Posted by Don MacPherson on July 19th, 2009
The Last Resort #1
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist/Colors: Giancarlo Caracuzzo
Letters: Chris Mowry
Cover artists: Amanda Conner/Darwyn Cooke
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99 US
The punny title and what seems like a proliferation of existing zombie comics (which there isn’t, if one considers the truly dominant genre in comics) made me somewhat wary of adding another $3.99 title to the already expensive array of comics I read on a regular basis. However, a glimpse of some interior art piqued my interest enough to get me to thumb through the comic at the shop, and that was enough to convince me to give it a try. I’m glad I did. Palmiotti and Gray certainly don’t reinvent the rotting, undead wheel with The Last Resort, but they do deliver a raunchy, fun take on the genre that acknowledges how cheesy and entertaining it can be. Giancarlo Caracuzzo’s art is rich in detail but isn’t realistic either, and it maintains the high levels of energy and personality in the script.
A desperate stranger in a drifting rowboat who’s trying to flee from civilization ends up floating toward the shore of a busy Mexican beach resort, and as fears of the disaster he was trying to avoid fill his heart, a more overwhelming feeling arises in his mind: hunger. Meanwhile, back in America, dozens of New Yorkers prepare for a much-needed vacation as they board a plane bound for the warmer temperatures of a southern destination, unaware the trip is also taking them directly toward their doom.
Caracuzzo’s art reminds me a lot of the style of artist Kieron (Remains, Last of the Independents) Dwyer, as both boast somewhat exaggerated styles that convey ridiculous and grotesque elements nicely and achieving a solid balance between the two. He pours a lot of detail into each and every panel, and he captures the dingy, crowded and uncomfortable nature of a busy airport quite well. But at the same time, there’s a slightly cartoony look to the characters. The exaggerated, over-the-top reactions really enhance the humor. This is a send-up of the zombie genre, after all, so the fact that most of the players look like caricatures works. My favorite part of the art is the colors. Caracuzzo uses them to convey the warm, inviting nature of the tropical backdrop at the beginning of the issue, but there’s still a muted, even dreary tone to the colors that’s in keeping with the horror elements. That dreariness also comes in handy in the airport scenes, further reinforcing the inhospitable nature of the hectic, artificial environment.
This comic book boasts two separate covers, one of which is by the brilliant Darwyn Cooke. I’m a huge fan of Cooke’s work, but surprisingly, I opted for the Amanda Conner group-shot cover. That’s because hers is more on point with the nature of the story; furthermore, I found it serves as an easy reference guide to the cast of characters. Cooke’s cover is cute and definitely eye-catching, but it doesn’t really speak much to the story.
There’s a definitively raunchy side to this book that one could interpret as gratuitous, but ultimately, it proves to be part of the book’s charm. From the young lovers humping whenever they get the chance to the pilots trading stories of conquests, Palmiotti and Gray expose the raw side of humanity. And after all, sex and horror go hand in hand. So does cursing and low-brow humor, so in this context, it’s all not only easily forgivable but entertaining in a guilty-pleasure kind of way. It wouldn’t be a parody of zombie flicks without some R-rated content above and beyond the gore, after all.
The writers introduce a lot of characters in this first issue, which makes sense, since there are a lot of meals to be served to the monsters that await them down south. I appreciated the diversity of the cast. Some are assholes and horndogs, yes, but others are far more sympathetic. Now, given the size of the cast and space constraints, we don’t get full-fledged character studies here. It’s hard to get to know these characters beyond the archetypes they represent. But I appreciated just about every small moment the writers were able to provide. 7/10
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