Escape of the Living Dead (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on.May 14, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Written by: John Russo
Art: Dheeraj Verma
Publisher: Avatar Press
Issues: 5
Avatar Press have hit the comic's scene with their mission statement apparent: they want to be THE comic company for horror. With licenses such as New Line's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, not to mention the now defunct Chaos! Comics' Lady Death, and Stargate SG-1 and Robocop and others, it would seem that they are looking to take the horror crown once worn by such bloodthirsty companies as Warren, or Verotik, or the before mentioned Chaos! Escape of the Living Dead is a five issue mini series all about flesh eating zombies.

Written by John Russo, the co-creator of Night of the Living Dead, Escape of the Living Dead takes place in 1971, three years after the events of Night of the Living Dead. A science lab has been experimenting on the remains of the dead, captured after that terrifying night. Unfortunately, due to an attack on a truck transporting some reanimated corpses by a Biker gang, the dead escape into a small town community and wreaks havoc, consuming the locals and destroying the township, but how can they be stopped?

Really you cannot go past the story. Taking place right after the events of Night of the Living Dead makes it a special treat for fans of Dan O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead, which was based on Russo's novel of the same name. The seventies time setting isn't really ever made too important, although there are a few 'Nam' references thrown around here and there. The rural setting makes for a fairly low tech fight back, which is really what zombie stories are about: masses of monsters attacking limited resourced defenders. The art, by Dheeraj Verma, is satisfactory, but never really rises above that. That is not to say it is bad art, it is just not very spectacular. I will give credit where credit is due though, he never shies away from nudity or gore, which, let's face it, are the cornerstone of a good zombie tale.

So far with their horror line I have been quite happy with Avatar Press except for one thing: The alternative cover thing. During the early nineties, alternate covers and cover enhancements were all the rage, but more companies fell apart from printing a ridiculous amount of alternate covers than succeeded. That's not to say the covers aren't all excellent representations of the contents, but the best enhancement a comic can have is a great story and art.
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