Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Review - Under the Flesh #1


"24 hours in a day. It took less than that for the world to be disemboweled."

Zombies have one singular goal: to destroy. Sometimes it results in a meal for them, while other times it just results in humans faced with increasing despair. Being able to fight back makes things interesting and Under the Flesh #1 wants to fight back in an interesting way. The issue is written by G. Deltrez and illustrated/lettered by J.L. Giles.

In a world ravaged by an unknown male-specific virus, mankind's last hope lies in a genetically enhanced soldier.

Working hard to eschew the stigma that comes with a zombie tale, Under the Flesh #1 offers a slight twist in the form of the main character Lt. Lobos. Deltrez offers him as a lone hero amidst a virus that turns men into flesh-eating zombies with Lobos spared only because he was fortunate enough to be undergoing a treatment that infused him with cell-fusing nanobots. Pitching a world where a virus turns men into zombies is a pretty strong metaphor as it seems Deltrez is making a bigger point about the savagery found in men. The problem with Under the Flesh #1 is that Lobos is just as misogynistic as one of the few remaining men in the world as he likely was before the world fell apart--Lobos essentially talks down to the women he's "protecting." And there are a few other male characters who have somehow avoided the transformation, only Deltrez doesn't really explain why.

The art style by Giles comes across as somewhere between unfinished and just plain visceral. The zombies are illustrated as fast and vicious, refusing to hesitate even for the slightest when it comes to tearing apart their prey. There are ready comparisons to wild animals in terms of how Giles illustrates them interacting with one another and in attacking non-zombies that make them seem formidable. Otherwise, Giles definitely gives the book plenty of gore to go along with some sex appeal prompting some to feel as if they're reading a Grindhouse comic. The colors are largely washed out, yet still effective for showcasing some of the aforementioned gore in the way of dull reds that still manage to pop against the gloomy looking settings.

Under the Flesh #1 is a new take on a familiar formula. Lt. Lobos is an alpha leader for sure, but his running crew is rounded out by mostly women and the dynamic between the two sexes is clearly at the heart of the book. Deltrez does enough to make the first issue intriguing, but in many instances the characters still fall into gender-specific archetypes. Giles's grimy artwork is an appropriate complement for the foreboding setting as it emphasizes the brutality of a world populated by men who are infected with rage. Under the Flesh #1 definitely has plenty of appeal for zombie fans looking for something a little different.

Under the Flesh #1 is available now.

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