|By Zach Patterson||Sunday, 14 Feb 2010|
While this was released with relatively little fanfare late last year, Recorded Attacks is a pretty nifty addendum to Max Brooks’ zombie mythology established in The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. I’m rather surprised this didn’t end up being a bigger deal, since his books have been the toast of the nerd world since their releases, but regardless, if you want some more clever, believable takes on zombie outbreaks throughout history, this is definitely a good pickup.
Brooks works in the graphic novel/comic medium for the first time here, backed up by artist Ibraim Roberson to expand upon what was originally just a short addendum chapter on the Survival Guide novel. For being 130+ pages, it’s actually a pretty quick read, as I got through it in a little over an hour, but it jumps through various times in history and talks about recorded attacks by zombies based on the people who survived them. What I like about the book is that it has a certain degree of believability to it. Every story is presented a bit differently, and many touch on real societal issues from the past and present. Some stories are just a few pages based on facts from history and speculation on “what really happened”, others are much more detailed, as they are presented as covered up army documents that discuss using zombies as bioweapons that failed miserably or siege situations that went awry.
I enjoyed stories like the one from Egypt where they speculated that the brain might have been removed during mummification as a way to prevent the corpse from returning from the dead and the inventive way the Romans, vastly outnumbered, managed to funnel the zombies into a narrow passage surrounded by spikes and flames and were able to dispatch them with relative ease. The believability I mentioned before is accentuated by the fact that many of the stories aren’t happy endings, where the “heroes” end up getting killed or imprisoned. There’s a good story about black slaves banding together to save an entire island of St Lucia from an outbreak, only to be greeted by reinforcements that promptly killed many of the slaves and put them back into slavery after their heroics, claiming the entire incident was a “slave uprising” and made no mention of the outbreak of the undead. Similarly, there is a fantastic story about the French Foreign Legion who were trapped in an outpost in the desert by a rogue zombie swarm for 3 years before pulling off a clever tactical maneuver to trap the zombies inside of the outpost by luring them in and escaping over the walls. Their reward for it was being imprisoned and branded as deserters for going MIA for 3 years. They are stories that kinda make you mad, but add to the realism that Brooks strives for.
Brooks’ writing is backed up by some pretty gorgeous art as well by Roberson. He has a tremendous amount of detail and emotion in his characters, and draws believable environments that at times feel like an artist’s rendering of some actual event that happened. More importantly, the zombies are disgusting and terrifying, with rotting flesh sagging from the bones, and he presents them in many different forms and states of decay, adding to the believability. There’s also several large fight scenes that done very well and give a nice sense of scale when talking about how intense these outbreaks got. I think this could have been even better with it fulled colored, but the black and white is pretty great on its own too, and as a stylistic choice, I respect it and have no problem with it overall.
Taken as a whole, the book is a great quick read that will satisfy anyone who read Brooks’ first two books and wanted some more, or wanted some imagery to go along with his writing. I wish it actually could have been longer, and that some of the stories could have gone more in depth (some of the shorter ones were also the most intriguing). It’s also a bit pricey at $17, but you can find it for cheaper than that on Amazon and other places used. I’d recommend it if you have interest in either the subject matter or the author.