Land of The Rising Dead #1: Demons, Zombies, Ninjas, Teacup Pandas – This Comic is a Gem [Review]

Land of The Rising Dead #1: Demons, Zombies, Ninjas, Teacup Pandas – This Comic is a Gem [Review]

From writer Ben Laverock and artist Scott Dewey (7 Storm Collective) comes the independent Kickstarter funded first giant-sized issue of Land of The Rising Dead. The mega-sized comic is jampacked with demons, ninjas, a badass panda and takes place in feudal Japan during a zombie apocalypse.

Feudal Japan has been unified under the Tokugawa shogunate, and the era of the Warring States has finally come to an end. Yet there is little repose; a mysterious plague begins to creep across the land, awakening the sleeping dead and transforming the living into nightmarish fiends. In an effort to contain the outbreak, the Tokugawa shogunate has issued Sakoku, an edict isolating Japan from the rest of the world — no one can leave or enter Japan on penalty of death.

Follow the adventures of Tatsuo the masterless samurai, Moshi the martial arts monk, Ino the fugitive ninja, and Boo the teacup panda as they investigate the mysterious zombie plague, tracing its origins to the fall of the Koga and Iga ninja clans.

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Land of The Rising Dead was my first-ever venture into funding something on Kickstarter. I loved the concept and I love Scott Dewey’s beautiful style of art which really makes this bizarre and violent universe where Japan in the 1600s was overrun by zombies and demons pop. Writer Ben Laverock is obviously very educated when it comes to ancient Japanese culture and he did his homework. He’s no stranger to the area as he’s travelled there before so every word, every legend he spins in this book – all feel extremely legit. Just with you know – zombies and a horde of the ravenous undead for some much-needed flavour.

The first issue, or graphic novel as it turns out — because the guys hit their stretch goals on Kickstarter — is a gorgeous book to introduce this franchise to the world. The actual size (width/height) of the graphic novel is a tad smaller than your standard comic, but it’s loaded with story, incredible artwork and wicked pin-ups from guest artists like Nat Jones (who created a KILLER piece of work for this which I love and I’m a big fan of his). If you want to get your hands on this first book – contact the guys HERE. Or you know – head to Kapow! or Showcase Comics in Lethbridge, Alberta.

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Land of The Rising Dead starts off with a bit of history to get you settled into this dark and grim world that Laverock and Dewey have spawned. We find out the origins of this undead plague and we learn about how this fictional story blends with actual history to create a twisted alternate reality of feudal Japan. I was surprised to see a lot of focus on demons in this book. Are there zombies? Sure there are – but the demons steal the show here. Our three leads, Tatsuo, Moshi and Ino, along with her teacup panda Boo are all loveable and have their moments to shine. Especially Boo the panda – who manages to fire rockets and clash with the elder gruff Monk Moshi. I’m especially looking forward to their continuing adventures down the road.

If I had one gripe it would be that the two page spreads which give the reader a bunch of backstory on the historical setting, creatures and lore would have been best served being placed at the end of the issue in order to keep the main story faster paced and more streamlined. Laverock did a great job already coming up with a quick, action-packed debut and although this information is wonderful and absolutely necessary to dive into Land of The Rising Dead’s mythos, I didn’t want to stop the action to read it at those moments. I’m spoiled that way.

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Land of The Rising Dead is bursting with promise from a very talented young writer in Laverock and looks astounding thanks to Dewey’s beautiful artwork. There’s a sequence where our leads first encounter a zombie horde and a young undead child turns around to face them where I was legit disturbed – they nailed that moment perfectly. I’m furious at the cliffhanger because I don’t know when I’ll get issue #2, but I’m also happy as hell that I contributed to this wonderful book that turned out to be awesome as hell. Demons, zombies, ninjas, teacup pandas – Land of The Rising Dead is a gem.

Rating:

Read my interview with Ben Laverock HERE

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Editor-In-Chief of Fox Force Five News. I had a zombie cameo on the opening page of The Walking Dead issue #91, where I was killed with a machete... It was awesome.