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28 Days Later: London Calling - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt www.femlitica.com jennifermuirhead.wordpress.com/
Published March 17th 2013


Danny Boyle's 2002 film 28 Days Later gave a new twist to the zombie sub genre- fast moving zombies. Arguably not zombies at all, the Infected have contracted the Rage Virus, which transforms them into killers who will attack anyone around them. The film is set in England where the virus originated from and chronicles the journey of three survivors, Jim, Selena and Hannah, to try and escape from the Infected and find some way to lead a normal life again. Their story continues in this series of graphic novels. This series gives some of the missing pieces of Selena's back story and explains where she is while the story of the sequel, 28 Weeks Later (2007) is taking place. If you haven't seen the two films be warned that the books and this review will contain spoilers.

The first trade paperback volume, London Calling, collects the first four issues of the comic. It opens with Selena living in a refugee camp in Norway, haunted by the horrors she saw back in England. Selena is approached by Clint, an American journalist who wants to travel into the Infected territory and bring the story of what is happening there to the world. He asks Selena to accompany him as his guide and she reluctantly agrees to go back to the country she fought so hard to escape.

Clint's plan is terrible from the start. He and his crew are war correspondents so they are used to being in dangerous situations but all their experience does not prepare them for meeting the Infected. They are used to human antagonists who fight in an organised, logical way, not creatures who operate solely on instinct and have no care for their own survival. They don't even think to pick Serena's brain before leaving about what kind of supplies they should take with them, so none of them are equipped with protective clothing, gas masks or goggles to keep infected blood out of their faces and weapons as reliable as her machete, which never needs reloading. Their naiveté forces Serena to reprise her character defining machete scene from the movie quite early in the book.



As with the movie, much of the danger Selena and Clint face comes not from the Infected but from other uninfected people with their own agendas. With their boat destroyed by an explosion, along with most of their equipment the surviving members of the team are forced to try and make their way out of Scotland as best they can in stolen vehicles or on foot while trying to stay clear of the army.

It was good to catch up with Selena as if she was an old friend. On the one hand I wanted her story to end with a happily ever after, but on the other hand it was enjoyable to see her heading back into danger again. I was relieved that young Hannah wasn't dragged back into things with her though. Selena has been irrevocably changed from the ordinary chemist she was before the Infection happened. She blames herself for the deaths of many people and often finds herself torn between survival and trying to hang on to what's left of her humanity. It's impressive the way she has rolled with the punches and become the tough individual she is, but at the same time it's sad that she has had to do it.

The art features a lot of shadows and dark colours, as befits the subject matter. There is quite a lot of gore, and the storyline is dark and often depressing, so these are definitely comics for adults, not children. I recommend it for fans of the movie or of other horror comics like The Walking Dead.

Rated: 8/10
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