Review: Retrovirus / Author: Jimmy Palmiotti / Artist: Norberto Hernandez / Publisher: Image Comics / Release Date: Out Now
Retrovirus is, in theory, a horror adventure comic book. The plot is pretty straightforward: a scientist who specialises in rare viruses goes to a remote Antarctic facility to study some deep-frozen prehistoric bacteria. Predictably, all hell breaks loose. The tale has the feel of a failed movie script about it; just as you think things are about to take an interesting turn, it goes the predictable route instead.
The book is riddled with clichés, and is unashamedly middle-of-the-road in its storytelling. We have the strong female lead who’s only personality trait seems to be that she’s a strong female lead; a stereotypical tech nerd; a vile old billionaire who is motivated by greed and self interest; predatory corporate executives and so on. It is sort of charming in its mundane approach to action horror, but also instantly forgettable. Retrovirus was funded via a successful Kickstarter campaign, and it seems likely that the creators have played it safe in order to appeal to as many sponsors as possible. Given that it’s also solely owned by the creators, this feels more like a self-marketing exercise than anything else.
Still, it’s sort of refreshing to see a story about science gone wrong in an isolated place that doesn’t feature zombies as its main antagonist. No, Retrovirus goes for something far older and much sillier instead. But alas, even these monsters are not arresting enough to stop the book from being dull. The art is solid and workmanlike, but does nothing to inspire the reader in any way. Basically, this book is a bit of a waste of time, but if you’re looking for dumb fun and don’t demand much from your reading, then it may be worth a go.