Review - Rot and Ruin #1

"After all...what else is there?"

Rot and ruin go together like peanut butter and jelly. The biggest difference between the two though is the former feels a little more depressing, while the latter is a bit more delicious. They're both pairings though and comic book publishers probably won't do as well if they sold books about peanut butter sandwiches. To that end, IDW Entertainment is offering up Rot and Ruin #1, written by Jonathan Maberry, illustrated by Tony Vargas, colored by Oliver Lee Arce and lettered by Robbie Robbins.

Benny Imura and his friends Nix, Lilah, and Chong are a group of kids who are trying to survive fifteen years into the zombie apocalypse. They're doing so based on the survival skills they've acquired doing just that, in addition to being pretty handy with a samurai sword. Now, the roaming Ronin are trying to stay one step ahead of the zombies. As it turns out though, life in a post-apocalyptic world is rarely easy and the group find themselves in one sticky situation after another. Their mission is to find an airplane that may be a sign of potential freedom.

Zombie and vampire stories are more or less a dime a dozen these days, but at least Maberry offers up one that comes at the action from a slightly different angle. He presents a viewpoint of youths, reconciling their teenage years with an abundance of violence and zombies. Benny and his friends seem more than competent enough to survive, while at the same time showcasing traits indicative of their age. Maberry's dialogue also does well as framing them as samurai in many ways; they roam the countryside in search of someone to offer their services too. Additionally, the first issue is paced well and features ebbs and flows synonymous with fighting for your life on a daily basis.

There are some really impressive art styles in the book, courtesy of Vargas. The first few pages are particularly clever, as they show a samurai sword moving progressively further and further across the page as the events leading up to the present are recounted. He relies on a really thick line style that does enough to distinguish between the main characters and the zombies who now rule the world. There are some splashes of red here and there to signify the blood, which Vargas adds relatively tastefully and doesn't allow them to overtake the book for the most part. There's an elegant simplicity in his style that manages to offer up detailed illustrations that work very well for the content of the book.

Rot and Ruin #1 is a very slick take on a somewhat tired subject. Benny and his friends are very convincing as reluctant survivors, all struggling to eke out a life within the parameters of the new world order established. Maberry's dialogue is pretty snappy and gives the characters a lot of life, helping to move the story along at an even pace. Vargas' illustrations are very well-matched to the tale and offer some creative takes on some of the action on the pages. Rot and Ruin #1 is a pretty solid first issue and actually feels pretty fresh, despite it being another books about that time when zombies ruled the world.

Rot and Ruin #1 is in stores today.