Saturday, August 22, 2015

FUBAR: Declassified Review

Zombie stories are everywhere. Movies, TV shows, books, and more, the idea of the undead has always been a popular trope to draw from for interesting horror stories. Today, I'll be looking at FUBAR: Declassified, an anthology of stories written by Chuck Dixon, Jeff McClelland, and Jeff McComsey and the follow-up to FUBAR: Mother Russia.
The stories contained within FUBAR: Declassified all center around zombies existing in political conflicts throughout America's history. From the Cold War to the War on Terror, this universe establishes that zombies exist and have played a role in various historical events.

The premise sounds oddly specific, and at times, it is restrictive. The first 2-3 stories within the anthology are repetitive, focusing on the military taking on zombies in combat. By the third story, the elements (zombies, soldiers dying, the desire of the government to keep everything under wraps) are told over and over again through the exact same structure. However, these stories are far from boring, containing gruesome battle scenes and the tragedy that occurs when a comrade falls to the undead. Props to the writers for their portrayal of a warzone as well, making sure that the dialogue between the soldiers felt authentic. The characterization is also expertly done, the writing able to convey the commitment to the mission and the adaptability of soldiers in the battlefield. When you add in the gritty art style of the first few chapters, FUBAR: Declassified becomes a very engaging war story, despite the repetitive elements. Nevertheless, for those who aren't into horror or war stories, the first couple of stories in this anthology will seem like a drag.
The highlight of FUBAR: Declassified to me was (surprisingly) in the politics. When you add the incredibly powerful "biological weapon" (zombies) into a divisive global conflict, the story cannot help but become more and more interesting. FUBAR: Declassified recognizes this, and it does a stellar job in exploring all aspects of the politics behind the involvement of zombies. One story focuses on border control and how ordinary civilians' lives are affected by the involvement of the higher-ups. Another brings to light the underhanded techniques political officials dirty their hands with in order to gain leverage. My favorite story involving the assassination of Kennedy cleverly implemented zombies into a story of government cover-ups, questioning what should and shouldn't be kept from the public eye. Though the first part of the anthology was a fairly enjoyable war story, it was the political tension and thought-provoking themes that kept me engaged.

In terms of the artwork, I have already spoken about the grittiness of the first part of the anthology. However, the rest of the novel is characterized by various art styles from the different artists who worked on this project. There are some instances of iffy panels, but most of the artwork can be described as very fitting. Although I am not usually a fan of hyperrealistic artwork in comic books, that particular style fit very well into the drama and tensions of the story it was used. Similarly, another story has a Pixar-esque vibe in its artwork, conveying the tranquility of civilian life. The thoughtfulness behind the stylistic choices should be applauded, despite the minor imperfections in some of the artwork.

As a whole, FUBAR: Declassified was a well-made anthology, as expected of any Alterna Comics release. While I enjoyed this collection, and would recommend it to any horror-loving friends, it did not exactly fit my personal tastes as Metaphase or the recent IF Anthology have. This particular one seems targeted towards a specific audience, so it would be wise to take a look at the preview pages before picking this title up.

FUBAR:Declassified is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

*Thanks to Peter Simeti for providing the copy used in this review*

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