Descent of the Dead is an independent comic series by Rich Perez, Rage Ledbetter, and Francis Penavic. The series is published by their company, Tango Unlimited (Also referred to as Tango Comics). The company is based in the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago, but the books are distanced from the both our present day and the the geographic location of the creators. The prologue of book one reveals that the story takes place in the future, the mentioned year is 2176. In the comic universe, the zombie apocalypse happened in the year 1968 and at 2176 human beings had been lulled into a false sense of security. In the prologue, we get to see everything go to Hell, essentially.
First and foremost, I want to say that I like the art style of these comics. It has a familiar feel that I appreciate. Some of the scenes remind me of work by Jhonen Vasquez on Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Invader Zim. I especially appreciate the fact that the dead actually look dead and as though they have been for a long time. Their hands have a more skeletal look than their living counter parts. Their flesh looks aged, is decaying, and there is less meat on their bones. I don’t like when zombies just look like injured people. Movies don’t have the freedom to make zombies look more creature-esque, comics do, so I’m glad they seized the opportunity to make the zombies look terrifying. The creature-like, mostly decayed appearance is completely in sync with both the idea that the apocalypse started an incredibly long time ago, and also the idea that the dead have been waiting, dormant, and have just recently struck a comfortable, vulnerable prey. I also appreciated the fact that there’s a gritty quality even among the living characters. For some reason, possibly due to the tech, a lot of the ‘good guy’ characters remind me of John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) and Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary) from Demolition Man. I’m not sure if it’s the characters themselves, the appearance, or the frequency at which “people” die, but I love the similar vibes I get. (Note: I realize this is a dated reference. 1993 was a long time ago for some of you, but this costume vaguely resembles these hi-tech suits to me, at least.)
The artist has a wonderful grasp on drawing action sequences, which is fortunate because most of the two titles I read was made up of intense action scenes. Heads explode, zombies are dismembered, robots descend from the heavens… Basically if you enjoy action, comics and zombies, you’re going to LOVE these comic! In terms of plot, I am interested in the idea of there being a human colony, and that people were divided by a previous zombie apocalypse situation. I haven’t seen the idea that zombies would come back after an initial outbreak/period of being dormant before, so I give the boys at Tango bonus points for novelty.
My only gripe is that the titles are very short. If I didn’t have Kindle Unlimited and get these books for free through Amazon I probably wouldn’t have continued downloading them after issue one. As of right now Issuess 1-5 are available on Amazon (I will link below). If you end up trying the Kindle Unlimited service I would definitely check out these comics. That being said, I would encourage the creators to consider combining the available titles into a trade comic/compilation for purchase. I think this would help justify the cost to the casual zombie fan who might be unwilling to shell out $3.99 for 20 pages of digital comic, but that’s just my humble opinion.