2010)

I picked up The Last Resort because I liked Darwyn Cooke's stylish cover art. The stylish, exaggerated art showed a bevy of hot young vixens in peril of the zombie variety. The text on the rear cover boasts of "an entertaining and darkly over-the-top celebration of gore and sex [that] transforms a Caribbean paradise into a biological wasteland populated with homicidal flesh-eating vacationers!"


But this is definitely a case of "buyer beware" -- not because I didn't like it, which I did, but because the zany, light-hearted story promised by Cooke is not what you find inside.

Giancarlo Caracuzzo handles the interior art, and his style is far more realistic than Cooke's. Caracuzzo draws people with a tighter brush, and his action flows from the page (along with copious amounts of blood and other fluids).

Meanwhile, the story by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, while maintaining the sense of fun that permeates so many classic gross-out horror movies, is much more tense and thrilling than the cover art would imply.

The story is about an airplane full of people en route to Aruba, and the writers give us plenty of opportunity to know them all. Each has a backstory that allows readers to identify with -- and care about -- them a bit more than you might expect after so brief an introduction. The plane, of course, hits nasty weather and goes down on a nearby resort island.

The plane crash and aftermath alone are horrific, and the creative team here makes every panel count. But then, as survivors begin to wonder at the lack of aid from the island's inhabitants and set out to find help, they discover the horrible truth: a government-sponsored experiment into super-soldier pathogens has gone awry and spread from its remote lab to the general population of the island.

The result: zombies.

Zombie stories are, by nature, a little predictable, but I'll be the first to say I didn't see all of these twists coming. And, as deadly as the story is for its characters, you can tell the writers and artist had fun putting it together, giving full release to as much sex and carnage as they could pack into the pages.

All in all, it's a darn good book. The only shame is that Cooke's otherwise excellent covers didn't match the actual tone.

review by
Tom Knapp

26 February 2011

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