Before The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later and Resident Evil there was Night of the Living Dead, a horror film written and directed by a young George A. Romero. While low budget, the film was important as it shaped and essentially created most of the rules and the way we perceive the zombie genre today. The idea of flesh-eating and zombie plague was invented for the movie and have stuck around ever since. Romero went on to make a number of sequels which have had a similar cult status and would be used as the backdrop for social commentary. In 2014, he returns to the zombie genre in comics with Empire of the Dead, illustrated by Alex Maleev and published by Marvel Comics.
Empire of the Dead portrays the zombie outbreak and how it has affected New York City over the years. Manhattan has been quarantined, although many zombies still exist within the borders. Worse yet, it seems that the zombies are gaining some of their intelligence from their previous lives. This shake-up the formula that was developed by Romero decades ago, as well as give humans a challenge we haven’t seen in the zombie genre.
Another interesting twist is that Romero has given the zombies a rival. This comes in the form of the vampire, another parasitic horror. While Romero has not elaborated on the role of vampires it is believed that they will be an analogy for class. Vampires will represent the rich upper-class, while the zombie is represented as the lower classes of society. It will be interesting to see how far vampires will be explored and how much social commentary will be attached to them.
On art duties is the amazing Alex Maleev, best known for his run on Daredevil. Maleev is a perfect match for this title, having a style that portrays the grittiness and bleakness that is needed for the genre. As you will see in the preview below, his style incorporates plenty of textured shadows mixed with muted colours that set the tone for the series.
Overall, Empire of the Dead will be a 15-part series broken up into 3 five-part acts.
Empire of the Dead #1 is available in comic book stores and digitally from January 22nd.