In August 2014, Gilbert Deltres‘ successful Kickstarter campaign got the ball rolling for the first issue of Under The Flesh. In this book we encounter ‘Desolation Day’; an unknown pathogen which only affects males is unleashed upon Earth. Global military powers are wiped out. Governments crumble. Societies collapse. As the title suggests, this ‘virus’ transforms men-folk only, into rapaciously hungry zombies.
The tale, planned as a six-issue arc, centres on Ruben Lobos. He is a special forces operative who, as the world descends into bloody chaos, is injected with nano-bots, with the potential of making him a ‘super-soldier’. However, the tumultuous events depicted in #1, prevent Ruben from gaining any insights as to what he might now be capable of. We see him rush to save his partner Dinah and make efforts to become as secure as possible. As the opening chapter concludes, the couple have gained access to a secure library building, where a number of characters are hiding from the devastation. We encounter the Hellions, a biker gang who see the library as a potential haven and information source, and key female member Jewel, who is evidently on a journey of her own. Conflict develops between the library residents, in particular, emanating from Dinah, who seems to regard the other women as potential rivals. The consequences of this bring this issue to a close.
Under The Flesh #2, moves this tale along, with the tensions in the library still running high. Esther sees herself as a natural voice for the group and makes for an effective counterweight to the instincts and decision-making of alpha-male, Ruben Lobos. He intends to leave their relative haven and Esther simply does not agree. It risks his saftey and more importantly that of the group. She’s not afraid to stick a gun in his face to confirm her sincerity, which is always admirable.
Running parallel, this issue addresses the travails of Jewel, Hellions biker, who is going through great personal pain. She is evidently a woman of considerable emotional resilience and is not the kind of woman to be cowed into submission by a group. She’s certainly going her own way. In this instance this ultimately entails her being isolated in a field, bursting with ravenous zombies.
Within these pages, Deltres has assembled a broad range of characters with much potential, yet second issue in, it seems somewhat tricky to flesh-out these characters beyond the broadest and plainest of strokes. Much of the the exposition is delivered as narrative and it’s here that I think his writing is most confident. The dialogue however isn’t so self-assured. The phrasing doesn’t ring true to character and there just isn’t the definition to enable one to distinguish different voices
Anyway, back to the zombies! These zombies are thankfully, not the outsretched-armed, shuffling along at toddler-pace, types. Giles renders these creatures with a bristling energy and a savage capacity for swift, sanguinary abandon.
In fact, the artwork is really the high-point for me with this comic. Giles visualises a plausible world and then delights in taking it apart. There is no limit to the havoc that can be unleashed and within these pages are a bounty of images proving that very point. There’s a genuine harmony between his potent line-work and his spirited colouring, that really pays off.
Specifically in this issue, the imagery evloves from the wide vistas that ably illustrated a world eating itself. Jewel’s blood-spattered face as she thunders down the road is dramatic, yet it’s the sorrow in her eyes that really tells you something. The expression and emotion that’s portrayed in each character, certainly makes for fine storytelling and genuinely compensates for minor quibbles regarding dialogue.
Two issues in, there’s no doubt that this story, whilst gaining momentum, is getting more layered and engaging with each page. I’m already looking forward to the next installment and am more than happy to beat the drum for this enterprising venture, which you should take a proper look at, right here!
What do you make of Under the Flesh? Have you contributed to the Kickstarter yet? Let us know in the comments section below!