With the runaway success of Walking Dead, the zombie idea has reached critical mass. To the point that attempting any new undead story has become a formidable task. Attempting this lofty goal is the new Image Comics series Rebel Blood, which fails simply because it’s trying to hard to succeed. Confused? Yeah, so was I, and so will you when trying to decode this absurdly vague and boring first book. I can’t even fall back on this being the first issue of the series because there is no excuse for this kind of work.
Something has poisoned the world and turned not only the people into mutated zombies but also animals. Every creature infected by the virus, great or small, becomes something out of a video game or horror film. I like that idea, the notion that all things could be turned into zombies. Imagine how bad it would be if survivors had to watch for animals as well as human walkers. I figured Rebel Blood would focus on one story, one character and build from there. For the first few pages that is exactly what happens, then writer Riley Rossmo decides that it’s time to get unnecessarily complicated in his storytelling and Rebel Blood falls apart.
The story such as it is, revolves around a firefighter, who is occupying a wooden watchtower area in the middle of the woods. Rebel Blood opens with this fireman character battling some demonic zombie wolves in the forest, then he’s on a rooftop falling but he’s also being fired from his job. I think we’re supposed to assume he slipped and that’s why he was fired, though why a fireman falling during a fire would be reason for termination is never made clear. Then we’re at his house and his wife is complaining that he isn’t helping support the family.
From there we’re back at the woods station and now there’s a blonde girl who wants to date the fireman we thought was married. Jump to him playing guitar, then a gunshot and then the first of three memories that constantly change, then maybe a flashback, or a flash forward, or a flashback or a….arrrghhhhh!! Rebel Blood is so incredibly muddled, convoluted and confounding that I could almost theorize Riley Rossmo and Alex Link wrote five different stories, ripped the pages out of them and then, blindfolded, started stapling them together. I have zero idea what this guys are trying to do here. The next few issues might straighten it all out but who cares? Making your opening issue the visual equivalent of a migraine is foolish no matter how good the series might get later.
The art from Rossmo doesn’t help matters. I’m guessing he was trying to make it weird or noir or horror-noir but it mostly looks rushed and unfinished. Somebody needs to inform Mr. Link that hurriedly slashing a bunch of lines together doesn’t make the work seem “edgy” or “dark." Rebel Blood is a travesty. Avoid it like you would avoid an oncoming herd of real zombies.
(The cover is cool)