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A great action-adventure zombie story by comic book legend Gilbert Hernandez takes us into corporate corruption (and zombies).
There are plenty of comics about zombies out there, and there will inevitably be more, but there aren't many of them that are written and drawn by Gilbert Hernandez. The legendary Love & Rockets co-creator has struck out on his own a few times, and when he does, it's always worth a look. With Fatima: The Blood Spinners, "Beto" indulges some flights of fancy, as he's wont to do, with his take on the science fiction action adventure story.
In Fatima, the world is being overrun by zombies, but these zombies aren't undead, They're turned into mindless killing machines by a drug called spin. The title character words for an organization called Operations, an agency which is revealed in issue #2 to have started as a pharmaceutical company that was involved in the creation of spin. The way Hernandez weaves between flashback and current events is flawless, even a little playful. Although the narrative jumps around in time, it's easy to draw a straight line between events and their consequences.
Beto's artwork has always had an oddball charm to it. In Fatima, his panels don't have much depth, the body language is rather stiff, and his women are comically curvy, and in the artist's hands, all of that works perfectly to building a very specific atmosphere. It has that underground charm you'd expect from one half of Los Bros Hernandez, and the story is so dynamic that the the visuals turn out to be completely appropriate. It's a simplified visual approach, but that is not to say that the art is too simplistic. Hernandez puts a lot into the gory attacks of his zombie creatures, as well as into the dead bodies, and the story flows exceptionally well from panel-to-panel. The three-page sequence in which the history of spin is revealed is particularly strong, as well as the setpiece wherein a nightclub full of zombies gets nuked. He populates the world with human characters that are rendered with economical but well-placed lines and blocks of solid inked shapes.
The first issue of Fatima: The Blood Spinners sets up the world and the title character. She's basically a pro at hunting and killing zombies, to the point where it's become almost second nature to her. She's telling the story in the first person, but she's pretty elusive. Her thoughts and motivations are a bit impenetrable, as she's simply resigned herself to the fact that zombie-killing is her lot in life from here on out. Issue #2 is where the story really kicks off, and is also much more emotional. Fatima as a character is flashed out a lot more and interacts a lot more with her environment. She figures a lot more prominently in the overall story being presented, and she as a result, it's a lot easier to engage with the book. Not only that, but the second issue also ends on a great cliffhanger that opens up a whole new wealth of story possibilities. Fatima isn't the most complex narrative in comics right now, but it's created by Gilbert Hernandez, and the book carries all of the rougish charm one would expect from him.
Written or Contributed by Royal Nonesuch
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