Writer Dave Cook
Artist Chris O’Toole
Cover art Craig Paton
Bust #1 is a strong debut into the world of comics by up and coming writer Dave Cook.
I love the cover art by Craig Paton, it is beautiful, gritty and eye-grabbing. Sadly the inside artwork is not at the same high standard, but this is to be expected in comics of course and it is still very striking. It is well shaded and thought out, never does the monochrome become confusing or dull. Sometimes the pencil work and figure perspectives could be better (I know O’Toole is capable of highly detailed work) but it does not detract from the quality of this comic. The lettering is clear and fits well, the layouts interesting yet simple.
As for Cook, another take on the zombie genre can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, Zombies are always popular, on the other the market is sodden with the entrails of the walking dead. So what makes for a good Zombie story that actually stands out? Bust certainly manages it. Perhaps it is because the Zombies are not really the focus of the story, they are just the backdrop for the tale, the setting, the cannon fodder.
Instead we get a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets Gladiator kind of feel. This is a man whose life has been completely turned around by the apocalypse; a casino card dealer that destroyed countless lives knowing the house always wins, now finding himself on the other side with the odds stacked against him and the stakes much higher.
Stuck in the last standing place in the US, a corrupt pile of sin and decay, he finds himself forced to survive zombie attacks in an arena watched by hungry spectators.
Of course there has to be a reason for a man who deals cards to end up being a hardened gladiator fighting hordes of the un-dead for the entertainment of those in control. Typically, they have his family. It is a cliche, but it works.
There is so much more to this story but I don’t want to give spoilers. For just over 30 pages it fits so much in, without feeling too rushed. It is heart felt, brutal and quite dystopian. Speculative and full of twisted poetry (the visual and metaphorical kind, not the rhyming kind!) This is a tale of redemption, rebellion, karma and purpose. But most of all, metamorphosis.
I can’t wait to see what comes next from this, because it stands alone so well. What more could Cook possibly bring to it? Has our protagonist come to his final resolve of character or is he still wandering the wastelands of his conscience?
The comic will be available in print at the Glasgow ComicCon July 4/5th
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