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I don’t read horror books. I don’t watch zombie movies. I get nightmares, I can’t sleep without three teddybears, and I have to turn every single light on in my house. Thanks to The Final Plague, I have two UglyDolls sitting next to my desk, and I put my dog outside, because I’m afraid he’s going to turn into a zombie and attack me at any minute.
The Final Plague is a zombie story, but not one that involves the walking human dead. Instead, the virus isn’t able to fully control an entire human body for long periods of time, but it has no problem with rats, cats, dogs, raccoons, or, as it turns out, lions.
The idea of animals getting infected is a far scarier prospect for me than human zombies (which I am terrified of). Rats, carriers of the black plague, can spread a disease far more quickly than a lumbering human corpse, and larger animals are better equipped with teeth and fangs to savagely attack people. Needless to say, I may never own a pet again.
In this particular issue, Arnold and Guaraldi-Brown build to a cure or an apocalypse. While scientists race towards understanding the virus, a local hospital comes under attack by a pack of dogs. Remember the dogs from Resident Evil 2? These dogs are scarier, and there are more of them. This leads to a troubling decision – leave the immobile hospital patients while the able-bodied run for their lives.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Miranda and Austin attempt to prevent the zoo animals from getting infected, or worse, getting loose. This becomes problematic when an infected member of their staff opens some doors in the big cat area. From this episode we learn a few things about tigers – they are easily fooled by humans, and infected lions are super-effective against them.
The fluid nature and the watercolor effect of the art blend well with the story, as you can see in the image to the right. The murky feel to the art adds to the overall tone of terror. For me, the only negative to this style came in the depiction of human faces. Some of the expressions seemed a bit off, and the lack of definition during the hospital scene led to some confusion of characters for me.
The final splash page asks “What do we do now?” and I’m eagerly anticipating the response Final Plague #5. Arnold’s slight twist on the zombie genre adds to the horror of the zombie mythos, the the art team fulfills his vision with alarming images. While it may not be flawless, it’s certainly a great zombie story for those of you (unlike me) who are into that sort of thing.