Key of Z #1
Written by Claudio Sanchez, Chondra Echert
Art by Aaron Kuder
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Letters by Johnny Lowe
Covers by Nathan Fox, Tony Moore (Variant), Declan Shalvey (NYCC Exclusive Variant)
Evil Ink! Comics/BOOM! Studios
Release Date: October 19, 2011
Cover Price: $3.99
It’s always a little difficult for me to write a review on something where I feel a little emotionally attached. For those who haven’t been paying attention to this site, we’ve covered Key of Z pretty much since its inception when we interviewed both Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert at last year’s New York Comic-Con when it was still known as Subway Seriez up to this past month when we interviewed the writers again to revisit the series and see what else was coming up. They’ve always been super generous, kind, and open to me. So, that makes viewing the comic objectively extremely hard. It’s because of this, and the fact that Sanchez’s band Coheed and Cambria is my favorite band of all time, that I am extremely hard on their books when I read them. That said, I adored the team’s previous work Kill Audio and I love Key of Z #1.
It’s not exactly what I was expecting, and it’s not exactly want I thought I wanted out of the book, but that left me even more impressed with the material. The comic opens on a flashback that predates the zombie attack on New York City to give us a glimpse into the life that our hero Nick Ewing once had before it was all taken away from him. We then are welcomed into the current storyline where New York City has been sectioned off into what can best be described as gangs based out of different sports stadiums in New York City spanning from Citi Field in Queens, Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, and Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. Tension is brewing between these factions and we can only assume that we’re being lead into an all out gang war with a back drop of zombies. Did a forget to mention that? Yes, this is zombie comic, but it’s not about zombies in the slightest. This is a comic about what happens when a man loses everything that he ever loved, and how he reacts to that.
As I said previously, I absolutely loved the wacky and crazy atmosphere of Sanchez and Echert’s previous work Kill Audio, so I was surprised when a lot of the zany fun from that comic had almost left their writing style completely. This is a very serious comic that focuses on life moments in the midst of chaos. The majority of the book is a conversation between our hero and a young man who slaves away to serve the boss of Yankee Stadium, while using the post apocalyptic landscape of a zombie infested New York City as window dressing for the disparity of their lives. It’s a discussion of loss, love, hope, promise, and survival, but then takes a swift turn into revenge during the final pages. And the revenge aspect of this story is something that sets this series apart from other zombie comics. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but there is a clear cut tension that will drive this comic in later issues. And that’s just the writing.
Aaron Kuder‘s artwork on this book teamed alongside Charlie Kirchoff‘s colors are a match made in heaven. Kuder has the rare gift of being able to jump from clean, beautiful lines that show an expressive, emotional scene to a horribly grotesque attack from a zombie without missing a beat. His previous work on Sanchez’s The Amory Wars was also an excellent showing, but in this book, next to Kirchoff’s coloring, Kuder’s artwork shines. There’s a creative synergy going through this book on all levels from writing to letters that makes it it work on every level.
As I said, I’m very hard on these creators while I’m reading because I never want to be the kind of reviewer that blindly praises something just because I like previous outings or works in other mediums, or if the writers are nice to me, but in this case I just need to stop fighting it and accept the fact that these are damn good creators.