Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space!: Volume 1 (2015) - Horror Graphic Novel Review
From the title alone I had the feeling Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space! (created and written by Jave Galt-Miller who describes it as 80's B-movie in style) would be something different to the norm. I wondered just how lesbian zombies would actually work and if the portrayal of women would be offensive. The answer to that last question is that this comedy horror is offensive in many ways, but if your the sort of person who would buy a comic with that title then your going to find lots to love here. Volume 1 contains the first four issues which originally came out in 2015.
Gwen and her girlfriend are out in woodland when they hear a mighty crash. Going to investigate they come across a smoking crater with a naked women in the centre, the strange women quickly seduces the girlfriend using some strange powers, but Gwen runs away in terror to report the incident to the police. Later on that day porn obsessed comic store clerk Wally (or Ace as he likes to be known) has arranged to secretly film his friend having a threesome, however his excitement turns to horror when the two females turn on his friend and bite off his manhood. It seems a female based zombie apocalypse has started. Ace too heads to the police station just as this unfolding situation begins to be a major threat to the town...
So volume 1 is the first four issues of what is to be a seven part series (volume 2 is in the works, or maybe even out). The action all unfolds at a break neck pace, in that sense this is spot on. For me I just didn't enjoy what The Walking Dead comics try to do; that of character development over everything else with the zombies relegated to the background. I also didn't enjoy the Night of the Living Dead comic series as while very gory they just had no substance to them. Here the threat is very much at the forefront with it affecting everything the main characters do but with a comedic edge giving this warmth. Each of the four issues while obviously linked by a singular story has the feel of an episode to it. It is actually well paced with the right amount of gory violence, comedy and downtime to never feel bloated or mindless. It is all drawn with wonderful expressive art, and bright, vibrant colouring to give it a quality feel. My favourite example of this is in issue 1 where Ace is warned not to leave his moped outside the police station by a traffic cop, Ace tells him he is there on urgent business so not to give him a ticket...cut to a fantastic panel of Ace in the background going into the station, while in the foreground is the cop furiously writing out a ticket; cracks me up every time I look at it. This lovable art style and attention to the little details really gives Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space! a warm feeling that shines out over all the political incorrectness.
So the lesbian zombies...women are for the most part not portrayed well here, it could be seen as very sexist, there are plenty of jokes about lesbians, while the central hunger these zombies have is not for eating brains, but for eating men's privates. The zombies are all female, they have glowing green eyes and drab skin and are actually able to talk, even if the majority of their speech involves what they desire most. The part I think people might take offence at is that when they are not killing men they are making out with each other, there is lots of titillation for titillation's sake including (at least in the beginning) a few awkward to read sex scenes. I get this is designed to pander to the male demographic but there is a heck of a lot of female nudity here, all the zombies appear nearly or fully naked while the men are all mostly fully clothed, also it was a shame that the zombies are all pretty much a males idealisation of the female body; slim and big breasted. As the comic goes on though these female zombies look more and more undead and monstrous which I did approve of. This may be sexist in a sense, but at least it is not misogynistic, the only violence or hatred against actual living women shown here is just inferred from what I assume will be shown to be bad people.
But on a slightly different note in no way does this portray men as the superior sex, there is no better example than main leads Ace and Gwen. Gwen is shown to be the brains of the two often exasperating at Ace's one track mind, such as her almost having to constantly drag him away from the latest batch of scantily clad zombies he sees. I actually quite enjoyed the friendship these two disparate people build up over the four issues, though the sub plot involving what Ace did at the high school prom I could not care less about, so I didn't see the need for the comic to revisit that subject several times. Men in general are shown as sex obsessed with many times victims being unable to pay any attention to the warnings of others and get themselves killed as a result of their stupidity, so in terms of portrayal they maybe come off even worse a lot of the time.
By having a head strong female lead and tempering the dominance of the men Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space! avoids delving too deeply into outdated thoughts. It also never takes itself seriously being full of some terrible jokes, but also some pretty funny ones, again made all the better by the attractive art and colouring. It was good to see a lot of the humour doesn't rely on sex jokes. There is plenty of blood and guts with head explosions, limbs ripped off, and organs eaten all with great looking bright red claret. From the initial outbreak to the doomed church based hideout of the towns survivors (involving an exorcism and lesbian zombie nuns obviously), to a plan of escape and action there is a lot contained in this 122 page volume, it makes me excited to see where else this thrill ride can go. A unique spin on a traditional zombie outbreak story, it may be very sleazy and offensive at times with it's subject matter but this was quite enjoyable regardless of that due to being fun rather than mean spirited. Check out the website where issue 1 can be read for free if you so wish and see if this is to your undead tastes, be aware it is very NSFW though...