Written by Matt Miner. Art by Sean Von Gorman. Published by Blackmask Studios.
The concept of the zombie has been done to death. That wasn’t an intentional pun, but it’s true. Zombies have become the new vampires and there has been so many interpretations that it’s hard to come up with a new twist. Although, writer Matt Miner and art Sean Von Gorman’s Toe Tag Riot has found a new angle – mixing it up with a punk rock attitude and LGBTQ positivity.
Toe Tag Riot is a 4 issue miniseries about a punk rock band who have been cursed to become zombies every time they perform. While they eventually revert to humans, every time they become zombies it takes a little longer. This becomes problematic when their zombie hunger begins to kick in. But instead of eating the closest people they can find, they target the people that spread the most hate in the world. Racists, homophobes, misogynists and even the Westboro Baptist Church are all targets.
With the aforementioned targets, it’s clear that there is a protest against a hate running throughout the issue. This is amplified with Toe Tag Riot’s LGBTQ positive attitudes, which so far are reflected through the interracial lesbian couple in the band. This is a pleasant inclusion, which feels natural in the context of the themes. Hopefully we will see this relationship develop further in subsequent issues.
Most of the issue is well paced and serves as a fitting introduction to the characters and concepts. Matt Miner uses a series of flashback sequences in order to show how the band formed, which works well but might have been a little too long. Although, during this time a series of jokes are set up with most of these hitting the mark so it doesn’t feel like wasted space.
Sean Von Gorman’s watercolours work great in Toe Tag Riot, giving it a grimy texture. This griminess works great in the context of both the punk rock attitude as well as the decay of the zombies. His character designs for the zombie punks are impressive, showing the reader zombies that are reminiscent of an Iron Maiden cover but each with their own unique take.
An interesting addition to Toe Tag Riot #1 is the inclusion of Fall Out Boy drummer Andrew Hurley. While he doesn’t have a large role in this issue, apparently he will appear throughout the series. His inclusion appears to be tied to the Kickstarter that funded the series, with the option of special variant cover featuring a zombified version the drummer.
Overall, Toe Tag Riot is a fresh take on the zombie concept which should be commended for its protest against hate and inclusion of LGBTQ-positivity. The grimy watercolours spur a punk rock attitude while also giving our zombie characters a deathly appearance. If you are someone who into the whole punk rock ethos or is looking for a title with a positive message then toe Tag Riot is for you.