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FVZA Comic Review - -

Story 9.0
Art 9.0
Value 6.0
Total 8.5
Publisher: Radical Publishing
Release Date: 30/06/2010
Reviewer: Troy Mayes



FVZA, or Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, is the vampire and zombie series, now available as a collected trade, from Radical Publishing. Vampires and zombies are popular material for comic book writers but I donít think theyíve ever been thrown together in such a way. 

David Hine is in charge of FVZAís story and itís a ripper, both literally and figuratively. Imagine a world where not only vampires but zombies threatened humanity. In FVZA humanity is faced with such a problem yet unlike most stories, where the existence of such creatures are kept secret, there is a long recorded history of vampires and zombies and the agency in charge of keeping them under control, the FVZA, is not totally black ops unknown organisation. Halloween was even made a public holiday as a way of showing that people arenít afraid of what goes bump in the night. The vampire and zombie problem was treated like a war that must be fought to the last and the world believed such an end was accomplished. As usual that sort of proclamation was premature and thatís where FVZA picks up the story.  

The comic feels like it has a huge scope as thereís that Ďfate of the worldí feeling behind everything that happens but itís largely grounded in a very personal story. Large parts of the comic revolve around Landra and Vidal and their grandfather Pecos. Pecos is a former FVZA director and was never fully convinced the vamps and zombies had gone, and you did get the sneaking suspicion that he knew more than he was letting on, so he made it his job to train his grandchildren so they would be prepared for their return. The return of the zombies sparks the re-creation of the FVZA and given Landra and Vidalís extensive training from their grandfather they are given senior positions.  

Hine has crafted a very interesting story that keeps you guessing the whole way through. A lot of things had this real ominous feeling behind them, stemming from the stories structure where events had already occurred and were being recounted. There were times when you knew something bad or big was going to happen but you were never sure when while the story has plenty of surprises either through some great structuring, which leaves the ending of a scene hanging or even flashing you images of whatís going to happen but holding back a few details like whose involved, or character design. The way Hine has also weaved in black-ops style action, fairytales, alternate history (WWII vampire/zombie style was an eye-opening and oddly plausible experience), a sort of mafia/terrorist element and traditional vampire and zombie stories into one coherent comic is brilliant. Nothing seems out of place or rushed and in the end you are left thinking one part of the story couldnít have worked without the other.  

The world Hine has created is a brilliant one. These vampires arenít like anything weíve ever seen. A lot of the glamour that has been associated with vampires has been taken away and the reality is a harsh one. Vampires donít feel, they arenít the pasty picture of youthful beauty and health; they are in capable of love and other emotions. While some display maternal instincts, along with certain zombies, for the most part they only care about feeding and taking shelter from the sun, which doesnít kill them but hurts like a bitch. The comic even points out that vampirism isnít all that itís cracked up to be and, through it being a virus, it is portrayed as a curse more than anything. Show this to a Twilight fan and theyíd probably die of shock. Bella certainly wouldnít be wanting Edwardís babies if he lived in the FVZA universe where his muscular body would be thin and bony and he would have bit her within five seconds instead of waxing lyrical about how much he loves her yet wants to eat her but canít.  

The artwork suits the dark, violent world of FVZA. The vampires are ghoulish and skin crawlingly creepy while the zombies are predictably disgusting with the skin just falling off of them. Thereís plenty of gore thatís augmented by some great action (think headshots and lots of them) and some beautifully disgusting feeding scenes with guts being ripped out and eaten. Still probably the most disturbing scenes were the ones where the zombies are dancing. Music is the only thing they recognize anymore and when played music they will attempt to dance. It was disturbing watching them dance as Martinez and Nichols have created some grotesque zombies, but also the imagery and Hineís dialogue combine to really make you feel sorry for the creatures who were trying to hold onto their last bit of humanity.  

The artwork was almost faultless. There was so much detail in every panel and so much use of a wide variety of colors ranging from bright to dark and even using black and white and looks that would mirror filters in film to give different scenes different meaning or a different feel. What was really cool was the splash pages, where one image takes up the whole page, were used sparingly. Many of the pages were crammed with panels to try and get as much detail in as possible so when you were presented with a splash page it had even more impact. Nearly all of my stand out pages were the splash pages, like the explosion at the end and the homeless man being feasted on by the vampires. I would actually hang them on my wall they looked that good. 

FVZA is one awesome comic. It brings together two widely popular subjects, vampires and zombies, to create an interesting an original story. The way Hine can take a global story and make it so individual is brilliant and by grounding it in the stories of a few individuals itís a far more powerful story. The art is top notch with some chilling, blood soaked pages that remind you of the classic vampire tales, where the thirst for blood was all that mattered. Shame it only comes with some concept art and an interview. 


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