Have you ever seen a horror movie with a dog in it, and from the beginning worried about that good boy’s safety? For avid doggo lovers like myself, that’s a powerful fear. Thankfully, that’s not the case in Oni Press‘s new horror-comedy DEAD OF WINTER — written by Kyle Starks and illustrated by Gabriel Bautista. DEAD OF WINTER takes place in a traditional post-zombocalypse setting. Civilization has fallen and small groups of humans survive by scrounging for resources and avoiding hordes of zombies. What makes this one special, however, is a VERY GOOD BOY named Sparky. The adorable cape-wearing golden retriever savagely (and effortlessly) kills zombies and protects his companions. If you’re a fan of zombie fiction, and really like dogs, check out DEAD OF WINTER #1 — on shelves August 2nd!

Surviving in the Zombie Apocalypse

The plot of DEAD OF WINTER #1 revolves around Gabriel Diaz — a former fireman intent on bringing as many survivors as possible to his community, despite the dwindling resources. His two companions are Ruckus Burely — the archetypal zombie hunting redneck — and Sparky! A dog who really hates zombies.

DEAD OF WINTER #1
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

As far as zombie fiction goes, DEAD OF WINTER takes place a while after the initial outbreak. The survivors know enough to keep surviving, but civilization is far from a resurgence. The lives of Gabriel, Ruckus, and Sparky essentially consists of making excursions for supplies, bringing back more survivors, and watching their resources thin out. After returning with a new family, the three of them decide to go to a police station with Carla and Annaleigh. The former police dispatcher and lawyer agree to help, and the five of them, including the most important member of all, Sparky, head out to scavenge.

READ: Wanna see zombies and winter in a completely different context? Here’s review of DARK SOULS: WINTER’S SPITE!

After a visit to the abandoned local pharmacy — in what’s the funniest scene of the issue — the group arrives at the station. Suddenly, a certain surprisingly dressed assailant attacks them, leaving the story at a concerning cliffhanger.

Sparky is a Good Boy in DEAD OF WINTER #1

While the setting and most of the characters are fairly generic, the comedy of certain scenes effectively carries the story. I personally love that in a bleak discussion about a survivor community’s dwindling resources, an adorable golden retriever rolls around nearby. It’s a good choice to focus on the dog in this series. Every zombie story needs something to differentiate it from THE WALKING DEAD and other mainstream zombie series. I can get behind a cute dog being that needed twist. The fact that he’s actually a superhero — in a flashback we see he was some kind of cross between Lassie and Krypto — makes the premise all the better.

Surprisingly, the comedic writing of DEAD OF WINTER doesn’t solely rely on Sparky. One of the best jokes in the issue is when the group scavenges the pharmacy. The two men thought the place had been picked clean of anything valuable, but it takes the two women to find the mother-lode just sitting in the open — a huge stack of tampons. That’s a strong goddamn joke. I don’t remember ever seeing tampons in a zombie survival story. I don’t think I’ve ever even thought about tampons as an important resource in the apocalypse but, obviously, they would be a huge deal. The idea that after years of scrounging, the only resource left untouched by the oblivious men was tampons.

Lots and Lots of Gray

The art in DEAD OF WINTER is its weakest aspect. It’s passable, but it doesn’t do much to stand out. The color palette is pretty bleak and gray, which makes sense given the premise, but it’s still over done. You can make zombies colorful and stylish, especially if it’s a comedy with a superhero dog. Admittedly. Gabriel Bautista’s illustrates the gore very well and Sparky always looks cute and, honestly, what else really matters?

READ: Like cute comics? Take a look at this analysis of KIM REAPER!

DEAD OF WINTER #1
Image courtesy of Oni Press.

DEAD OF WINTER #1 is a fun and compelling read for lovers of zombie stories and dogs. Not everyone enjoys zombies, but everyone loves dogs, so give it a try! Chances are you’ll like it.

DEAD OF WINTER #1 by Kyle Starks and Gabriel Bautista
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
An interesting take on the typical zombie formula. Sparky is a high point of the issue and the source of a lot of laughs.
78 %
ZOMBIE SURVIVAL BUT WITH DOGS
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