Posts Tagged ‘Zombies’

Fear-the-Walking-Dead

Anyone who has followed my blog at all knows I am a fan of the Zombie Apocalypse genre. AMC has just launched a companion  series The Walking Dead titled Fear the Walking Dead(FTWD). The series was created by Robert Kirkman, who created the comic book series that kicked off the franchise.
FTWD  moves the  timeline back to the beginning of the catastrophe when Rick Grimes is in a coma and moves the action to Los Angeles, California. The main characters are a blended family  consisting of a high school English  teacher and guidance  counselor and their children  from  previous  relationships.
The focus initially is on the everyday concerns of a blended family, with an undercurrent  of dread and tension as the evidence of what is to come slowly builds.
For all of the slow burn the cold open stats with Nick the oldest of the teen-aged character, and a drug addict  discovering a friend, now a zombie chowing down on another person in the shooting gallery. Fleeing in terror Nick runs straight into a car.
From this point we see a world where slowly the threads that hold society together start to fray. The narrative examines or at least teases all be it briefly some of these threads. Trust in the government  and mass media are looked at as the crisis builds with no indication given from those whose  duty it is to keep us safe, with information dribbling out via social media posts and videos posted online. Especially timely is the commentary on police violence as protests erupt after the police shoot a homeless man 50 times (presumably he was a walker). As the protest turns into a riot as police take down another zombie and riot police enter the area, and the pot that is the protest boils over, the perfect setting for a slowly growing zombie menace to go unnoticed.
So far the shows biggest strength is the ability to create that undercurrent of impending doom. The scoring of the show by Paul Haslinger helps convey that feeling better than just about anything, giving cues at just the right time to build tension better than any of the visual cues.
I’m looking forward to seeing the final unraveling  as the series approaches the  season finale and as the military comes into play. Will they be a bigger threat than the undead to the protagonists? Or will the military is evil trope as seen in DAY OF THE DEAD be sustained or be subverted? We have already seen some police acting less than  honorably  stockpiling water in their squad car. Will the army/national guard be any better?
I do have a couple of issues one minor the other more serious. The less serious is the one thing that I’ve  noticed that spoils the illusion   that Vancouver is Los Angeles, the acknowledge of palm trees. Having been to LA a few times, palm trees are every where, they are almost ubiquitous in the Southern California landscape.
My second issue, and one mentioned across all media is the fact that almost all the deaths of characters with actual lines have been African American characters. Intentional or not, it is very noticeable, and troubling.

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Earlier this summer, I picked up a copy of Dead of Winter after playing it at a friends house. It is one of the best horror or zombie apocalypse games around.

The story of the game is that you control a number of survivors at a sanctuary from the hungry dead. You are trying to survive the winter that has set in, complete story and personal goals, as well as keep the people in your colony, healthy and fed. There is also a chance someone is a traitor who has a personal goal that is cross purposes with the group as a whole.

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Turn by turn players forage for supplies, shore up defenses and try to avoid being ate by zombies, getting frostbite or just getting injured in the environment by using their survivors’ special talents

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This is accomplished via a dice pool determined by the number of survivors controlled by the player at any given time. These dice are compared to a survivor’s skill and applied to an action.

Fighting or moving between locations an exposure die is used and it determines injury, frostbite, death by zombie attack, or making it out unscathed.

Adding to the fun are the crossroads cards that toss in randomness into every turn and could bring in good or bad fortune.

The game does an amazing job of simulating the best parts of zombie apocalypse stories. There is palpable tension that builds and builds until the final turn. It gets in your head a lot more than a game like Zombicide or Last Night On Earth. While fun, they don’t bring the drama or real feelings of dread that Dead of Winter does.

If you like the zombie apocalypse genre, or co-op games with a traitor mechanic it is well worth the price.

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wpid-20150808_123909.jpgIn 2013 I made my first visit to Los Angeles, It was a good trip for many reasons,  My first trip to Disneyland, lots of amazing vegan eats, and on a trip to Vroman’s bookstore I stumbled on my new favorite series: Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Ex-Heroes is a Zombie and Superheroes mash-up set in the ruins of Los Angeles. Unlike other Zombie Supers mash ups (I’m looking at you Marvel Zombies) this is amazing and fun from beginning to end. At the moment there are four books out, with the fifth due out early in 2016.

The zombies in universe are referred to as Exes, or Ex-humans, and they are legion by the present of the books. The Exs are Romero type shamblers, but they are not moaners, their teeth chatter and clack in a cacophony of terror.

The heroes are not globe trotters, or world shakers, they are city level heroes.  Think Batman Year One, Daredevil, Spiderman and the like. Most of them fit a classic super hero archetype. Stealth is The Cowl, St George The Cape, Zzzap who is a bit like and electric Human Torch that goes to eleven.

wpid-img_20150808_123823.jpgThe Chapters are divided into THEN and NOW. I really enjoyed this set-up allowing for a good deal of world building, origin stories and how the heroes were un able to stop the undead plague despite their best efforts, as well as telling the story of the present pickle, usually with something in the past informing the current situation.

The books tread into areas familiar to readers of Powers, and a few other comics that address the effects on ordinary people in a world of super beings. How do you cope when you fear your protectors can up and leave, or inadvertently destroy your infrastructure in a super powered fist fight. Clines plays with conventions, and tropes of both superhero and zombie genres involved, making the story feel very fresh.

Don’t let those bigger questions fool you the books are fast paced, and Clines write’s superhero fights better than anyone. All while conveying a definite sense of place, the land scape of LA to me felt like a character unto itself, to the point I knew where I was when traveling around LA from remembering passages in the text.

So any way, you know you love superheroes, and you know you love zombies, why note dive in!

The books:

Ex-Heroes

Ex-Patiots

Ex-Communication

Ex-Purgatory

And coming soon…

Ex-Isle