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Empire of the Dead: Act Three #5

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By George A. Romero, Andrea Mutti, Robert Poggi and Rain Beredo

This is the final issue of George Romero’s latest foray into his zombie-infested world. Several plots had to be tied up in this issue and unfortunately there weren’t enough pages to really give a satisfying conclusion. The scientist Penny Jones teams up with Paul Barnum and the undead gladiators to rescue the prisoners from the vampire’s blood farm. Meanwhile, Mayor Chandrake tries to make an elaborate escape amidst all the chaos…

Act One was so intriguing and brought up a lot of themes and issues that were relevant and progressed what Romero had established in his prior films, but these later issues just became bogged down in generic tropes. The last page of this book just wraps up things a little too nicely and leaves so many questions unanswered. It’s almost as if they expected readers to forget some of the subplots/plot holes or they realized that this was the final issue at the last minute. Either way, Empire of the Dead had a lot of potential and talent behind it and it was squandered in the end.

It is easy to see why George Romero went with this medium because the scope is quite large and would have required a hefty budget if it were done as a feature film. After reading this series though, one can’t help but think that maybe a film would have been a better route. The gore this writer/director is known for was gradually toned down sadly. That’s not to say that Andrea Mutti, Robert Poggi and Rain Beredo didn’t depict strong imagery. They had some panels that conveyed some eerie-ness or dread, but there wasn’t anything immediately catching one’s eye or attention. The inker, Poggi, along with the colorist, Beredo, made excellent use of the night setting and incorporated a lot of high contrast shadows and silhouettes. Mutti’s pencils were decent, just not enough to save the material.

Sad to say, but this was a major disappointment. The cover suggests an intense conclusion, instead the audience is given a fairly weak final battle. Readers who have already invested their time and money into this series, might as well pick it up, just don’t expect anything significant from it. It’s dead on arrival…

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