On an otherwise ordinary day, in a small town in rural Wisconsin, the dead come back to life. The town is sealed off from the outside world while the authorities investigate the phenomenon. Meanwhile, Officer Dana Cypress is trying to solve a murder, with the help of her civilian sister.
The dead in revival are not flesh-eating zombies, just people who, for the most part, want to resume their daily lives, but there is bound to be a lot of distrust from the other townsfolk until they can work out how and why they have returned. Revival is a compelling mystery, with moments of pure horror (the phrase "sharp little daisies" will likely stick in my mind forever). The characters are engaging and numerous subplots will draw you in and make you want to read more. The art is with art by Mike Norton, colouring by Mark Englert, is gorgeous, but it was the fantastic cover art by Jenny Frison that made me pick it up in the first place.
The series is written by award-winning writer Tim Seely (of Grayson, Transformers and Hack/Slash) and is published by Image Comics. It is a complete series, which has been collected into 8 volumes of trade paperbacks.
2. The Walking Dead
Sheriff Rick Grimes is shot in the line of duty. Sometime later he awakes from his coma to find that the world as he knew it was gone, and the dead walk the Earth. He manages to find his wife, son and best friend and they band together with a group of other survivors to live in a world full of zombies.
The Walking Dead is a very long-running, popular comic, now made more famous by the television show based on it. If you're a fan of the show but haven't read the comics, the story is different enough that there will still be plenty of surprises. It's a little bleak for my taste, but a great many readers seem to disagree with me. There is quite a bit of gore, but it's toned down a bit by the fact that, aside from the covers, all the art is in black and white. It's available in trade paperback as well as single issues, and as a bonus, if you lay the trade paperbacks next to each other, the covers all make one continuous picture.
3. American Gods
Shadow is coming towards the end of a prison sentence for aggravated assault. He keeps to himself and gets time off for good behaviour, and is ready to get back to his life, with his wife and a job waiting for him. Then the warden informs him that his wife has been killed in a car accident and he is released early for the funeral. Shadow meets a mysterious stranger on the plane, who calls himself Mr Wednesday and offers him a job if he wants it.
American Gods is based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, and is now also a TV show. Given Gaiman's background in comics (The Sandman series, Marvel 1602 and many others) it's a little surprising that it took so long for it to be adapted into a comic. This one is in full colour, with some panels looking like small watercolour paintings. It's not a horror story as such, but there are some definitely creepy moments. The story is fantastic and surreal, and makes you want to know what will happen next. It contains strong language and sex scenes.
4. I Survived the Zombie Apocalypse and All I Got Was this Podcast
Mara survived the zombie apocalypse, and now finds herself alone in her secure compound, tending to her garden and making a podcast about it, which she uploads in the hope that someone out there will hear it. One day she leaves the compound for supplies and makes an accidental discovery- apparently the zombies only eat men. Lonely Mara decides that since they're not going to kill her maybe they could be her friends. So I Survived the Zombie Apocalpyse... is more comic than frightening, and is really about an outcast trying to fit in. Some of the art is pretty cool, but in some panels Mara is unnecessarily sexualised, with gratuitous close-ups of her bum, and her constantly walking around showing her midriff, which seems pretty unwise if you were actually worried about being infected by a bite or scratch from the undead.
5. The Woods
One otherwise ordinary day in 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers and 24 additional staff from a high school in suburban Milwaukee abruptly disappear without a trace. The missing people find themselves somewhere in the wilderness beside a mysterious forest, not knowing how they got there or why. All they do know is that they definitely aren't safe.
The Woods is science fiction story about a group of teenagers dropped into an unfamiliar situation to cope as best they can. There is some gore in this one, with monsters that attack humans apparently indiscriminately. From the first issue, it's gripping and will make you wonder what is coming next.