Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes takes a look at Zombo: I’m A Good Boy Really by Al Ewing and Henry Flint and out now from Rebellion…
Zombo – I’m A Good Boy Really
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Henry Flint
Back from the dead again, but this time in digest format, comes Al Ewing and Henry Flint’s Zombo, 2000AD’s riotously gory and very droll sci-fi gross-out in which both the satire and the viscera arrive by the bucket load. These stories have been reprinted before, but it’s still a toss-up which of them is the furthest over-the-top: the one with an unfortunate collection of individuals stuck on a planet where every single piece of flora and fauna wants to kill them and a government-created zombie named Zombo comes to their aid, or the one about an infestation of the undead on a space-station witnessed by a group of slackers posting their own deaths onto a dismal version of YouTube, a scenario into which Zombo wanders. And both are relatively calm compared to where Ewing and Flint took their creation later anyway.
It’s also a strip where both writer and artist are flamboyantly enjoying themselves. Ewing’s story grabs big satirical handfuls of government callousness, mad science, shallow consumerism and a nihilistic youth more in love with death than life, while metaphors for environmental catastrophe hang over everything. These reprints are from 2009, but the writer’s treatment of his themes, about apparent monsters seeking purpose and death as the defining element of life, are still on his mind today in Marvel’s Immortal Hulk, another big green monstrous thing – the Zombo strip makes an appropriate companion piece.
Meanwhile Flint’s art pushes past gory and into something closer to autopsy, with characters drawn to look much like Russell Brand and Robbie Williams (and Brit scientist Colin Pillinger, perhaps less deservingly) turning up to be disembowelled. It’s unmistakably Flint art, although the deadpan facial expressions summon up the spirit of Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis-era JLA too, and some of the pointy heads, attached to their owners or otherwise, recall Shaky Kane and even Bill Sienkiewicz. Zombo himself, as green as any Marvel or DC swamp monster, also looks a lot like Ghoul from Malibu’s old Ultraverse, another animated corpse. All these different echoes and threads are blended at a hundred miles per hour, and the whole enterprise is as paranoid and blood-drenched as something dreamt up by film director Eli Roth after reading a few too many EC Comics; but Ewing and Flint are doing things here in comic form that splatter films can’t match and don’t usually care to try.