Review – Graveyard of Empires #1

When I think of Afghanistan and its history of war and conflict the title of this comic becomes incredibly relevant. So many countries and empires have tried to fight wars there – you may be aware of our own current quagmire there – and the country has a history of not letting people leave feeling they got the better of the fight.

This book begins as a war documentary of sorts, being heavily influenced by research and correspondence with the late Tim Hetherington – a photojournalist who worked extensively in some of the heaviest combat areas in the country. The majority of this book focuses on the soldiers and presumably what happens at a base.

If all Mark Sable was writing – with Paul Azaceta on art, colors by Matt Wilson and letters by Thomas Mauer and published by Image Comics – was a comic based on war journalism then Image would have had a great book on their hands. This a comic book however, and there is always a twist. Can you imagine a worse place to be during zombie uprising then a war zone with no real backup for days? I’m not sure I can. Continue on after the break for a closer look at the first issue.

The first 32 pages out of this 36 page title are gripping, disturbing and brilliant. I’m not sure if some liberties have been taken with the daily lives of soldiers that are shown in between mortars falling and attacks on their compound by terrorists, but nevertheless I was drawn in. You really get an idea of why war is as horrifying as it is and why soldiers come back with the issues they often do.

This comic makes me believe that Sable and Azaceta really did their homework on what it's like to be in a heavy combat zone. The emotions and varying personalities of the soldiers come out really well in the writing and the combat is convincing. In the last two pages Z Day occurs, and the first contact the men have with zombies occurs. It's a briefly terrifying encounter that foreshadows the fact that things in a place best described as hell are about to get much more complicated.

I suppose the one thing that could be the downfall of this book is that there really is a saturation of big time zombie stories out there right now. In all forms of entertainment media I just feel like zombies are reaching the point where there is nothing left to explore. That being said, I don’t remember seeing anything that had the look and feel of this title and the setting of an outbreak in an ALREADY wartorn land. Usually the zombies are the ones who bring about mass destruction.

My only hope is that this doesn’t devolve into typical zombie fare because the inside look at soldiers under fire and extreme stress was as compelling with the art and style as a Band of Brothers or a Blackhawk Down type of title and I was really digging it. It felt brutal, emotional and real, and I’d hate for this title to lose that to become just another book in the zombie genre.

Graveyard of Empires #1 should be in stores now. Happy reading.