Cold Dead War Volume 1 is a Heavy Metal Entertainment comic book series written by George C. Romero, penciled by German Ponce, inked by Gabriel Rearte, colored by Protobunker, and lettered by Saida Temofonte. The four-issue miniseries centers on Captain Lance Howard, a former pilot who flew bomber missions during World War II. However, one of these missions resulted in a horrifying secret: all of the men under Howard’s command died and were transformed into flesh-eating zombies after crash-landing on the island of Samui Shisha in Japan. The government recruits Howard and his undead crew to stop the work of infamous Nazi scientist Dr. Josef Mengele, who seeks to recreate the effects of Samui Shisha and usher in a Fourth Reich.
Romero is best known as the son of director George A. Romero, who revolutionized the horror genre with films including the Night of the Living Dead series. He’s also previously written for Heavy Metal with the horror series The Rise, which served as a rather effective prequel to Night of the Living Dead. With this series, he takes a few genres including zombies, war, & alternative history, and mashes them together to great effect. Howard’s rapport with his zombie crew is the driving force behind the series — he feeds them dead livestock from his farm in order to curb their never-ending hunger, and he is also the only person who can fully understand them. The zombies themselves act like WWII soldiers-they love their guns (especially one soldier named Monty, who carries a massive .50 cal heavy machine gun that he affectionately calls ‘Pearl’), and they hate Nazis!
The art is appropriately hellish thanks to Ponce and Rearte. Though they work on the side of the angels, Howard’s soldiers look like they walked out of your worst nightmare. Their ribs jut out from decaying flesh, their faces are fixed in ghoulish grins, and their skin has grown grey and mottled with the passing of time. Even their speech bubbles are grotesque and twisted thanks to Temofante’s letter work. And if you think that’s horrifying, just wait until you see Mengele’s own Nazi zombie warrior — it looks like an unholy fusion between Frankenstein and Nemesis from Resident Evil, with its speech bubbles displaying grunts and snarls instead of regular human speech. The issue also gets extremely gory: throats are ripped out, people are shredded into a fine red mist, and there are too many acts of bodily trauma to count. Thanks to Protobunker’s color art, this gore takes on a vivid life of its own, with red being the most vivid color as blood often splashes across the page.
Cold Dead War Volume 1 is a successful genre fusion experiment, putting a new spin on zombies by exploring an alternate version of history. If you enjoyed Army of the Dead or are looking for a fresh take in the pantheon of zombie tales, you’ll definitely want to pick up this comic. I also recommend reading The Rise as well; the younger Romero has definitely followed in his father’s footsteps when it comes to weaving tales about the undead.
Cold Dead War Volume 1 is currently available to purchase from Heavy Metal.
Cold War Volume 1
Cold Dead War Volume 1 is a successful genre fusion experiment, putting a new spin on zombies by exploring an alternate version of history. If you enjoyed Army of the Dead or are looking for a fresh take in the pantheon of zombie tales, you’ll definitely want to pick up this comic
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.