Zombies rise and humanity as we know it is destroyed, but those born amidst and afterwards grow up in a world where fighting to survive is the norm. Rot & Ruin is a prestigious ongoing young adult series by Jonathan Maberry. It follows the life of Benny Imura and his friends fourteen years after the zombie apocalypse. Maberry is releasing a comic book tie-in set between the second and third novel. It is designed to work as an entry point into the world of story, but I think it would be better to read the books first.
A jumbo jet is spied in the sky from the Sierra Nevada town where a group of zombie survivors live. The flying vehicle is a promise of civilization, so Benny and his friends Nix, Chong and Lilah set out to find it. All four are living in the aftermath of the death of Benny’s older brother, the man who’d trained them and died to save his people. These teenagers are on their own in the woods, facing the undead with their wits and weapons.
I understand that when starting in medias res of an established world a lot of backstory is needed to keep the readers up to date. However, the captioned exposition feels a bit melodramatically ham fisted. It looks like something I would rather see as its own comic from the perspective of Benny’s brother, rather than it being retrospectively explained with illustrations. Asian-American male protagonists are rare in popular media so I was quite excited to hear that Benny is biracial until the comic mentioned samurai. To be fair, I have not yet read the novels and it is likely that the complexities of bushido are explored there in a more realistic way. At face value the glancing mention it feels like it could lead into a cliche stereotype. I like the artwork, it has good line and color. Rot & Ruin the comic shows promise, I’d like to see more of it as it picks up the pace.
Rot & Ruin #1 is now available from IDW.