Author Jeff McComsey brings a new installment to the FUBAR series with a few interesting tales to bring to the table, but others? Not so much.
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Jeff McComsey brings you a new installment to his New York Times best-selling series FUBAR. ALL STAR FUBAR follows a similar story structure as its predecessors: zombies, history, plenty of beheadings, and gore. For those new to the FUBAR series (like me), McComsey takes several historical moments and reimagines them with zombies.

In previous stories, he has added undead involvement to the Civil War, Greek/Roman war, Asian history, and many other eras. You get mass zombie armies and zombified historical figures. This time around, McComsey gives you Mexican history, zombies in Nazi Germany, the undead creeping along the Titanic. Heck, ALL STAR FUBAR even has rock n’ roll legend Elvis Presley taking on zombies.

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Styles, Styles, and More Styles

Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

Since the comic is an anthology, a wide variety of artists created their own zombie stories for ALL STAR FUBAR. This means there’s a lot of styles going around. In the story “Takin’ Care of Business,” Rob Croonenborghs illustrates Elvis working under the United States government to kill zombies.

The artwork is rather rough but appropriate for the tone the story emanates in its narration. Yet the artwork in ALL STAR FUBAR often is not exceptionally exemplary. Much of the illustrations emphasize heavy shadows and the strokes appear like messy scrawl in some pages. For others, the anatomy, perspective, and facial expressions are rather awkward or static. Not all of them are artistic misses, but a majority happen to be on the visually unappealing side.

A Journey to the Past

I expected more historical narratives in ALL STAR FUBAR. There are a couple, but not as many as I anticipated. However, one of my favorite stories is “Cinco de Muerte,” written by Eric Esquivel and illustrated by Ari Pluchinsky. People assuming Cinco de Mayo is a drinking holiday deeply resonated with me. The grandpa’s frustration with its appropriation is the story’s most relatable feeling. There are so many moments in “Cinco de Muerte” that made me laugh. Especially the use of the dreaded chancla and the grandpa’s “[Grumbling in Spanish.]”

Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

Esquivel got the history of Cinco de Mayo condensed into a few pages. He provides the right amount of information without overloading readers with minute details. For the most part, it’s accurate until the zombies are added in. But that’s okay; that’s the type of artistic freedom I want with historical contexts. Pluchinsky’s style heightened the fear appeal radiating from the Lord of the Night and the Smoking Mirror Tezcatlipoca.

Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

Of course, the Mexican victory over the French didn’t end with zombies demolishing the French army. The spin on the event is entertaining. It’s one of the few stories I immensely enjoyed, especially with the underlying connotations of the ending. ALL STAR FUBAR has a few gems like “Cinco de Muerte,” but some historical adaptions fall short in the anthology.

Falling Short

There is one story that rubbed me the wrong way because of its implication of molestation and rape. Unfortunately, some comics supply implied rape and molestation as this sort of gripping point in their comic. This has never boded well with me. You can have an amazing story, comic, or even anthology without such tropes. The narrative was awkward and rather crude with language. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against profanity, but profanity for profanity’s sake isn’t meaningful dialogue.


The Character Ensemble

Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

I’m a sucker for historical adaptions, even if they deviate from the information we have recorded. We get one heck of a kick-ass heroine in the story Ching Shih. Shih’s the world’s most powerful pirate whom you may or may not have heard of. A former sex worker, she became a pirate and commanded the notorious Red Flag Fleet. She was a strict pirate and enforced even stricter rules, especially for captives. Women who were “unappealing” were freed. However, those that remained captured the pirates would marry off, as long as the partner remained absolutely loyal and caring. Otherwise, if they assault their wives, the punishments would be severe. To name a few, it would include flogging and even chopping ears off. I can definitely appreciate how this story portrays Shih. Without hesitation, she takes on zombies and the English singlehandedly.

Image courtesy of Alterna Comics.

McComsey also got our current president spot-on. On his phone, offended by the mere notion of his self-perceived authority facing peril. It’s subtle, but one of the few additions I adored by McComsey. The context of this specific short story with our president is one of the otherwise forgettable tales. We get too many characters at once. The only aspect that remains a constant is the zombie-child who lives throughout the different centuries, but not much else. She doesn’t communicate, express herself, or deviate from instructions. So humorous as this depiction of the president is, we don’t get much else from the story. There’s no depth here.

Final Thoughts on ALL STAR FUBAR

If you’re into a full-on zombie fest, this anthology is for you. However, if you want short stories with emotional resonance, then just some of its tales are for you. The historical stories offer a funny perspective, such as Elvis killing off zombies in concerts. It’s inane, but entertaining nevertheless. Some stories are pretty well written for their own page constraints. Yet most of them are quite forgettable. And many feel too excessive in their approach to incorporate zombies somehow in the comic.

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Otherwise, the anthology is a decent read if you need something quick and on the go. Most stories in ALL STAR FUBAR rarely exceed 10-15 pages, so it’s something you can knock out in two hours. Some readers don’t want expositions on their characters. This makes ALL STAR FUBAR the ideal horror match for certain readers. You get some silly takes on zombies and some historical elements thrown in. It also explores darker themes which may or may not appeal to you. There are some hits and misses. Of course, that’s for you to decide if you pick up a copy of ALL STAR FUBAR.

ALL STAR FUBAR will be released on April 25, 2018, available here.

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