Z Nation Vol.1: Sea of Death is the start of Dynamite Comic's prequel series to the Z Nation TV series. While its function is to set up the status quo for its series, it could have just as easily worked as a standalone story. The setup is simple. Johnson, a member of what remains of the US National Guard is tasked with searching a ship for desperately needed food substitute but finds that the current owner isn't willing to share.
The quality that makes this book stand out among other similar stories is how over the top the writers and artist are willing to get. Just about everything that could threaten a ship out to sea during a zombie apocalypse shows up here, and humans are not the only creature around to succumb to the zombie virus. The action is constantly moving, and the variety of obstacles for the main characters to face leads to some impressively drawn moments that would not be out of place in an old-school horror movie.
The characters are the sort of stock types that are commonplace in this genre. Johnson is strong, capable, and stern. He does his best to get the mission done, and early on he makes it clear that he will not let the villain's actions go unpunished. He is a suitable lead character, and he does a good job of keeping the plot moving. He may not offer anything new but he what he does bring to the comic is done well.
The villain is the star of the show in this comic. Like Johnson, he isn't new. He is an over the top (formerly) rich man who will happily sacrifice others to keep himself alive, or even just entertained. What makes him such a strong character to read is the lengths that he goes to in order to stay ahead. He starts off seeming like just a simple sea captain but then spends the rest of the book slowly revealing that he is what would happen if Lex Luthor was on a boat surrounded by zombies. As a villain, he falls squarely into the ‘love to hate’ category.
Z Nation Vol.1: Sea of Death is a faithful recreation of an eighties zombie movie in comic book form. It doesn't challenge the expectations of that premise, but it certainly lives up to them.
Z NATION VOL.1: SEA OF DEATH/ WRITERS: CRAIG ENGLER, FRED VAN LENTE/ ARTIST: EDU MENNA/ COLOURS: SAL ADIALA/ LETTERS: SIMON BOWLAND/ PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE COMICS/ RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW