Written by Max Brooks | Illustrated by Raulo Caceres | Published by Avatar Press | Format: Paperback, 160pp
In pop culture it’s fair to say that vampires and zombies are still the most popular monsters right now. With World War Z Max Brooks created a zombie apocalypse that fans loved (in book form at least) and showed an understanding of the monster, making his book a bestseller. Now in his graphic novel The Extinction Parade: Volume 1 vampires have been added to the mix, and with the artwork of Raulo Caceres the war between the two monsters has never been so full of gore.
The zombie attacks started off as random outbreaks but with the humans being seemingly able to keep them controlled, there seemed no real danger to the food source. This meant the vampires just sat back and enjoyed the show. Almost jealous that the zombies could attack without having to hide in the shadows, the vampires use the new-found chaos to have some fun knowing that their attacks would be just seen as another outbreak. As the zombie forces grow in strength though the human population begins to dwindle, with their food source in threat the vampires find they have to act before the status quo which worked so well for them slowly falls apart.
The interesting thing about Max Brooks’ approach to The Extinction Parade is the way straight from the get-go he splits the three species into social groups. The graphic novel, made up of the first five editions of the comic show the vampires living the comfortable life of high society where extravagance and greed is the norm, they have a system in place and it works very well. As long as their kills are hidden the humans tend to ignore them, a status quo that has lasted for hundreds of years and in essence works for both groups.
The humans live their lives as expected, totally oblivious to the vampire threat and almost arrogant against the zombie outbreaks that are slowly destroying their population. They believe they are in total control and nothing can take them down. The reader is put into the world of the vampire, we don’t really care about the humans they are just like background dressing, the only ones that matter are the servants who are slaves to their vampire masters. Even though we feel more pity for them than anything else.
The zombie is the classical form, where the vampire is the predator the zombie is the crowd, the massed force that consumes without caring. The zombie outbreak grows and continues to consume the human race without slowing down in pace, the problem with this is what happens when the food supply? This is the catalyst that brings the vampires into the war. In The Extinction Parade we see the build up to the moment of realisation for the vampire, when they finally realise that they have to act. This is the start of the war over food, the only thing that would probably push the vampires to act as they do.
It’s impressive that Max Brooks doesn’t rush in pushing the vampire and zombie into all-out war, he concentrates on the ambivalent arrogance shown by the humans and more so by the vampires, how can walking corpses be any danger to their society? Humans don’t realise they are cattle, most don’t even realise they are just a commodity in a turf war between monsters, as with most wars if it’s not religion that starts it, it’s about resource. Raulo Caceres doesn’t hold back in his creation of the horrors of war. Even when we witness vampire attacks these are drawn as bloody and very aggressive, this is not about seduction, this is about blood and food. The zombie attacks are just as extreme, bodies are ripped apart and consumed in gruesome detail. The emphasis is about showing the horror, not how emotional the creatures are.
The first volume of The Extinction Parade in its collected graphic novel form is a good introduction to a war that takes it’s time, but when it starts gets exciting quickly. We are given a good introduction to the world of the vampire and we learn enough about the zombies to fully understand what is at stake. There is no doubt that even if the vampires win the war, this is not about positives for the humans, it’s about making sure that the vampires will still have food. The humans are just cattle so what should we care about them? I’m sure as The Extinction Parade continues the vampires will struggle by the sheer numbers of the zombies, but when they are such good predators, I’m sure they’ll have more than just a chance of winning this war.
The Extinction Parade: Volume 1, by Max Brooks, is available now from Avatar Press.