Herkules Rockefeller's Zombie Hunter, reviewed by Matt Trepal
Out of the deepest, darkest shadowy recesses of the human mind they stumble, shambling horrors dressed in tattered clothing and dripping gobbets of rotting flesh. They are the embodiment of our ancient collective fears of the dark, of death, of what happens after. They are the dead who walk the earth. No, they aren't your in-laws, nor those little identically-dressed girls that try to sell you cookies. They aren't even Pauly Shore.
They are zombies.
Zombie Hunter, created by one "Herkules Rockefeller," tackles this issue head-on, presenting to us the town of Amberville, Louisiana, and its unusual problem. The year is 1937, and people from Amberville are disappearing with alarming regularity. Given the title of the strip and a glimpse of one such disappearance event, there is no surprise for the reader as to who (or what) the culprits are. The town fathers, though, are a little more reluctant to come to the same conclusion.
Enter Major Edward Hunter: war hero, big-game hunter, drunkard, and wastrel. The Major and his companions are contemptuous of the locals and their town, but are also broke. So they agree to take on the job of ridding the town of its infestation. They are skeptical at first, but their first expedition soon changes their attitudes. As the Major, his associate Dr. Rexworth, and the Majorâ€™s manservant Wang get into the spirit of the adventure, though, they soon decide that zombie hunting is a more-than-adequate career.
Zombie Hunter has its tongue firmly placed in its decaying cheek, even if it is not so evident in the first issue (according to the FAQ page, there are seven 22-page issues. As the story picks up, however, the humor becomes more evident, even as it remains understated. There are almost no jokes, as told by the characters, but a series of one-liners in outrageous situations. The situation in Amberville is a serious one, and everyone (the Major included) recognizes this. It is not a time for jokes.
The writing is generally strong, even if many of the characters are stock stereotypes: the craven mayor, the self-righteous minister, the cowardly sheriff, the Chinese manservant named "Wang." Even the Major and Dr. Rexworth are stock figures, in a two-fisted "Holmes-and-Watson" sort of way. But it is still early in the story (only Page 10 of Issue 2) and there remains plenty of time to develop these characters beyond their standard-issue forms. The zombies are almost straight out of an issue of Fangoria, complete with a taste for human brains (not an element of authentic traditional zombie lore), but quite suitable for the Majorâ€™s and the readersâ€™ purposes. And how much characterization is required for the mindless undead?
The Research page presents a whole host of information on the town of Amberville, Major Hunter, and the large ring the major wears, indicating that there is a great deal more to the story of Zombie Hunter than has yet been revealed.
The artwork is presented in full-color, full-page format, thoughtfully divided into multiple pieces for ease of downloading. "Rockefeller" shows an above-average command of human action, although some of his more extreme expressions come off looking too cartoonish for a situation the characters take so seriously, even taking the stripâ€™s humor into account. He draws a fine zombie, though, and that accounts for a great deal in this story.
Zombie Hunter shows promise as a horror-comedy strip. If the series continues as the first one and a half issues have begun, then it is worth following to the end. Grab your shovel, your elephant gun, and your faithful manservant, and head on over. Just keep close tabs on your brain.Â