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  • Words: David Hine
  • Art: Roy Alan Martinez, Wayne Nichols
  • Colors: Kinsun Loh, Jerry Coo
  • Publisher: Radical Comics
  • Price: $4.99
  • Release Date: Mar 24, 2010

Based on a website dedicated to a fictional organization keeping America safe from vampires and zombies for over a century, FVZA (Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency) is a comic I would usually pass over if I noticed it on the shelves. I’ve never been a huge zombie fan but I have to admit I was interested to see how this property combined two popular horror archetypes that typically don’t share the same story space.

David Hine is a fine writer and does a great job bringing the comic’s central conflict to life, despite its reliance on retread concepts, such as the zombie virus. He achieves this through solid characterization and by looking past the conventions of the action-horror genre.

In the first few pages, Hine treats the audience to an unexpected glimmer of insight into his vampire queen’s motivations; foreshadowing the family drama truly at the heart of this book’s conflict. Her understanding that humans can be driven to desperate actions by love prepares the audience for the series’ climax. Even though the characters may seem to tread the familiar ground found in many action-horror films and video games, it’s a classic love story that propels them onward in FVZA.

However, where Hine excels in making the audience care about these characters— by providing emotional landmarks the audience can relate to—artists Roy Allen Martinez and Wayne Nichols fall short translating the necessary emotions to the page. Their storytelling, while serviceable for the most part, suffers from a noticeable lack of distinctive facial expressions, especially for the book’s human characters.

Martinez and Nichols are talented artists, there’s no question about that but their work doesn’t possess the emotional depth Hine’s characterizations demand. They give us some exceptionally crafted action sequences and a handful of truly exquisite panels depicting bloody dismemberment but at the end of the day, these are simply a collection of disjointed moments that rob the story of its emotional impact.

The final issue of a limited series should culminate in some form of emotional climax for the audience and the characters. Admittedly, I didn’t read the first two issues and may have robbed myself of the necessary emotional investment to truly appreciate this concluding chapter. However, I can’t help but feel that if this issue truly delivered, I’d be rushing to the store to discover how the FVZA and its director, Hugo Pecos, came to such a bittersweet end.

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