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Comic Review: The Returning #1
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The Returning #1 cover by Andrea MuttiThe Returning #1
Written by Jason Starr
Illustrated by Andrea Mutti
Colored by Vladimir Popov
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Frazier Irving
Boom! Studios
Release Date: March 12, 2014
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s no secret that modern readers still enjoy zombie tales. You know, mindless undead shambling around with their next meal their only priority? (The zombies, not the readers!) Jason Starr shakes up this well-established genre and steers it in a new direction with The Returning from Boom! Studios.

Instead of falling victim to a viral outbreak or the after effects of a passing comet, the undead of The Returning are everyday people who experience near death experiences (NDE) and are then resuscitated. This common occurrence somehow changes the person’s psyche and makes them prone to extreme acts of violence””they are then labeled as one of the Changed. Our protagonist, Beth, awakens from a coma following a car accident and finds that, even though she feels the same as before, her life is suddenly turned upside down because of the NDE she experienced.

First off, I found it pretty hard to sympathize with Beth. After her accident, I could maybe attribute some of her irritating behavior to the trauma and upheaval in her life, but sadly she was every bit as grating before it. She comes across right away as a whiny teenager who seems to only want to please her prom date, Mr. Popularity. Even though his crass behavior is what ultimately leads to the accident that causes her NDE, she goes right along with whatever he suggests. When things for Beth go from bad to worse, she (again) mindlessly goes along with the suggestions of a mystery man who may very well be a crazed killer. I can only hope that the development of her character in this series transforms her annoying personality into one that is worth pulling for.

The second thing that stood out to me like a sore thumb and made it hard to get into the story is the fact that, armed with the knowledge that people who are clinically dead and then resuscitated will come back as Changed, why is anyone in this story world still being revived at all? You’d think that would have been nipped in the bud as soon as the origin of all the crazy stab-you-in-the-face-and-then-eat-your-flesh people was identified, but alas.

I’ll be on the lookout for the next issue of The Returning and will give it another shot in hopes that Beth grows a backbone. This launch was worth the read simply to sample the different approach to the “zombie” genre, but I feel that overall it was not something I’d hurry to recommend to other horror fans.

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