Advance Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Meets ‘Dungeons And Dragons’ In `Dead Kingdom’ #1
by Tom Smithyman
Stories about the zombie apocalypse have more than worn out their welcome, but this new limited series is trying to reinvent the genre by placing it in medieval times. This initial issue doesn’t offer much new, and the stylized artwork can be a bit rough at times.
The zombie apocalypse has invaded nearly every aspect of our culture, from video games to movies to television’s The Walking Dead and its umpteen spinoffs. We’ve had zombies in modern times, zombies in the Old West, zombies vs. cheerleaders and, of course, Plants vs Zombies.
The latest title from Red 5 Comics puts sets the hungry undead in medieval times. It makes the bubonic plague look positively cheery.
The premiere issue of the five-part limited series starts off with something resembling the eye of Sauron, which seems to be responsible for turning the dead into flesh eaters. A couple tries to escape the ghouls but ends up instead as a tasty treat. That devastation forces former soldier Kain – who has been traumatized from a mysterious past battle – to say goodbye to his lover and rejoin the king’s forces. When they discover the undead, the battle goes poorly
Series writer and artist Etienne Derepentigny has challenged himself with making a well-known antagonist seem fresh. He partially succeeds. The readers, not the Dark Ages soldiers fighting them, know that a couple of sword thrusts to the gut won’t stop the zombies. It will take future issues to unravel the mystery of where they originated from and how to stop them to possibly give the audience something new to experience.
Similarly, Derepentigny’s artwork is a mixed bag. There are times when panels look like they belong to a The Walking Dead prequel and others where things are so loose, they become a distraction. Largely, though, the stylized approach to the art works for the story Derepentigny is trying to tell.
The next issue or two will be crucial for this series, as Kain must warn the rest of the kingdom about the approach zombie horde. Again, it is a familiar story. If Derepentigny can find a new way to tell that tale, the series could bring something fresh to an all-too-familiar storyline.
Dead Kingdom #1 will be available for purchase on Sept 28, 2022.