When DC Comics wanted to re-imagine their iconic war comic protagonist Unknown Soldier for the New 52, they asked Batwing writing team Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and what they came up with was “…a man who is neither dead nor alive, who fights for his country again… and again… and again!” He also eats human flesh.
Star-Spangled War Stories reboots a title that had several incarnations, which started with the original in June/July 1970. G.I. Zombie marks the character’s second re-imaging after the previous 2008 series that was cancelled in 2010 because of dwindling readership. Last month the new series launched featuring Jared Kabe, aka G.I. Zombie, who is paired with another military type, Carmen King, a woman who’s done two tours of duty and also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the first issue, Jared and Carmen are sent on an undercover mission by their handler Abel Anderson — codename Gravedigger — to infiltrate a militia who are unhappy with the way America is going and are planning genocide with a chemical weapon called Black Ice, which can destroy towns and cities in a matter of hours.
What DC Comics was hoping for was a unique spin on Unknown Soldier, and Palmiotti and Gray certainly gave them that. However, just because you make it a zombie comic doesn’t mean it will have a high readership and loyal following. You need an interesting storyline, one that grabs you from the premier issue and makes you eager for the next. This is where Palmiotti and Gray have failed.
After reading the first issue, I can’t remember anything truly memorable about it, with exception that the main protagonist has the ability to reattach severed body parts. Unique as that might be, I did not find the introduction to Kabe and King interesting enough to want me to go out and buy the next issue. Graphically it is done in DC style and very well (pencils by Scott Hampton), but for the writing I expected more from Palmiotti, who excelled in comics like Deadpool, the Punisher, and Superboy.
The writers revealed that readers will get peeks of the pre-zombified Jared’s life as the story progresses, and at the half-year point, they want to show the events that led to his zombification. Perhaps, Palmiotti and Gray should have introduced Jared to us with some aspect of the aforementioned elements, allowing the reader to connect with the character and want to know more about him and how he became undead. As it stands with issue #1, G.I. Zombie is disappointing.