‘Train 8: The Zombie Express’ - Comic Book Review
Written by Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief
Zombies are no stranger to the horror genre, having slowly (or quickly - depending on your zombie mobility preference) crept into the pop culture zeitgeist over the past fifty years. From Night of the Living Dead to iZombie, re-animated corpses have not only come to pervade the horror genre, but they have paved their way into various other genres and mediums of entertainment. Given the ever-present nature of the zombie tale, it takes a truly special story to stand out from the ambling crowd, and Bliss on Tap Publishing's Train 8: The Zombie Express does just that.
Train 8 is a three-issue comic book series written by David Stephan and Marysol Levant and illustrated by Alex Cormack. The series takes place on Train 8, the famous Seattle to Chicago rail line, and sets the stage for an unfortunate virus outbreak that quickly infects the passengers and staff on board. While this may seem like a familiar series of events for a zombie tale, the train itself is as much an unwitting passenger on a tragic path as are its inhabitants, speeding ever so quickly towards impending doom and bringing a subtle increase in intensity to the pacing of the story.
Writers Stephan and Levant waste no time in getting to the action within their inaugural issue, quickly and efficiently depicting the cause of the zombie outbreak in a medical research lab and then accelerating the story by transporting the audience to the titular train. The reader receives a brief glimpse at the passengers on board but is, perhaps, spared from connecting with them individually, as many on board quickly succumb to the bloody outbreak. The series' description notes that "the surviving passengers are then left with the moral dilemma of stopping the train to save themselves but also letting the outbreak infect the world or being heroes by keeping the train rolling and suffering the consequences." While the first issue of Train 8 does not delve into the moral quandary in which the passengers find themselves, given the short run of the series, the next issue will likely waste no time in examining the hard choices that befall the riders, making for a more cerebral and fascinating approach to zombie fiction.
Artist Alex Cormack's realistic approach to portraying the passengers of Train 8 makes the issue truly take form, and it serves as a perfect storyboard for the forthcoming feature film that is based on the series. (The lead scientist has a striking resemblance to Tom Skerritt!) The most remarkable illustrative standout from the issue, though, is the coloring by both Cormack and Ashley Cormack. A muted color palette eases the reader into the storm, yet a moodier tone seeps in as the story reaches the train, crescendoing into bursts of deep red with each zombie attack.
If you are a fan of the horror genre or - more particularly - of zombies, Train 8 #1 sets the stage for a unique and intriguing tale that is sure to delight. I cannot wait to pick up Issue #2 and dive deep into the uncertainty of the passengers of Train 8.
Creative Team: David Stephan (writer), Marysol Levant (writer), Brian Phillipson (additional writing), Alex Cormack (artist/colorist), Ashley Cormack (colorist), Alex Murillo (letterer)
Publisher: Bliss on Tap Publishing
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