Dead of Winter is definitely a good surprise. At first look, you might think it’s just The Walking Dead set during the wintertime. Yet, as you begin to page through the story, you start to see it’s a much different zombie experience than its predecessors. In fact, this comic actually makes fun of the whole setting it’s in. In that regard, it is pretty original. The characters, while they are fighting for their lives, do not take themselves too seriously whatsoever. Writer Kyle Starks knew exactly what he was doing when he put this story together. Paired with its tongue-in-cheek humor and a great cast, every page is another gold mine.
The issue begins by putting us directly into the lives of survivors. It’s obviously not easy for anyone struggling in a zombie apocalypse, nonetheless being in the middle of winter. Don and Dick are those first two we’re introduced to, and it’s quite obvious the only way they know how to process the craziness around them is by making fun of it. They are kids and we shouldn’t expect them to have all the adult worries that characters like Gabriel and Ruckus have. Gabriel and Ruckus come to rescue them by sending a dog with a note. It’s truly funny that the dog’s note tells them to look at the waving people. For all Don, Dick, and the others could know, it may be a trap.
That’s the difficulties inherent in this struggle. You never know in this difficult world of zombies and winter who may be trustworthy or who might not be. Yet, Gabriel and Ruckus turn out to be the real deal and a dynamic duo that is seeking to make a difference. To think these guys are able to maintain a sense of humor throughout everything happening just as Dick and Don do is quite astonishing. Since Gabriel and Ruckus are both adult men, you might think there would be more differences between them and Dick and Don. Yet, Starks shows that these men are still just kids at the end of the day and may be enjoying this adventure a little bit like the kids are too.
The funniest part of the issue is when Starks spotlights Sparky the Dog as Sparky the Super Dog in a one-page short where he runs to save Timmy in the well like the dog, Lassie. It’s a funny reference to the old TV show, Lassie, with the dog everyone knows that goes onto save Timmy in the well. It quickly, however, moves back to the main narrative with Arthur, a former principal, worrying about Gabriel and Ruckus since they were going to get Dick and Don. You would probably be worried, too, if your only source of food and supplies vanished for some time. For a lot of these characters, it’s just about survival.
Eventually, they motion over with Carla, a police dispatcher, and Annaleigh, a lawyer, to go and seek out more supplies at the old police station. Yet, they soon discover after making a quick stop at a grocery store there are others there potentially. Starks leaves us quite perturbed on the last page with what seems to be a drunk cannibal man. Alongside Starks, Gabriel “Gabo” Bautista truly illustrates a comic that draws you in. What is especially great is his use of colors. The scenery pulls the reader into the narrative with how colorful and artistic the different characters are.
At the end of the issue, you have laughed and realized that while this is a survival tale, it’s more of a comedy than anything else, which is a good change of pace for these stories. When Arthur mentions how Sparky looks into his eyes like the billboard in The Great Gatsby, you realize exactly what this writer and artist team are going for: satire and comedy.
Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.