• Kiss Zombies #1 (Dynamite Entertainment) Comic Review



    Released by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: November 6th, 2019.
    Written by: Ethan Sacks
    Illustrated by: Rodney Buchemi
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    Have you ever wondered what would happen if the members of KISS turned into zombies? No? Me neither. And you won’t find that out by reading this comic. At least, not this first issue. But hey, let’s give this one a shot, shall we? This review gets a bit spoilery, but it’s the first issue and first issues set everything up. You kind of need to know if the setup sounds good if you’re going to be in this one for the long haul.

    The first page lets us know that we’re in New Detroit, some decades in the future, a world without heroes. Here a young man in Gene Simmons’ makeup gripes to a guy holding a torch that they’ve been living a lie! This young man is tied to a wooden pole, which makes that torch a bit more ominous. Another young man, Crusher (Hey, I thought this was KISS Zombies not Cramps Zombies…), and his lady friend, Laila, who is every inch a lady, watch from a distance. The guy with the torch gets closer to burning him alive while the young man on the pole, who we learn was named Ben, sings ‘I want to rock ‘n roll all night… and party every day,’ which, honestly, is how I hope to go when it’s my time. Then, as Ben yells out ‘Please don’t let me die, father!’ a horde of creatures of the night… flesh eating zombies, comes out of nowhere and chows down on him! Maybe he should have said, ‘Dad, come on and love me’ but he didn’t and now he’s dead.

    It’s a striking introduction, but a word balloon whisks us an hour into the future where Ben and Laila confront the burned guy’s father for… burning his son. It’s too bad there wasn’t a firehouse nearby to put him out. Either way, fathers shouldn’t burn their sons. The old man, however, explains his reasons – see, music has been outlawed, they had to do it because the zombies are drawn to sound and there are enough of them that, if attracted by the music, well, they’ll bring down the walls. You can’t love it loud in the future, it’ll lead to certain doom. Anyway, he had to choose, and so he did. The old guy storms off but Laila? She sure knows something. She’s got something she needs Crusher to see – she’s got a radio! Those are outlawed, but she’s got one anyway, because “hoping not to die is not a life.” She also lives to win. On top of that she wants a real hope – when the guy with glasses who has been tagging along, his name is Hank, puts on the headphones, he hears a loop that Laila tells him are coordinates… coordinates that lead to New York, a city with a groove. They figure since New Detroit is in mourning for Ben, now is the time to head out and see what Laila found on the radio and if it can help what’s left of civilization. Why? Well, clearly they’ve got nothing to lose.

    The trio climbs a ladder and heads out into the outside world and, of course, come face to face with some zombies. A fight breaks out but again, they have to be quiet BECAUSE IF IT’S TOO LOUD YOU’RE TOO OLD! No… no, that’s not it. They have to be quiet because there are a LOT of zombies around that are drawn to sound. Thankfully, Laila is like Daryl from The Walking Dead and she’s got a crossbow. Crossbows are pretty quiet. It might be better if she had a guitar that launched rockets or a bass shaped like an axe, but that would be louder than a crossbow. Hank gets a truck and the three of them are off. We see a box labeled ‘INFLATABLE RAFT’ in the back of the truck, which might be important later. It isn’t. Anyway, the old guy, ‘The Leader,’ sees them leave and, ooooh yeah, he looks pissed.

    You might as well call Hank Mr. Speed. They strut down I-75, which someone spray painted ‘HOTTER THAN HELL’ on, through Toledo and past Freedom Falls, which is probably not a real place, and eventually wind up in New York City where…well, if a zombie plague were to break out, would you want to go to the most densely populated city on the continent? Hordes of the undead swarm, but our three flaming youths grab some CitiBikes and make their way into Manhattan to the place talked about on the radio… ‘The Garden.’ There’s a KISS poster hanging outside the venue, but they seem oblivious to that. They walk by moonlight into what is clearly Madison Square Garden, fight some more zombies, get overwhelmed and wind up in the bowels of the venue where they come across four cryogenic tubes. What could be inside? Why, “The Best”, of course. Have they hit rock bottom? We’ll find out next issue.

    Ethan Sacks’ story doesn’t get too in-depth yet, it’s more concerned with setting up the action. And that’s okay, because it sets up the action well enough. We’ll probably get more details as the rest of the story plays out but this first issue throws an intriguing concept at us – zombies are drawn to noise so shut up or get eaten – and runs with it. The story takes a few characters out of their comfort zone into the middle of a zombie outbreak in hopes of finding some help. It works. Presumably we’ll get a bit more character development as things evolve. As to KISS’ role? That hasn’t been established yet but it’s a sure thing that it will be in the next issue. This makes for a fun read – not deep, mind you – but fun, which describes KISS accurately enough. You come to KISS’ music for big, dumb spectacle not introspection or social commentary, and that’s pretty much what this first issue’s story line gives you.

    The art by Rodney Buchemi, with colors by Dijjo Lima, is decent. The architecture of New York City would have been done better, particularly the Madison Square Garden exteriors, but then, as someone who walks by that building on the way to/from the day job, I’m probably more susceptible to that then most would be. Detail could be better – there are one or two panels where background characters don’t have facial features – but the layouts are pretty good and the main characters are illustrated quite well.
    Buchemi does have a knack for drawing zombies quite well and the big full panel last page is really strong.

    There’s enough going on in this first issue to make you want to come back for the second. So far, it’s pretty standard zombie fare but we know that’s going to change soon enough, and once it does, this could get interesting. Essential reading? More like a fun diversion - and we all need fun diversions now and then. Oh, and the cover art from Arthur Suydam is fantastic.

    *This review was written while listening to KISS Alive.