31-JAN-2012 A hot new comic for teens and adults by Robert E. Anderson combines the zombie craze with Anderson’s compassion for animal rights. Anderson proves that heroines don’t need to wear high heels and capes. His character Buttercup the Corgi is sweet and brave in this story.

Publisher: Big Dog Ink
Writer: Robert E. Anderson
Pencils: DaFu Yu
Colors: Kevin Volo
Lettering: E.T. Dollman
Editor: Paul Allor

Sometimes it’s hard to review a comic by a mentor. I want to be critical and point out where I think things have fallen short and I want to be fully supportive of something that deserves attention in our feeds of mainstream comics. I think I have managed a pretty fair inspection of RZH for new readers to small press comics. I hope you agree and pre-order REX when you see it in Previews catalog.

The artwork for animal anatomy isn’t as refined as a I’d like to see it. If I had to compare it to something like Marvel’s Pet Avengers (Dario Brizuela) which is still cartoony or even Guns of Shadow Valley (Dave Wachter) which is realistic, DaFu Yu’s style isn’t quite grasping real animals; yet, Yu’s zombies and women are exceptionally illustrated conveying expressions accurately reflecting the emotions of a panel. For example, the breeds of the dogs weren’t discernable. Brutus is a black pit bull but you’d never know if Anderson didn’t make sure to make it part of the main story. Zombies are clearly Yu’s specialty which is especially highlighted in one of the double-page spreads where little Corgi pup Buttercup uses her herding might to guide the enormous horde near an illegal zombie-pitbull fighting ring. The story might be named for Rex, but Buttercup stole the spotlight in issue one.

I couldn’t help but tweet, “Go, Buttercup! Go!” when I got to the climactic scene will this short but tenacious heroine.

There’s a nice use of sound effects. The coloring on certain textured areas like mason buildings and sidewalks is better than the animals which don’t have a furry feel; this feels like more of a fault in the penciling than the coloring. Flashbacks have smooth transitions to the past by merely changing to greyscale. Two-page spreads are not friendly formatting when reading on a screen the way they are with printed copies.

The highly intelligent critters are trying to get to Nevada from California but have to travel through the hordes of “rotters” or “biters” as zombies are called. Anderson brings up a key problem that has rarely been addressed. When zombies are roaming the streets, what happens to the animals? If an animal tries to fight and bites a “rotter” then after a couple hours, the animal is infected with the zombie virus. Anderson utilizes several silent panels to propel the fear and action in the style of Night of the Living Dead.

Within this plot, Anderson creates a twisted version of the pit bull fighting headlines we see in today’s real news. Here, the pit bulls are captured, caged, and forced to fight the zombies. Anderson has a knack for taking the controversial subjects involving different forms of animal abuse and testing and presenting them in tender ways with sensitive stories. His other work includes Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit and Great Zombies in History.

“This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell since at least 2008, because it combines three of my big passions: animals, zombies and comic books,” Anderson said.

The small press publisher Big Dog Ink is putting a lot behind this oversized first issue and offers it for only $3.50. It will be in February 2012 Previews catalog and is considered PG-13 rated for the theme and level of violence.

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