Writers: Brandon Starocci, Alan Dingfelder
Illustrator: Dmitris Nastos
Editor: Brandon Starocci, Alan Dingfelder
Publisher: 1282 Avalon Comics
Interior Artwork: 3.7
Cover Artwork: 3.4
About the Book:
Avalon Issue 1 is the opening installment in a story created by 1282 Avalon Comics that funded in March 2022 on Kickstarter. There have been further issues since then and I think issue 6 is due by the end of 2023 so whatever else is going on Avalon has an admirable production ethic.
In the large-scale Avalon is the story of the Castle family who live somewhere in smalltown America. It shows the struggles they face to stay alive and together in the face of a zombie apocalypse.
We start things off with an ‘in media res’ opening, a view of a dark empty apartment and the police at the door. It’s eerie and it’s creepy. In other words it sets the tone for the unfolding story very effectively.
The plot then moves to Bob’s Diner. The weather is bleak and dark, it’s winter and the snow is starting to fall. Inside we are introduced to the Castle family. They are at the diner to celebrate Mason’s birthday. The parents are clearly struggling somewhat with Mason, their youngest son, who appears to be suffering with a mix of anxiety and depression. Through the conversations of the family members and others at the diner we start to get a sense of the internal struggles and tensions within the family as well as the impending tidal wave of chaos about to descend on their world – news of people biting other people, people dropping off the radar unexpectedly and others getting sick and going to the hospital.
We learn that there is another relative of the Castle family, Andy, who is a policeman out on patrol at the time of the party and we see that it is his patrol that is called to investigate concerns for the resident of the creepy apartment shown in the opening.
The action that unfolds as Andy and his police patrol partner investigate the apartment leave us in no doubt about the imminence or scale of the crisis about to unleash itself on the world of the Castle family.
Avalon is currently heading for issue 6 so there’s clearly plenty going on in the plotline but rather than jumping the reader straight into the action packed carnage of a zombie apocalypse issue 1 starts slowly. It uses tension and the establishment of atmosphere to draw the reader into a world that has a bleak, troubled quality. The sense of foreboding it delivers kind of emotionally foreshadows the impending disaster very well.
The characters come across as three dimensional from the start and it is clear that they carry a weighty set of issues and problems themselves which will only intensify as the zombie apocalypse impacts on them.
The world that is sketched out in issue 1 is a standard kind of build up to a zombie apocalypse type scenario but as noted with rather more three-dimensional characters than we sometimes get in comics/ graphic novels.
Pacing was well used in Avalon 1. There was the slow, tense build up but once the physical action started there was an effective switch of pace and we get the blood, gore and desperation that we expect as the characters are confronted up close and personal by the zombie outbreak.
The art is rendered in greyscale and this, with color only being introduced at the end of the story as the blood began to spill, helped reinforce the emotional weightiness of the tale.
Given the number of characters in Avalon there’s plenty of scope for different story arcs and I’m sure we’ll see this developed in later issues. However, though each character was clearly defined I wasn’t exactly sure what the relationship was between all of them. For example, is Andy the eldest son in the family or an uncle/ brother-in-law etc.
The cover art showed a menacing center piece with the cast of family members and others surrounding the center piece but as noted it was a lot of characters to be presented with all at once and maybe it would have been helpful to have an intro sheet at the start of the story showing the characters and saying who was who in relation to the others.
I really enjoyed Avalon 1; It is clearly setting its stall out for a long haul where a set of well-developed characters battle their own internal conflicts as well as those presented by the external world as it collapses around them.