For anyone who's wondered how real people, with all their pettiness and nobility, might react to an infestation of flesh-eating zombies, "Power Girl" writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray present a fairly compelling portrait in "Last Resort." The five-issue miniseries, published by IDW and illustrated by Giancarlo Caracuzzo, follows the adventures of a planeful of passengers who have crash-landed on a tropical island on which a biological disaster has given rise to a deadly infestation. CBR News spoke with Palmiotti about "Last Resort," as issue #3 arrives in stores this week.
In their latest miniseries, Palmiotti and Gray, who regularly work together on series like "Jonah Hex," have created a book with a large ensemble cast, which leads to a storytelling style distinct from what is usually found in zombie comics. The pacing of "Last Resort" is a bit interesting for a horror comic in that the first two issues have been devoted to set-up and characterization--there has been barely any flesh-eating madness at this point, though (some) characters have lived through a plane crash and other forms of excitement.
"It's easy to make this all about the horror, but for us, there needed to be a connection with the people put in danger's way, and without a solid connection, I feel there is nothing to come back for," Palmiotti said of the writing team's approach to storytelling for the series. "To some, all these characters may seem like a lot to juggle, but its only because in this day and age of comics, most readers aren't given much to read between the covers and have a 'wait for the trade' mentality. With 'Last Resort,' we wanted to explore the human side of dealing with a disaster…one after the other…and how different people might react differently," the writer continued. "This is not a zombie comic in a traditional sense at all; this is about a biological disaster, at its core. Think Irwin Allen movies of the '70s, like 'The Poseidon Adventure' and 'The Towering Inferno,' and add a vacation island and a bunch of city folk trying to stay alive while an island of infected people try to consume them. It's just like that."
Humor permeates "Last Resort" in equal portions to horror, as the cast includes at least a few rather rude and self-involved people. "Given the right situation, we get to see different people react badly, and that happens here, but for the most part all of the characters are just trying to stay alive," Palmiotti said of his ensemble cast. "As far as the humor goes, Justin and I find most people funny... or at the very least, how they react and what they choose to do pretty funny. I think there is humor in everyday things, and the humor here is really what the reader decided is humor or just tall children acting stupidly. I have to say, I do think that reading a comic has to be fun on some level, or why bother."
Palmiotti stated in a previous CBR interview that some of these characters are based on folks he knows personally. He said he has heard from two such people "who loved that they were featured in the story." "I didn't get a call from the girl featured in the book, yet, that plays the movie star. She actually won the part in a contest for charity…it's too bad what happens to her," the writer said. "The pilot, Dean, is my next door neighbor here, and he loves it. I think that's because he hasn't gotten an advance peek at issue 5 though . Once he does, it might not be so easy to borrow his lawn mower anymore. Such is life."
The first two issues of "Last Resort" have been well-received, especially amongst other comic pros, who have praised the book on Twitter and elsewhere. Asked about series' critical success, Palmiotti said, "I think the art for one hits a nerve--Giancarlo is European and makes each and every character have personality and makes them distinct from one another. He gets better each and every page he sends our way.
"The other thing is that we spent a lot of time building up the characters, something you don't see too often. And we are able to add some sex to our violence, another thing lacking in modern comics these days. We went for the things we like to see, and the idea of nudity and bloody chaos, in the end, has found a pretty solid following. We are very pleased with all the amazing reviews we have gotten so far and hope everyone sticks around til the insane ending."
With the five-part miniseries reaching its midpoint in this week's issue #3, Palmiotti said the second half of "Last Resort" would feature all the classics, including "nudity, infected people, guns, rabid animals, a lot of pot smoked, some claustrophobic activity, exploding buildings, some screwing, heads exploding, topless bikini clad women under water, windows smashing, an assisted suicide and a pug.
"There is more, but I will let you guys discover that for yourself."