If you’ve ever read a zombie story and thought “I seriously wish there were more zombie wolves up in this,” then Rebel Blood might be for you. It’s billed as a different zombie book, and even though the story doesn’t live up to that yet, the creativity of the writing and the art alone is worth the price of the book.
There is an unknown plague taking over, and everything, both human and animal, is turning into a zombie. Chuck, the book’s hero, is a firefighter stationed in a landlocked lighthouse, and isn’t infected. This issue mostly deals with setting us up for the story through background information, but it also involves Chuck trying to get to his family before anything zombified does.
Alex Link’s script is disjointed. It goes through different points in Chuck’s past, while he’s having a conversation in captions in the present. I personally had to go back and reread that section a few times before I got the full idea of what was past and what was present. It’s a fair attempt to make the information-giving interesting, but the flashback technique doesn’t work as well here as it does in other books, and that’s more on Link than it is on the nature of the story.
Where the writing succeeds, though, is in the way Chuck is written. Link and Riley Rossmo have made him a genuinely interesting character. Once you get through the messy parts, Link’s script gives him a deep emotional background without getting weighed down by details. We don’t find out the minor details of his failed marriage, or exactly what happened with his career as a firefighter, but as it’s presented, we don’t need to. It’s a short four-issue series, and Link makes full use of the space he gets, even if it sometimes gets to the point of being confusing.
Along with the deep character, Link takes creative risks in the script itself, and it pays off. Crossing out words in speech bubbles, false realities, blending dream sequences with reality are all fair game here. They’re unconventional ways to tell the story, and they make the book stand out from the endless stream of zombie books, movies, and games that too often don’t stand out from each other in any meaningful way. Rebel Blood is a book that stands out in the writing itself more than the story at this point, which is enough to keep it one step ahead of the proverbial zombie pack.
Rossmo’s art reflects the daring creativity of Link’s script. Much like his work on Cowboy Ninja Viking, the art is a perfect mess. Rossmo blends thin, undefined lines, heavy blacks, colors that run over each other, crosshatching, and more to create a style that you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else. The art style matches up perfectly with the writing style, too, as both Rossmo and Link have respective unconventional styles that fit both each other and the story in general.
Even though Rossmo doesn’t do anything special with the layouts, the fairly simple layouts he does use are all that he needs, and here, keeping it simple works out for him. In keeping with mostly standard layouts, Rossmo gives himself room to be crazier and more creative in the art itself without the flow of the story getting interrupted, and without confusing us more than we already are from the story itself.
In its first issue, Rebel Blood doesn’t separate itself from other zombie stories in its plot, but through the actual writing and art, and for now, that’s enough. It remains to be seen if there’s enough story here to keep us interested once the novelty of how talented the creators are aesthetically wears off, but hints in this issue make it look like there will be. This issue is an introduction to not only the story, but to Link and Rossmo. They’re unique in their storytelling, and I’m definitely on board for the next issue. To be honest, I’m probably on board for the rest of the series already.