Publishers of all sorts are creating material based on board games all the time these days, but you don’t often see it done with obscure tabletop games. Dead of Winter is obscure, at least for me, but this zombie themed game now has a comic from Oni Press. Given it’s written by the hilarious Kyle Starks I’d wager it’ll be a fun ride no matter what.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
From the tabletop smash hit comes this new series starring beloved characters from Plaid Hat Games’ Dead of Winter, written by Kyle Starks (Sexcastle), and illustrated by GABO (The Life After). In the pantheon of heroes, none are more lovable and loyal than everyone’s beloved good ol’ dog, Sparky. Surviving in the wintery apocalypse of the undead, this former TV star turned zombie killing machine just wants to make friends and be a good boy. As his fellow survivors scavenge for supplies in the frigid wasteland, will Sparky be able to protect his companions from threats both undead and not yet undead?
Why does this matter?
A super dog eating zombie limbs like it’s his lunch? Sign me up! The concept is your standard zombie apocalypse with strangers trying to survive, only a dog from a hit TV show joins them and he really doesn’t like zombies. It’s just random enough to make this zombie story seem fresh.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Who’s a good boy!?
I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think this dog is part of the original game. The game is your standard zombie adventure with power ups being shotguns and survival being key. This issue opens, however, with a group of people stuck inside as zombies attempt to break in. A dog wearing a red cape appears and it has a note to escape right away. From there Starks has these people join up with some scavengers who have shelter, but their supplies are running thin (aren’t they always?). The dog gets an origin story of sorts in a single page which details that while he may not be superpowered, he’s certainly super.
The plotting of this issue certainly seems like a board game as things switch and change rather quickly. By the end, you’ll be surprised just how many twists there were, which keeps the reader on their toes. Starks does a good job supplying a strong voice to the white trash character (who has a filthy mouth) and the innocent but strong lead.
The art by Gabo has a comic strip look that’s simple when it comes to faces but detailed when it comes to gore. The dog definitely adds a nice touch of humor throughout the issue reminding the reader even during a zombie uprising dogs will stay positive. There’s also a fun transition between a well in the past surrounded by green grass and later a well filled with…well I’ll let you find out what.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The narrative doesn’t seem to find its purpose in this first issue as it sort of meanders between characters and setting up a plot we’ve seen a thousand times before. The middle of the book lags too, which kills the momentum after meeting the main characters in the beginning. Instead of supplying a hook it appears to be just telling a regular zombie story with characters trying to survive, but with a dog wearing a cape thrown in too. I was seriously scratching my head as far as why they’re making this. It’s not a bad comic by any means, but it has yet to define how it sets itself apart from other zombie stories.
Is it good?
Count me in for this series, but color me cautious too. This first issue establishes the characters and its sense of humor well, but it hasn’t yet established its uniqueness from any other zombie adventurer.
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