Before I get into War of the Undead, I’d like to take a second and thank Spooky Sean for letting me take the reigns of his Sinful Bloggery for a bit. It’s quite the honor to be asked to write for someone else’s blog, and I do hope I don’t disappoint any of you. Now let’s disperse with the formalities and get into some Nazis and monsters!
War of the Undead is a 3 issue series published by IDW back in 2007, written by Bryan Johnson and drawn by Walt Flanagan. Those names will be familiar to fans of Kevin Smith’s work, as they’re mentioned regularly throughout his movies. They even appear in Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as Steve-Dave and Fanboy. Being a bit of a View Askew junkie myself, I admit to initially being interested in their first comic, Karney simply because it was being done by Steve-Dave and Fanboy. I had no idea what to expect, didn’t know if Johnson could write or if Flanagan had any real artistic ability at all, I just knew they were friends of Kevin Smith. I ended up enjoying Karney, and when their next project was solicited, I was sold based on the concept alone.
World War II era Germany, Berlin has fallen, der Fuhrer and Eva Braun have committed suicide, and the Allies are rapidly approaching. When news of Hitler’s demise is spread, a phone call is made instructing the beginning of Operation Black Sun, a top secret campaign to ensure the victory of the Reich and it’s eventual domination of the world. The plan is simple, control an army of the undead, revive fallen soldiers, create an unstoppable force of creatures, and resurrect Hitler to lead them to victory. All they need is an ancient amulet worn around the neck of the mummified Prince Zuka, the blood of a werewolf, a vessel for Hitler to inhabit, and the bones of the Prince of Darkness, Dracula.
They have most of the pieces in place, the amulet is in their possession, the mummy is under their control via the amulet, the werewolf is in captivity, Dracula’s bones lie in their coffin with a wooden stake still lodged in the rib cage, and hanging crucified on a cross is the vessel, Frankenstein’s monster. However they under-estimate the werewolf’s resiliency as he escapes, manages to free Frankenstein, remove the stake from Dracula’s chest, and the three of them band together against an army of Nazi zombies, thus bringing about the War of the Undead.
I have a serious love for anything Nazi related, especially when it comes to good old Nazi wartime experimentation. When I read the plot synopsis for War of the Undead, I knew I had to read it. Being that it’s only a 3 issue series, there is a LOT of story to get through in not a lot of time, and as such things feel a bit rushed. Still, that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of it. Bryan does a good job of covering as much detail as possible in the space that’s given, and Walt’s art almost overflows from the pages as he fills them all with lots of panels and not much in the way of splash pages. I understand IDW’s side of it, not knowing how a comic done by relatively unknown creators would sell, but at the same time I can’t help but feel like this story would’ve benefited from at least a fourth issue, and probably a fifth or sixth too.
Despite that minor nitpick, I have always highly recommended War of the Undead to any fan of horror comics. Great premise, solid story telling from Bryan Johnson, and while Walt Flanagan’s art is probably best described as an acquired taste, I dig it. There are plenty of places online to track down the single issues dirt cheap or all three collected in a single volume. As long as you think of this as the comic book equivalent of an over the top b-horror monster-fest, you won’t be disappointed.