Monday, July 16, 2012

FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency – review

Author: David Hine

Illustrators: Roy Allan Martinez & Wayne Nichols

First published: 2010 (trade paperback)

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Vampires and zombies are real.

In fact the undead have been with us since this country’s very first inception. These living nightmares are not the stuff of romanticized legend, but rather the result of viruses, black plagues that threaten all of mankind. This is why the FVZA (Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency) was created—to eradicate these creatures from the face of the earth. And by the late 20th Century it appeared that they had done just that… until now.

Brought out of retirement, Dr. Hugo Pecos is charged with stopping this contagion before it spreads nationwide, but with an underground vampire cell plotting a massive attack, will he be too late?

The review: The FVZA started life as a website and it has to be said that the website has been misinterpreted as reality by some… indeed the occasional contemporary reference books on vampire folklore have cited it.

The website created a pseudo-scientific background for vampires and zombies (and werewolves, who do not feature in the graphic novel) and so rich is the lore and backstory they created that a story based on it seemed not only obvious but logical. Eventually one would hope that a decent budget film would be created but until then we have the graphic novel.

And what a graphic novel, it follows former FVZA director Dr Hugo Pecos and his grandchildren, whom he raised, home schooled and trained. When a zombie outbreak occurs he is recalled and by then it becomes apparent that a vampire (or group of vampires) is behind the outbreak and that the virus has evolved making the current vaccines useless.

The vampires in this world are not sexy at all. They become emaciated, bald hunters with bloodshot eyes and, eventually, curved spines. They are long lived (as they do not suffer DNA damage due to age as a human would) are virtually blind in daylight and the sun’s rays burns (though it won’t kill) and they can live without a heart – their muscular system helps circulate the blood. Damage to the spine and brain are devastating, however.

At one point we see a human vassal of a vampire who must take a liquid regularly as he has been infected by the zombie virus (purposefully, by the vampire) and the liquid is a viral inhibitor that stops him turning. At another we see a human used for feeding, covered in leaches that the vampires drink from, so as not to infect their food source.

The story is strong and creates characters, complete with skeletons emerging from the closets, that makes the whole thing much more interesting and the artwork is sublime. Definitely one for the collection of any vampire or zombie fan and hopefully a springboard for many more stories in the future. 9 out of 10.

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