Viral Outbreak Devastates A World Gone Mad: Reviewing ‘Rabid World’ #1

by Brendan M. Allen

‘It was like any other morning, until it wasn’t. Growing from the rural areas, it was a simple dog bite, but at the end of the day civilization was collapsing. The outbreak left people rabid, devoid of their humanity, left only with a violent rage.

When an outbreak of a rabies-like virus devastates the world, it’s a fight for survival in a world gone mad. Two couples set off on disparate courses, one for survival and one to save the world. Will a vaccine be found? Will the survivors make it to a safe place to hole up?’

There are a few things that all zombie stories have in common. An event, biological or magical, leaves its victims mobile, but technically dead, in a state of progressive decay. They can’t communicate. Devoid of emotion. Violent toward unaffected humans. Usually, slow and dumb, but not necessarily. Unaffected by grievous injury… Most importantly, though, contagious. 

In Rabid World #1, the world-altering event is rabies, sort of. Super rabies. Todd Cinani introduces two couples, biologists Frank and Anne, and their Joe Lunchbucket friends Kerry and Mike. The way this thing sets up initially, it looks like Frank and Anne will be doing the heavy lifting on the science and medical drama, while Kerry and Mike will be the ones scrambling on the ground, trying to keep themselves upright and breathing.  

Cinani spends a lot of time shaping the main characters and giving us reasons to get behind them, but let’s talk about patient zero for a second.  The guy only sticks around for about five pages. In those five pages, you really get a sense of who the guy is.

His dog’s sick. His first concern is his crops. After he calls the local Department of Natural Resources officer to report the illegal pesticide he suspects in the poisoning, he delicately loads Buster into the truck and heads off to the vet. The dude loves his doggo.

There’s so much character depth and development in these five pages, so much care put into this one throwaway character. It’s a great selling point for what’s to come down the line. The zombie stuff isn’t terribly original, but the characters are fantastic.

The art is really effective. Oleg Okunev has a very realistic style that’s easily relatable. Little details that are so important. Going back to patient zero, in the man’s living room you can see weeks-old  newspapers laying around. Empty bottles here and there. Through the doorway, there are dishes piled up on the kitchen counter. A bag of Happy Dog (Ole Roy) dog food on the floor right next to his pup’s food bowl. When he takes off in his truck, the painted “F” is worn off the tailgate of his old beater Ford.

Tiny things, but each one adds up to a very complete and accessible picture. 

The colors start off not quite black and white, more of a brown scale, but with very little color other than a few splashes here and there of an accent. A blue truck, brown goo, a glow off a computer screen. As the story progresses, more colors are introduced to highlight different set pieces and certain characters’ wardrobe. Things get more and more colored until the final pages, where everything is washed in dark blues with splashes of red. I’m not sure what it all means, but it’s visually very interesting. 

There is one thing I’m not so keen on. I’m never a huge fan of floating head narration. It’s actually one of my pet peeves. Especially in a book like this that uses color so effectively. There are several places where a conversation is started and the speaker goes off panel, or one side of the conversation is coming through the earpiece of a cell phone, and the unseen speaker’s dialogue balloons are colored differently than the speakers in panel.

This exact same device would have worked beautifully in those few cases where Okunev pulled out the floaters. It’s an odd choice in an otherwise beautiful book.

Rabid World #1 builds slowly through the first half or so, and then picks up a pretty steady clip to finish on a tense note. This is a decent opening chapter that leans hard into several popular zombie tropes, without blatantly lifting from other properties. That’s actually really hard to do with all the zombie comics, shows, and movies that are currently on the market. Props on that end, but the next issue is really going to be the make it or break it installment. 

Rabid World #1, Scout Comics, 24 March 2021. Written by Todd Cinani, art by Oleg Okunev, letters by Lucas Gattoni.

Summary

The art is honestly the strongest part of Rabid World so far, and it’s what will bring me back next month. There are those floating heads, but there are enough good points, those are almost forgiven. Almost.

Overall
7/10
7/10

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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