May 2, 2010

28 Days Later: London Calling (Review)

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28 Days Later: 
London Calling 
Volume 1: Hardcover

Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Art by Declan Shalvey
Colourist: Nick Filardi

Boom Studios: 2009


3/ 5 zedheads

A couple of weeks ago I picked up the first hardcover trade collection of Boom Studio's 28 Days Later series (#1-4). This series takes place after the events of the film 28 Days Later but before 28 Weeks Later. Because there's no unit between a day and a week, the series is just named 28 Days Later, I guess. The title is fitting, however, as the central character of the story is Selena, the female lead of 28 Days Later played by Naomie Harris in the film.

We catch up with Selena at a refugee camp in Norway. At the end of the theatrical version of 28 Days Later, Selena, Hannah, and Jim are shown to have all survived. When we meet up with Selena at the beginning of issue #1, however, Hannah and Jim are not present and their fates remain a mystery -- at least in this volume. Selena is alone, haunted by memories of the inhumane things she had to do to survive her escape from Rage-infected England. Unfortunately, her solitude is short-lived. She's contacted by an American war correspondent who wants to go back into quarantined London -- the heart of the infection --to find out what's happening behind the military blockade. Selena begrudgingly agrees to help guide his team of journalists back into hell. Of course, because this is a zombie tale, shit quickly hits the fan. They find themselves stranded on an island, and Selena has to give a group of unprepared journalists a bloody crash-course in brutal infection survival. People make stupid decisions, the group begins to splinter, and there is much carnage and gore.

The four-issue arc of 28 Days Later: London Calling has everything that makes a really ripping zombie story, and each issue is individually satisfying, but I don't think it was a good idea to limit this volume to only four issues. While we do get a very violent resolution to the four-issue story arc, the majority of the fourth issue is an extended setup for the events of issue #5 and beyond. The problem is that the ending doesn't even feel like a cliffhanger. After finishing the volume, I'm not motivated enough to seek out the next issues, but I'm not disinterested enough to entirely write-off the series either. I don't know how the fifth issue ends, but this trade collection needed something more to compel the readers forward.

Also, while I really like the line-work of Declan Shalvey, I'm not thrilled by the colour work. Everything is very muted and very dull and grainy, as if photographed by an old camera. Every scene looks like it's taking place during a grey dawn. While this certainly sets the mood in some scenes, when the action really starts to pick up the colour scheme stays in the same muted, dull tone. Shalvey's work looks very striking in black and white (almost like Tony Moore's work), but the colour work does not do it much justice.

An interesting start to the ongoing 28 Days Later series, this volume is a marginal recommendation -- not so much for the story but its hardcover, four-issue format. You may want to avoid the higher price tag of hardcover edition by going for the softcover edition or, better yet, the individual issues so you can pick up more than just the first four that are collected here.