I thought about going with a traditional zombie story for Halloween week, such as Marvel Zombies or DC’s Blackest Night but instead I turned to Children of the Grave from IDW, a unique zombie war story that has heart and a moral center.
The story follows three hardened American war veterans, Team Orphan, as they’re charged with a mission in a remote mountain area to take out a terrorist army and its leader, a man named Akbar Assan. Team Orphan’s mission is meant to reflect real-world factional strife, from Bosnia and Serbia to Iran and Afghanistan. As the American struggle to survive against the terrorists, they find an unexpected and terrifying ally in the children who have quite literally risen from the grave.
It’s more psychological horror than brain-eating zombies as the children risen from the dead force all combatants, including Team Orphan, to live through their own dark night of the soul.
What I found unique about this story is the depth and backstory given to Akbar Assan and his men. It’s not that their genocidal actions are justified or excused but they are put in context of his life and existence. These zombies aren’t nearly as interested in eating brains are they are in cleansing souls.
What Children Will Like About It:
This is not a story for young children but I think, depending on your child, that some kids ages ten and up would find it worthwhile. The three main characters are all very different and how they face their mistakes is valuable for kids to see.
I should also mention the gunfights and the various battles as Team Orphan struggles to survive and complete their mission, which might interest teens more than learning lessons. The art by Casey Maloney is clear and crisp but it never slides into gore. It’s more about the suggestion of what happen.
What Parents Will Like About It:
It is a modern-day morality tale, a well-told one, by a military veteran. The men of Team Orphan realistic and three-dimensional. I read a conversation last week about how war comics will never be popular again because no one is that ‘rah-rah’ anymore. I don’t think believe that. I believe that the best war stories, then and now, aren’t about “us good, enemy bad,” but about the men who have to fight for what they believe in and what it costs them.
This is not a story about terrorists and how awful they are, though Assan has done horrific things. This is a story about the price of war, especially to innocents.
About the Creator:
I interviewed writer and military veteran Tom Waltz about this comic for Sequential Tart when the comic was first released several years ago. He served four years in the U.S. Marine Corp and then as a military policeman for the California National Guard. Maloney has worked on IDW’s Zipper series and is the announced artist on the Star Trek book that will be part of IDW’s Infestation crossover in 2011.