As I mentioned in a zombie-related post last week, the zombie genre has come a long way over the years. Due to the genre’s popularity among fanboys and fangirls, geekdom has witnessed shambling zombies, running zombies, zombies that can learn, and much, much more. Well, a new evolution is taking place in the genre, and a new form of zombie is now emerging: the “hero” zombie!!!
With new additions to the genre like Warm Bodies or Zombie with a Shotgun, the walking dead are stepping into the spotlight and claiming the protagonist role for themselves. Zombie Tramp, created, written, and illustrated by Dan Mendoza and published by Action Lab Comics, takes the “zombie hero” concept one slightly sexy and slightly disturbing step further with Janey Belle, an undead former call girl who just can’t seem to keep her panties on. With Zombie Tramp, I feel like Mendoza has a good “grindhouse” hook here, and he definitely has a talent for drawing smoking hot zombies. I’ve seen Mendoza’s banner in the small press sections at various cons, featuring Janey Belle coyly pulling her undies down while giving you that “I’m gonna bite your face off” gaze and I’ll admit it . . . my inner teenage boy was intrigued (and fairly turned on). While the “hero zombie” seems to be catching on, the “sexy zombie” still seems like a fairly fresh concept.
In Zombie Tramp’s latest issue, Zombie Tramp: The Taint Train of Terror! #1, Janey Belle spends some time being naked and chewing on people’s faces before setting out on the road with her pint-sized (and fairly evil) companion, Morning. The pair plans to kill Morning’s parents (also apparently evil) and find the soul of Janey Belle’s deceased friend, Xula.
Morning serves as a good companion for the lead character, both contrasting with Janey Belle’s zombie bombshell and playing with the “creepy child” motif that has a beloved spot in the horror genre. While I’ve seen some fuss online and in other reviews regarding the sexually exploitative nature of Zombie Tramp, I’ve got to say that the book delivers exactly what the cover and title promise and approaches the material in a way that is less about defining the way all female characters should be approached in comics and is rather a celebration of quirky horror and blood-drenched sexuality.
While there was a lot I dug about Zombie Tramp: The Taint Train of Terror! #1, I did have a few issues that should be mentioned. The book absolutely needs to go full color. I’m not sure whose idea this current limited color scheme was, but it feels so unfinished that it sucks some of the inherent fun out of the book. Perhaps there are explanations beyond my knowledge, but it seems like the printing costs would be the same whether full color or limited color, and Mendoza has tons of examples available of his stunning color work, so I’m not sure why this decision was made. In addition, there seemed to be some minor misspellings in the lettering and one or two occurrences of confusing panel layout.
My final note can’t really be held against the current issue, as it could have to be rescinded depending on how the rest of the series plays out. I guess it is less of a negative note and more of an ardent hope. I feel Zombie Tramp has the potential to be a quirky, sexy addition to the horror genre and much more than just undead cheesecake, so hopefully Mendoza helps the story stretch its wings over the next three issues.
None of these are fatal flaws for the book, so if you’re a fan of zombies, naked girls, or creepy, evil children, then be sure to pick up Zombie Tramp: The Taint Train of Terror! #1.
FINAL SCORE: 3 Naked Zombies out of 5
’Till the end of the world,
Bryant the Comic Book Slayer