Boom! Studios 2017
Written by Clay McLeod Chapman
Illustrated by Jey Levang
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
After a pandemic strikes, a dorm complex at a small American college is quarantined with all of the students trapped within. What first starts out as youthful freedom from authority soon devolves into a violent new society—it’s Lord of the Flies on a college campus.
First I love this premise and while it has all the hallmarks of the Rec series of movies along with the British flick Containment, Quarantine in the U.S., mixed with low budget zombie movies I find what Clay is doing here rather fun and all kinds of what could happen theoretically at any College or University. I mean c’mon we’re so used to using germ killing this and that to the point where we have no natural ability to fight off bacteria that can cause major havoc on a population. So personally I love that for the first time I’m seeing something like this in comics.
Also there’s something about the main cast Clay has assembled here that kind of strikes just the right kind of nerve. I mean the kid who’s family wants him to fly straight so off to college he goes to get with the program, the program being his fathers, a girl who comes from a small rural town steeped in religion. From them we see their roommates and their perspective of the first day on campus, move in day.
I’m actually pretty impressed with the way this book is structured as well. There’s a fast pace to it but it doesn’t feel fast. I love that feeling that you get when you read a book and feels oversized because of who much content there is but it’s really a standard sized issue. That means the pacing is far better then you thought it was and that the person crafting it has some major talent coursing through their veins, via their mind. It’s not easy to throw a lot of information at readers and expect them to not only retain it but to embrace and leave them wanting even more the way Clay has.
Now normally I’m not that big a fan of the style of work that Jey does here. However that being said it is growing on me. While it’s impressive he’s doing it all himself there’s still a very indie or amateurish look and feel to the work. By that I mean the attention to detail isn’t quite where I’d like to be and that backgrounds aren’t really utilised makes me sad. Yes we see a nice amount of diversity among the students we don’t see enough of what’s going on around them to really make an impact. I will say it’s interesting and that he has a unique point of view and does what does rather well.
So I do think the way we see things play out this issue is great and how the progress of such a epidemic like the Canine Flu, yeah not Bird Flu but Canine instead it’s go the same kind of connotation to it but is different enough to make it more unique even if it’s a blatant ripoff, sweeps through the campus. This literally is a petri dish and anyone who’s ever lived in a dorm can you tell that once one person gets sick it runs through the building at an astonishing rate. So that we see this here isn’t a big surprise but it is going to be to some. The way this whole thing has been presented to us has this great ring of authenticity to it that will surprise a lot of people.
While it’s fantastic like some sort of weird horror movie it also reads a lot like a Micheal Crichton novel too. This combination makes for some stellar reading that will thrill, entertain and amaze readers. Now here’s hoping that Clay finds a way to weave into this the actual real science behind pandemics to make that much more scary real. In the meantime this is a five issue series that you’ll need to be reading.