Brightest Daycare

'68: Last Rites #1 Review

review postRyan ClarkComment
'68: Last Rites #1 cover A by Jeff Zornow and Jay Fotos

'68: Last Rites #1 cover A by Jeff Zornow and Jay Fotos

I think I missed out on the first volume of ’68 in single issues, just barely- during one of my many “hiatuses” from comics in my younger days. But thankfully, I picked up the first trade in time to start in on the second ’68 series “Scars”. I really liked the visuals of this series- the gory covers and the no-pulled-punches artwork that really showed just how gross, decayed and gross zombies could look. I also liked that it was a war comic without being “just” a war comic book. It offered more than you could get from just reading reprints of old Sgt. Rock books. The story has grown and changed, and we have moved on from the jungles of Vietnam, to now seeing the zombie plague taking hold, and decimating our way of life here stateside.

I wasn’t sure how the series was going to progress once we moved beyond it’s original premise- both in the geographic location AND in the timeline (it is now officially 1970 in the timeline for a book named after the year 1968- maybe I just have to think of this as a “War of 1812” situation). Now that I have seen how the story has adapted, and how the change in venue has caused the story to change as well, I think that this series, and this world, could carry on seemingly forever…

lastrites1

 

After reading ’68: Bad Sign, I thought that maybe the “dalliance” with the American side of this world was ending- Rule of War was a miniseries that really helped to let the zombie outbreak sprawl into the countries surrounding Vietnam, so it would make sense for there to be a bit more small-scale storytelling in those regions, instead of building up a whole new world in the zombie-stricken America. The one-shot story in Bad Sign was anything but; it was a really interesting and unique take on the Zodiac killer in California, except now, he is operating in a land decimated by zombie outbreak, and able to function in an entirely different capacity (while still being a murderous psychopath). I thought that Bad Sign was a great piece of transitional storytelling for this creative team, and it really opened up the world that we saw the beginnings of in “’68: Homefront”. I thought that Homefront was probably the weakest outing in the series to date- and that is including Last Rites, even after just one issue. Homefront didn’t seem to have much in the way of characterization, or anyone in the books that really spoke to me on an emotional level.

This book has a TON of emotional moments- there are characters that you immediately identify with, and have sympathy towards, so when anything happens to them (and it will- it’s the freaking zombie apocalypse!!!) you will feel that emotional gut-punch. I loved seeing Yam brought back into the storyline, having all those threads drawn back together. The moment that stuck out for me in this issue was a bit of throwaway subtle humor; seeing who I am about 99.9% sure is John Lennon accepting a cup of hot tea, and using his words of “thanks Luv” to transition into talking about another character- Jennifer Love. That, and the Andy Warhol scene was just fantastic…

Later on in this scene, someone yells out "Pop art is for pansies!!!"

Later on in this scene, someone yells out "Pop art is for pansies!!!"

 

After we deal with the scenes taking place in the “refugee camp” locale, we move across the country to a meeting with newly appointed world leader Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon, and a masked (lunatic- is that too strong a word??) man named “Charlie” who, again I am 99.9% sure is meant to be Charles Manson- the revisionist history is strong with this one… Nixon is leader of the world, Charles Manson is free, the Zodiac killer has a whole different approach to his “craft” AND THERE ARE FLIPPING ZOMBIES EVERYWHERE?!?!?!? To quote comic strip character Cathy- “ACK!!!”

"Nixon v. Manson" who would have ever guess this could have happened, eh???

"Nixon v. Manson" who would have ever guess this could have happened, eh???


The end of the book- not to give too much away- transitions back overseas, and we see that the book hasn’t completely abandoned our characters still back in ‘Nam. And it still looks like there is a lot of work to be done in this world, all across this world, if the human race is to survive…

I really like the direction this book is taking, and if you haven’t read any of the ’68 series before, you really should- zombie fever (not the kind that makes you hungry for brains, though…) is running absolutely WILD, and I don’t see why this series isn’t bigger than it is. If you are a fan of any of the zombie stuff out there in the world today- you should go out and pick up ’68: Better Run Through The Jungle, because it is a great read, and completely worth your time- then, come get Last Rites, and catch up with what has been going on in the ’68 universe, because it has been a lot. This is not a book for children, though- so don’t expect this to be all-ages. Adult zombie fans only, please…