This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on February 15, 2016.
The Walking Dead is currently the best selling creator owned comic in America. That’s no surprise considering the reputation it has developed both at Image Comics and on television. It’s an unprecedented success that has brought its creator Robert Kirkman to prominence and created one of the most successful entertainment franchises currently operating in the realm of pop culture. When you hear zombie today, it’s hard to not think of The Walking Dead.
But it’s hardly the only, or even the best, zombie comic to check out at your local shop. There are a lot of comics published in the past five years that explore the zombie sub-genre, either perfecting the formula of Romero’s early films or taking those concepts in brand new directions. The success of The Walking Dead has encouraged a lot of cheap knockoffs. Avoid those and check out these five fantastic original zombie comics we’ve assembled instead.
1. Afterlife with Archie
Published by Archie Comics
Created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla
If you could only read one zombie comic today, this is the one to pick. Despite consistent delays Afterlife with Archie delivers a package that is absolutely thrilling every time it comes out. While it may be set in the world of classic Archie Comics, this comic could not be any more unique. Together Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla have grafted the prototypical small, American town onto a classic Romero-style zombie story, resulting in a series that is shockingly original.
Everything from the Lovecraftian horror of Sabrina to homages to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining shows a reverence for the horror genre. Yet the creative team delivers it all in a fashion that could only be done in comics, making the Riverdale characters their own and really digging into the terror of confronting life and death scenarios. Each new issue continues to surprise with how personal and affecting the story becomes. Afterlife with Archie is a gorgeous, suspenseful comic book that will transform your daydreams into nightmares.
Published by Vertigo Comics
Created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred
You may already be familiar with iZombie as the television show that follows The Flash on Tuesday nights, but if that’s all you know it as then you’re missing out. The show is great, but the comic is an entirely different ballgame. Chris Roberson and Michael Allred never incorporated a procedural element into their Vertigo series, opting to take it in much, much stranger directions instead.
iZombie is a comic loaded with just about every sort of classic monster you can imagine (although you probably wouldn’t think of Were-Terriers) and a massive universe-ending conspiracy to tie it all together. Gwen and her friends are a delight to follow in both versions of the story, but Allred’s rich pop art is only available in the opening credits of the show. In the comic they bring each page to life, exuding an irresistible sense of fun and drawing the eye through each new oddity with delight. iZombie was and still is a truly unique comic delivered by a powerhouse creative team, one worth exploring no matter where it might be adapted.
Published by Image Comics
Created by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton
Speaking of television, if you’re digging Fargo but wish it had some undead characters, then you’ll definitely want to check out Revival. It’s set in the Northern Midwest as well, but takes place after recently dead members of a small town come back to life. These revivers won’t stay down either, no matter how monstrous their circumstances become.
It is equal parts crime story, conspiracy thriller, and twisted zombie spinoff with all of the excitement and gore those genres entail. Tim Seeley and Mike Norton make their story truly great with a rich, diverse cast of characters all holding onto a variety of secrets. As you slowly get to learn about the people affected by the revival, it becomes impossible to want to learn what it’s all about and why these undead have returned and why they aren’t entirely human.
4. The New Deadwardians
Published by Vertigo Comics
Created by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard
The New Deadwardians also comes with a socially conscious take on zombies, but one set in the stratified era of Victorian England. Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard have retrofitted London with both zombies and vampires to reveal the class system in place, where the former occupy the lowest rung of society and the latter occupy the highest.
The story is anything but a dry historical examination though, it embeds those ideas in a tumultuous murder mystery. That setup allows its leading man and readers to explore this alternative history, moving from the slums of London to palatial estates. Abnett and Culbard cultivate a complex world in this mini-series that will make you wish there was more. While the story wraps up perfectly here, there’s still room for the creators to possibly return some day for even more great, gorey tales.
5. The Goon
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Created by Eric Powell
Zombies may not be the primary focus of The Goon, but they are an undeniable part of its attraction and aesthetic. It’s the Zombie Priest who serves as Goon’s primary antagonist, summoning hordes of the creatures to try and take over the gangster’s town. They provide excellent cannon fodder for Goon and his allies to knock around between bigger badder monsters. There’s also Willie Nagel, the only intelligent zombie in town, who does his best to keep himself in Goon’s good graces.
Powell’s hyper-violent and hyper-funny cartooning just wouldn’t be the same without the undead shambling about the pages. He has created something truly special in The Goontelling stories that range from the absurd to the darkly potent. No matter where they go though, there’s always killing and dying to be done. Zombies serve as a perfect chorus for that variety of brutal storytelling, always ready to get up to be knocked right back down.
What are some of your favorite zombie comics? Share in the comments below.