Review: Snow White Zombie Apocalypse #1 (Scout Comics)

Based on the title and cover of Snow White Zombie Apocalypse, we were expecting a fairly generic zombie fairytale. But instead we get a fantastically original post-modern mash up of undead monsters and fairytale characters that fizz with attitude to make this something really fresh and fun – even in the face of a flesh eating apocalypse!

Publisher: Scout Comics
Writer: Brenton Lengel
Artist: Hyeondo Park
Price: TBC from Scout Comics

Snow White Zombie Apocalypse (SWZA for short) starts with a twist on the Red Riding Hood story which sees our heroine attacked by an undead Big Bad Wolf, and gives us the opposite of a happy ending. A charming prince is soon on the scene to help dispatch the blood thirsty wolf, yet in a smart subversion of the classic fairytale myth, it is not him, but a plucky female fighter who delivers the killing blow and we are introduced to our heroine – Rapunzel.

With the feisty skills of Katnis Everdeen and the sassy attitude of Harley Quinn, this is not your trad Disney version of Rapunzel. Instead she is an ass kicking zombie hunter who has teamed up with Prince Charming – who she has a love/hate relationship with, thanks to his tendency to kiss any female in the forest, and also for taking her away from her nice safe tower. The remainder of the story sees our heroes encounter other fairytale folk with increasingly gruesome outcomes and delivers a fantastic mix of blood and guts, but with some sparkling dialogue and really engaging and sassy characters.

While we see plenty of post modern zombie comics, we have not seen many with quite as many smarts as SWZA. Writer Lengel uses his fantastically fun characters to power this book along and the mix of sparkling dialogue, and smart in jokes that poke fun at fairytales and zombie cliches alike make this a really engaging read. Whether it is Rapunzel berating Charming for kissing any inanimate corpse like girl in the woods (aka Snow White), or Snow White having been asleep for 28 Days, Lengel manages to make this into much more than just another wannabe Marvel Zombies, or Walking Dead parody book.

The subversion of gender roles, making Charming into a bit of a goof and Rapunzel into a plucky heroine, also helps to really breathe life into what could have been a fairly unoriginal concept. While we may have seen this in other concepts like Snow White Monster Hunter, what makes this one different is that story retains a level of humour and fun throughout, and never becomes po-faced and too serious – even in the face of a terrifying monster. It’s perhaps a reflection of why comics is the prefect medium for a concept like this (although Lengel originally ran this as a play, which we’d love to see!)

The artwork from Hyeondo Park certainly helps bring this title to life. It has some of the expressive characterisation of J Scott Campbell, especially in Rapunzel (but without some of Campbell’s slightly outdated attitudes to the female form), and at time we found ourselves reminded of the awesome Battle Chasers from Joe Madureira or The Last Sheriff from Reckless Hero – especially with green colour scheme from Jio Butler.

While Park gives the characters a lightness and energy to the character (which we don’t often see in a zombie book), there is also plenty of blood and guts for the gore-hounds. This balance of the light and dark reminded us of  Sink with it’s graphic gore that is under pinned by some great characterisation and a dark and outrageous sense of humour – the scene involving a disembowelled Big Bad Wolf will certainly stay with us for sometime!!

With notes in the back hinting at a larger world and featuring characters who we have yet to see, this is a comic which is packed with potential to become something really outrageous and fun. Whether the concept has enough in the tank to sustain a longer run depends on the originality of Lengel’s writing, but based on this debut issue we think there are plenty of dark and strange places for this fantastic story to head. But don’t expect anyone to end up living happily ever after!