Quarantined is a complicated bookâ€”it’s definitely not for your average Marvel fanboy who enjoys flipping through the pages. It played out in my head like a classic Romero film with a touch of Danny Boyle thrown in and I had to stop after the first thirty pages to get a feel for what was happening in front of me.Â There’s a lot of depth to the characters here and often I found myself stopping to yell at them aloud for their decisions throughout the course of the book.
The story centers around a viral outbreak in a small town. A lot of people turn away at that idea because it’s been used so much in the past. Personally I’m a fan of the setting because it’s one of those glorious scenarios that can play out in so many different directions. I mean, you put zombies on a plane or a Greyhound bus and your options are pretty limited, but a small town often opens up into a much larger stage in which its characters can play their part.
The main protagonists of the story are Henry and his son Jonah, two people thrown into chaos from page one. After deciding that staying indoors is not the best course of action (is it ever?) they leave on a journey to the local hospital. Henry is determined to save as many people as possible, much to the dismay of his much more practical son, who is only concerned with staying alive for the foreseeable future. Throughout the book Henry displays this heroic mentality of saving lives and protecting the innocent, to a point where it’s almost aggravating that he is so willing to sacrifice himself for a complete stranger. Honestly, it’s enough to hate him as a character, but it’s not until much later in the book that the reason for his actions is truly brought to light.
The rest of the book is filled with a lot of your typical zombie movie archetypes. There’s Leontes, the drifter who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and who has a skill set best suited to a lifestyle in the gray area; Miles, the angry, bald, aging cop with an attitude that’s only exceeded by his waistline, a character who is just begging to have that one redeeming moment to make his slightly racist existence worthwhile; Jillian, the amnesiac mad scientist searching for the truth; Doctor Richard Noah, who keeps an almost Vulcan logic throughout the book, even when everyone else’s emotions are running wild and becoming dangerous; and Joy, the mother with an infected child, forced to make one of the hardest decisions imaginable. Each of these characters seems a little flat when we first introduced, but over the course of the book their true motivations and back stories are shown in a way that brings this motley crew closer together amidst the chaos. It’s good that the characters eventually come to life, but it should have happened a little earlier on.
About midway through the book the group encounters a man named Cormac, a philosophy professor at the local university, who has banded together with his students to basically form a new world order. He’s a very powerful character because of his ability to corrupt youth at an alarming rate, and have anything make sense after a few lofty ideals and eloquent speeches. It’s only when he is alone that you see him for the weak willed and flawed person that he truly is. Of all the characters in the book, I identified with Cormac the most. He’s a unique character that almost seemed out of place in a story like this, but somehow fits perfectly in the villain’s role.
Two things that broke out of the mold slightly, in a good way, were the way both the infected and the military are handled. Aside from acting as a barrierâ€”metaphorical and literalâ€”the military serves no real purpose in this story. Frankly I was happy to see that, since I’m tired of outbreak stories being shoehorned into some god awful analogy for how bad the military breaks down in a panic state. The zombies were treated well, with a generally good combination of both slow movers and sprinters and a good pack mentality. They were used sparingly so that the focus of the story could remain on the non-infected cast and their actions. Zombie stories should always be about human natureâ€”zombies are merely the brush used to paint the picture in my opinion, and the story sticks to this method well.
The last 3o pages are a veritable gamut of twists and turns and unexpected alliances. Not every question was fully answered, but the important ones were. The ending of a zombie story has to be impressive, otherwise the entire thing is a failed experiment. Quarantined delivers an ending that sets up a greater story to be told, essentially closing a chapter in one story to open another.
Of all the things that were very well done, there were things that unfortunately just fell short.Â I was not a fan of the art. Several times throughout the book there were noticeable changes in proportion, facial expression and detail, poses with firearms, and other small irregularities that pulled me out of the story almost entirely. Monty Borror is by no means a bad artist, but his work here just felt a little rushed. A lot of leeway should be granted due to the sheer volume of pages in the book, but it’s something that needed to be pointed out. The dark colors and shading that Lauren Sharp added to the inks was done well though, and definitely helped to cover up some of the minor art flaws. Jim Campbell’s letters were well done. I had no problems reading the text, it flowed well from panel to panel, and the word bubbles didn’t distract from the action on the page.
On the first read through, I had a hard time following the story. The characters’ actions seemed either telegraphed ten pages ahead or severely out of place. It was a little aggravating for me, but thanks to the magic of the internet I was able to speak with the book’s author, Michael Moreci, about it and he gave me this quote.
In a way, I was more going for what LOST did, in centering around characters who were ordinary people with muddled pasts and distinct flaws. That’s what I was trying for, at least. But I know the Romero movies so well, and it’s nearly impossible for me to wipe his influence out of my mind.
After speaking with Michael briefly to get his thoughts on what inspired him and the direction he took, the comic made a lot more sense to me. I gave it another read over the weekend and while I still feel like the art could have been more polished, the story is pretty damn solid. Upon a second go-around my overall impression of it went up considerably. I can honestly recommend this book to the IZA readership, or anyone who’s a fan of just a good story about human nature and the choices we make.
This is a really good book that’s well worth the twenty dollar price tag. You get 160 pages of fast paced action, layer upon layer of character depth, and a fantastic ending that just begs for a sequel. I give the book a solid B and think it would sit fine on any collectors bookshelf.