The Rabid
by Jason M. Burns, Guy Lemay (Viper, 2008)

The shelves of fiction and graphic fiction are filled with a lot of the same monsters, who recur with annoying regularity. In the hands of a good writer, vampires and werecats can still be a lot of fun, but with the field so crowded, it takes a really good story to excel.

Kudos to Jason M. Burns for trying something different. In The Rabid, as you might guess from the title, a virulent new strain of rabies spreads quickly through a small town, infecting dogs and people alike. As the townsfolk grow increasingly wild and bloodthirsty, the local sheriff does his living best to protect his wife, son and a small herd of survivors.

Concept, good. Execution? Unfortunately, Burns falls quickly into a rut. When dogs are infected (apparently via some psychic doggy connection), they act like rabid dogs. When people are infected (through bites), they turn green and act like zombies.


I really hoped to see this one go a different way. But no, infected humans instantly turn green (for no reason that I can gather except to make their identification easier) and shamble about, drooling and growling through broken teeth as they feast on their family, friends and neighbors. Fortunately, the sheriff -- handlebar mustache a-twirl -- is a crack shot, as are his deputy (who gets around remarkably well despite a compound leg fracture) and his "glorified secretary" and dispatcher, Fran.

Besides the zombification of rabies victims, the story unfolds at such a breakneck pace that Burns never really builds much tension. So far as I can tell, the plague begins and ends in less than a day, moving quickly from crisis to crisis to crisis and, boom, we're done. Perhaps if Burns had a few more pages to work with -- Viper books, I've noticed, tend to be very short -- he could have fleshed out the story more fully.

review by
Tom Knapp

26 July 2008

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