Top 10 Zombie Comics To Rot Your Brain

Anyone whose mother ever said “Those comic books will rot your brain!” knows a thing or two about decomposing gray matter. So, how wonderfully appropriate to talk about some of the best zombie comics out there! The great thing about zombies is that they could potentially pop up anywhere – all you need is a glowing comet passing through Earth’s atmosphere, an unexplainable gas cloud erupting from an underground fissure or some good old-fashioned biochemical engineering gone wrong. And there have been multitudes of books out over the years, fitting every possible locale and time period, so where to begin? Well, let me suggest my ten faves and we can go from there.

1. The Walking Dead (Image Comics, 2003-present) I almost feel bad for numbers 2-10 by including this book, because it leaves a hell of a legacy to live up to. Any non-anthology horror comic to reach issue #50 (let alone #71, which drops April 28th) is remarkable. In 2003, writer Robert Kirkman introduced the world to Rick Grimes, a small-town cop who wakes up in a hospital shortly after zombies have begun their reign of terror. As Rick finds his family, they discover more survivors trying to find somewhere secure to start a new life. But is there any safe harbor in a sea of the undead?

This book proves that storytelling can create just as visceral a reaction as any graphic gore. Done in a sleek black and white style, Dead has made readers plenty squeamish both with and without visual flourish – Tony Moore’s art set the standard with the original story arc, and Charlie Adlard has been doing a fantastic job since he took over (way back on issue 7). Often, we are more shocked at what the living are willing to do when societal conventions fall away than we are at the obvious behaviors of the undead. And Kirkman’s willingness to kill off any of the title characters if the tale veers that way has left many stunned jaws hanging open. This October, TV viewers will be invited into this world as well – AMC has picked up a six episode first season that will adapt Dead for the small screen.

2. Living Corpse (Zenescope Entertainment, 2007-present) – What happens when one of the ranks of the undead suddenly becomes self-aware and gets a rush of memories from his previous life? You get the hero of the book…duh! Searching for redemption while struggling with his need for human brains, The Corpse has become a gatekeeper for our world. He tries to keep out all the demons and beasties as they try to pass into our reality, and he may even hang out with Frankenstein’s monster now and again…not that he’s trying to name-drop or anything. Currently in talks to jump publishers, the title is still in full production on its big screen transformation – the Living Corpse movie is tentatively scheduled to release in October 2010 in 3D.

3. Zombie (Marvel MAX Comics, 2006-2007) – A revamp of the campy ‘70s B&W magazine Tales of the Zombie, the retelling presents title character Simon Garth as a bank robber with a conscience. Enter the military (complete with crazy scientist!) and some canisters of “experimental gas”, and I think we all know what happens next. This book sets up Garth’s transformation into a self-aware zombie with a penchant for saving people as he travels the world. Like the old Hulk TV show, but with more biting…

[photo]4. Victorian Undead (DC Comics/Wildstorm, 2009-present) – This utterly entertaining “Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies” story isn’t even finished yet (the final issue drops April 28th) and it’s in my top ten – which should tell you something. It turns out that even a plague of the undead can’t squelch the rivalry between Holmes and his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty. If poor Watson can keep from soiling his britches long enough, I think Holmes may just have the upper hand.

5. Jesus Hates Zombies (Alterna Comics, 2007-present) – The story starts out in the anthology volume Jesus Hates Zombies: Those Slack-Jawed Blues, giving a glimpse of why the Son of God would hate ANYTHING, let alone smash their skulls in with a blessed baseball bat. And with faith waning in this post-apocalyptic backdrop, Jesus was lucky to find a true believer…even if it comes in the unlikely guise of his zombie sidekick, Laz. The two continue to kick butt in the four- part sequel Jesus Hates Zombies, Lincoln Hates Werewolves: Yea, Though I Walk, in which they pick up more misfit sidekicks and gain an adversary of formerly angelic proportions…

6. Marvel Zombies (Marvel Comics, 2005-2006) – So, what if Spider-Man decided to gnaw on your brainpan instead of trying to save you? Who better to answer that question than Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman (who wrote the first 2 mini-series). In this universe, the zombie virus seems to target superheroes – and regular folks should probably learn to run really fast.

7. Zombie Tales (Boom! Studios, 2005-2009) – Following in the footsteps of such infamous horror anthologies as Tales From the Crypt and Creepy magazine, this collection of shorts began with a series of prestige format one-shots, and eventually morphed into a 12 issue series. The various issues boasted such industry giants as Keith Giffen (Lobo) and Steve Niles (30 Days of Night). And with zombies as the stars of every tale, how can you go wrong?

8. Zombie Highway (Digital Webbing/Bughouse Comics, 2003-2007) – Mouse, Kuji, Tag and Yeti are four unlikely traveling companions transporting a mysterious stolen package to a shady buyer. But when the dead begin to rise, somehow these jokers become mankind’s best hope. And zombies aren’t the only ones after them – there’s a creepy hitman (who just happens to look like he stepped out of a ‘50s sitcom) with his pregnant zombie wife, the lawmen they’ve pissed off along the way and a fairly innocent looking fellow…who happens to be able to mystically transform zombies into demonic “hunters”. The boys better watch their backs – especially if Yeti never finds a pair of pants. It would suck to face down the zompocalypse in your tighty whities…

9. ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worms (Dark Horse Comics, 1997) – Mike “Hellboy” Mignola wrote this retro EC comics style tale of a Hyperborean mummy (Azzul Gotha) determined to sacrifice mankind to ancient worm gods. Enter a heroic team of adventurers and scholars as they try to thwart his plot. But alas, Gotha’s zombie minions would be loosed on humanity only to return in future mini-series set in that universe. If you thought the creepiness and gore were absent from Worms, the follow-ups provided both in spades…

10. Living With Zombies (Goat Head Publishing and on the web at livingwithzombies.net, 2005-present) – Imagine a mashup of Clerks and Night of the Living Dead, and you’re pretty close to the plotline of this book. This supremely indie comic is the comedic story of two friends (and their faithful sidekick, Poop Dog) who had spent a lifetime watching zombie flicks and preparing for the inevitable undead uprising were proven right. Ahhh, the joys of finding your first abandoned chainsaw, and slicing through some revenant giblets… could there be anything more exhilarating? And, god help me, one of the book’s main duo is another character who enjoys battling undead hordes while not wearing pants. Is that two too many in one Top 10 list?

Frightful Discussion

  1. This should be in the top 10…

    http://www.uproarcomics.co.uk/shopping/

    Cracker Zombie series!!!

  2. Technically not zombies but infected I know..but 28 days later is an excellent series that rivals TWD imho. This 24-episode book has got it all..the apocalyptic feel..indept character development and a lot of surprises..great storyline and overall good to excellent artwork (different artists).
    Check it out..boom comics,u will NOT be disappointed!

  3. Nice list!

    Thank you for putting marvel zombies a bit at the back of the list, although i personally believe it shouldn’t even be on any list :D but enough about my frustrations

    check out zombies vs. robots, blackgas, ’68 or even crossed (yeah i know.. not exactly a zombie comic per se… but close enough for my taste and an awesome book!!)

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