Today, I read Alpha Girl #1, the latest hyped-up new Image issue #1 to be released on the year of the publisher’s 20th anniversary. It often seems like a new series from Image gets an automatic buzz around it, but I’d venture to say that Alpha Girl was only the second best “teenage girls VS zombies” comic I read this week, with first place going to this 11th issue of Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls VS Zombies, from writer B. Alex Thompson and artist Kewber Baal.
I get a lot of indie issue #1s sent to me for review, but it’s more unusual for me to get an issue #11. I think that alone is commendable: that this is a concept that creator Thompson has kept running for a whole 10 issues already, with no end seemingly in sight. Getting a miniseries off the ground is ambitious enough, so taking the ongoing approach is extra-ballsy. Even more ambitious is the fact that Thompson has also woven in a crossover with Dogwitch, another title from publisher Approbation Comics. Bearing all this in mind, it’s also a big point in this comic’s favor that, despite issue #11 being my first exposure to Chaos Campus (or, indeed, Dogwitch), everything felt very accessible to me, and as a first time reader I felt like I was quickly caught up on everything I needed to know. Not just in terms of a handy collection of character bios in the opening title/credits page, but in terms of characters reflecting on events that happened previously and demonstrating their personalities and relationships through their interactions with each other.
The story is pretty lightweight and goofy, but I think that’s the point. In spite of serious peril in the form of zombies, axe murderers and assorted magical beasties, Thompson keeps things light, zipping along at a fun pace with another one-liner or sight gag never too far away. It’s a shame that Violet – apparently, the guest-star from Dogwitch – is apparently only onboard for this issue, as she steals the show here, with some pithy put-downs and a surreal blend of humor that’s akin to my tastes. The other girls are fun too, though, particularly Paige, who I got a real “Willow from Buffy” vibe from.
Kewber Baal does a good job with the art. Each character is distinctive enough, and the locations are well rendered. There is a slight tendency towards cheesecake at points – which I suppose is to be expected from any comic with “sorority girls” in its title – with one upskirt ass shot proving especially audacious. But, I guess this is a compliment, the cheesecake isn’t as ridiculous as it could have been, or what you might have been led to expect from the cover. And some of it’s so over-the-top – take the extended “Oh no, my clothes have disappeared!” sequence – that we have to assume it’s being played for laughs rather than titillation, and is supposed to be a parody of comic book cheesecake. It’s not like some comics I’ve read, where I’d be embarrassed if a female friend caught me reading it.
Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls VS Zombies, may not be the most deep or profound read you’ll experience from a comic, but if you were expecting that with this title then you need to have your head examined. This does what it says on the tin, providing action and laughs, and made for a brisk, enjoyable read. Here’s to the next 11 issues!