Writer | Artist: Stefano Raffaele
I have been sold a bill of goods. You see, two or three months ago I pre-ordered one of the European horror comics originally published by Humanoids, but being marketed to the U.S. by D.C.: Fragile.
I bought it because I was promised a zombie love story. Or a story that shows that, as the large text on the front of the book trumpets, “Love Never Dies.?
It turns out, though, that in the case of Stefano Raffaele’s Fragile, love never even starts. ?Cause if that comic is really a zombie romance comic, I’d be confused to see what Raffaele thinks of as a straight zombie comic.
OK, full disclosure time as usual: if you’ve been here from the early days, you know I don’t cotton much to zombie narratives (all nice, and complete true, things said about Sean Collins’ The Outbreak notwithstanding). I just don’t find them interesting or scary or anything other than formulaic and tired.
But! A zombie romance comic, I thought to myself, that sounds interesting. That sounds like a chance to bring a new element to the standard zombie story of a virus/plague, its incredibly fast metastasis, the collapse of civilization as we know it, etc. etc. This could be really new and really challenging, I thought.
Uh, no. Nothing of the sort.
Fragile is pretty much just a standard zombie story – except there’s a cure this time, oh, and a pretty, one-armed zombie supermodel.
The funny thing about this “zombie romance? is there’s no romance at all. Oh sure, the main character boy, whatever his name is (it’s escaped me already and I only finished the comic last night), and the main character supermodel girl keep telling us that they’re in love, but other than some moping about and the making of some google-y eyes, there’s surely no demonstration of love on the page.
To make matters worse, they seem to fall in love during the transition between two scenes.
There’s really not too much more to say about Fragile. The art is very, very nice and the story is textbook zombie/bog-standard adventure tale, and totally fails to deliver on the promise of there being an actual love story, rather than characters just taking about love. Even the comic’s interesting aspects – the transsexual character with the crush on the main character – get completely ignored in favor of things shooting each other and stuff eating other stuff’s brains.
If I sound cavalier, it’s because I feel cheated by this book. Maybe I ought to feel cheated by DC’s advertising department. I don’t know. But what I wanted was something that pushed the zombie story in a new direction (and does that ever happen? Is there ever more than one zombie story? Check out Dark, But Shining this week for further thoughts on this question) and all I got was more of the same. And when it comes to zombies – which have had more of a boom in recent years than anything other than perhaps Asian horror – do we honestly need any more of the same?