Over a year in the making, the fourth, final and double-length issue of the simply yet magnificently titled Vietnam Zombie Holocaust climaxes the series with a gun-blazing, blade-chopping, bomb-blasting, blood-spurting, fire-roaring, flesh-munching, eye-popping, limb-ripping, brain-gouging rampage of unrelenting carnage that makes the issue’s title of Hell On Earth as close to literal as you can get without tearing open a portal to the underworld.
The series’ various plotlines of jungle warfare, undead mayhem, mad science and government conspiracy all converge at Death Trap, an aptly named POW camp where the fates of everyone involved are decided. Although the length of the book might seem excessive, the extra pages are more than necessary to allow the story to be brought to a conclusion as satisfying as it is intense. It never for a moment feels like the comic is being padded out, and actually seems like an achievement that it manages to cram in so much action into the space that it does.
The lengthy and frenetic combat sequence jumps between various skirmishes, with even incidental characters feeling like indispensable inclusions with a fundamental part to play in how everything plays out, small pieces of character history serving to flesh out the various roles. There is even a fantastically ludicrous backstory for the Vietcong assassins Death Squad X, and it is strongly suggested that there are more of them out there than the three featured here. (Crossover title? We can only hope!) As is often the case with final blowouts of action-oriented sagas, named and featured characters begin to drop with alarming regularity (even more so than you’d expect from the war films the comic takes as its inspiration), and after a while you start to wonder if anyone will actually survive to the end.
As the series progressed it has constantly improved as numerous layers were added to the grindhouse schlock of its premise, while the cinematic scope of the artwork’s full-colour blaze allows for true realisation of the action’s visceral intensity, as the oppressive heat and suffocating humidity of the Southeast Asian jungle can practically be felt radiating from the pages.
Although a short series, Vietnam Zombie Holocaust makes a memorable impact, and even though it finishes on a definite conclusion, there is still the feeling that its world has other tales of horror madness lurking in the shadows, waiting for their chance to be told.
VIETNAM ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST #4 / AUTHOR: GEORGE LENNOX / ARTIST: JAMES DEVLIN / PUBLISHER: CULT EMPIRE COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW