Night of the Living Dead: Holiday Special (2010)
By: Tristan Jones on December 15, 2010  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Cover Art
Credits
Publisher: Avatar Press
Writer: Mike Wolfer
Art: Mike Wolfer
There's clearly something wrong with me. I do not know why, but I keep going back to these fucking woeful Night of the Living Dead books. I think it's because I'm too much of an optimist. I have some sort of self-defeating personality disorder that keeps me thinking these books will pull their shit together and be as good as they damn well should be (they showed a glimmer of hope with Night of the Living Dead: The Beginning), but no, Avatar Press's Night of the Living Dead books continue to be the same pile of gratuitous drivel they've been doing since they first started picking up the horror film licenses, and this Christmas special is about as by the numbers as they come.

The set up is about as straight forward as it comes. It's basically a small group of people you know aren't going to survive a one-shot like this trapped in a house by an increasing snowstorm. That's really all you need to know. It's supposed to be 1968, but the only thing that really signifies this is a caption on the first page. From the outset, it's not a bad take on the Night of the Living Dead scenario (for those of you who aren't familiar, here's the formula: house/building + dysfunctional group of people + zombies outside = X of the Living Dead), but it takes a sharp turn for the gratuitous, instantly devolving what could have been an interesting zombie story.

I've ragged on Mike Wolfer here before. I hate doing it because his creator owned comics aren't bad at all, but he's been put in charge of one of the most respected zombie properties (if not the most respected zombie properties) of all time and he's turning it into something more in line with a Friday the 13th movie – characters you don't like and don't give a shit about, unnecessary sex scenes and nudity (no shit, the "protagonist"/victim you're meant to feel for the most is running around without pants off for over half the book; no pants whatsoever), even green zombie gas, which I don't recall being part of the Night of the Living Dead mythos at all. None of this feels like Night of the Living Dead! There's no dread, no sense of despair, no real horror and the tension between the central characters is barely there. In the Night of the Living Dead movies you liked pretty much everyone (there was always some douche-bag in the mix), so you could get involved and feel for the characters, regardless of what you thought of zombie horror in general, but here you just get a few underdeveloped plebs with no likeable or redeeming qualities whatsoever. Just overly large breasts that have a bizarre tendency to fall out of their tops.

The art, also by Wolfer, is a mixed bag. He's a very competent artist and can tell a story visually, but there's something about it that just fails to click. The colours are overly bright for a book of this nature and the lack of lighting effects really lets the book down. I think if someone else had've inked Wolfer's art, this might've helped out a bit, but everything just feels really flat and devoid of any atmosphere (something the films have an abundance of).

Unfortunately, there's not much more to say about this book. It's terrible, and it's terrible that Avatar are letting shit like this out to the public when their creator owned stuff is so impressive. Three zombies, useless characters, ridiculous nudity and a boring story that doesn't bring anything new to the table presented in an overly awkward fashion. Editorial need to pull their heads in, because the idea that someone thinks a book like this can compete in a market swimming with far superior horror material is laughable.

One final note: Avatar are also notorious for their "Gore" covers and needless variants; the "Gore" cover to this book is one of the most tasteless things I've seen. Normally you can look at these things with a good sense of humour or get a giggle from the shock value of it, but you just look at this one and think "really?". I'm not going to spoil it for those who enjoy these things, but I will say this one thing: Nativity.
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