’68 is a grisly, graphic and wholly satisfying new comic book series from the minds of Mark Kidwell (story), Nat Jones (pen and inks), Jay Fotos (colors) and Jason Arthur (lettering). The four-part series, which is based on a one-shot from 2006, offers an alternative history to the military conflict in Vietnam.
It features a debauched scene where the dead come back to life and the living are faced with the prospects of a vanishing civilization.
Quite simply, ’68 is one of the strongest releases from Image Comics and serves as a worthy addition to the growing lore of zombie fiction.
Issue #1, released earlier this year, offers several different cover options. One of the best is of a rotted corpse biting a grenade through his teeth. It instantly sets the mood for the reader: These aren’t going to be your grandmother’s zombies.
The inaugural issue is broken into two parts.
The first section, titled “And If You Go Chasing Rabbits,” deals with the main story of ’68: A fire team finds itself deep in the Vietnamese jungles looking for an outpost that has gone off the radio grid. Before they begin their journey, we get to know a little bit about the surroundings.
Snipers question why their supposed kills are still in the same place a day later, as if they never dropped dead. Doctors wonder why the body bags of their fallen comrades are beginning to move. It’s wartime, so death is already in the air. But now it seems as if that fact has taken on a new warped reality.
When we meet up with the fire team heading to the outpost, we find a Chinese-American soldier who, during breaks from battle, writes despondent journal entries to his parents back home. He’s too young to be fighting in the war, and, according to his comrades in the field, too Asian to be distinguished from the enemy.
When the team stumbles upon the opening to a dubious tunnel, he is sent in head-first to find out what’s lurking beneath the surface. What he finds is truly horrifying and sets the comic book in motion, hopefully for many more issues beyond its expected four parts.
Kidwell has a nice handle on the story, focusing on the soldiers and their plight in the field. The dialogue is slangish and largely believable. Jones and Fotos offer stunning visuals, many of them graphic displays of fetid human meat. There are many drawings that stand out, but perhaps none more than a soldier crawling through the tunnel with a carousel of hands reaching through the packed dirt.
And the visual conclusion of “And If You Go Chasing Rabbits” is a monster that needs to be seen to be believed.
In the second, smaller section of ’68’s first issue, titled “Mouths of Babes,” we find a side story involving soldiers attacked by a zombie child with a tooth problem. It’s a nice little yarn that proves to be a fitting capstone to the inaugural issue.
As the issues continue to roll out for ’68, there should be many iconic covers that abound. According to notes from the creators, each issue will feature a cover with an interior scene from the main story and a scene from the memorable decade of the 1960s.
Whatever the future may hold for ’68, count me a fan. This is historical fiction at its visual best.By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
“And If You Go Chasing Rabbits” – Story by Mark Kidwell, pen and inks by Nat Jones, colors by Jay Fotos and lettering by Jason Arthur
“Mouths of Babes” – Story by Kidwell, pen and inks by Tim Vigil and colors by Fotos
Bubble score: 4 out of 4
Click here to read a review of ’68 #2.
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