Welcome to Park Falls.
It’s a cozy little winter town with that rural, windswept, foot-of-snow sort of environment that instantly has readers reaching for a hot cup of coffee or a sweet hot chocolate. It’s bleak and bitterly cold.
And that’s before the townspeople start showing up dead.
Park Falls is the backdrop to what may or may not be an outbreak of flesh-eating zombies, set loose or created by the mysteriously transient Cline Pharmaceutical Company. At the core of it all is Derrick Peters, retired from the Park Falls Police Force, despite his young age. He is the object of trust for the town crazie; Cynthia Ford. It’s Ford who comes to him with the story about zombies, claiming to be an eyewitness. Whether she’s certifiable or certain, it’s up to Peters to find out.
Peters’ investigation brings him face to face with his old police chief and the charismatic Dr. Daniel Howe, who has been sent to investigate things as well. Sent by whom? That detail will have to reveal itself as the readers journey along the creepy, dark and sometimes violent path they walk with Peters.
Awakening is a ten-part mini-series written by Nick Tapalansky. The writer refers, accurately, to the work as “zombie noir”. That term is the perfect description for the series. Dialogue is sparse, save for the internal monologue that punctuates Peters’ battle with his beliefs. Derek Peters is where Phillip Marlowe meets George Romero. Awakening will have readers feeling so lonely that they need someone nearby, but so paranoid that they’ll double-check who’s in bed next to them.
The artwork is sketchy and minimalist at times, with actual photography filtered in to make readers question what they’re seeing. There is no stability in the book, by design. Every aspect of it is meant to keep readers guessing. Artist Alex Eckman-Lawn draws as if telling the story equally from the human and zombie perspective. His work provides the haphazard visuals to paint Tapalansky’s story. (Think part Jason Alexander and part Christopher Shy.)
Teresa Marra’s back covers provide the readers with a recap of sorts. It is one more calculated ingredient to keep readers trying to translate what they’re reading and have read.
Awakening is an intelligent cross-genre offering that is well-planned and creepy. Both horror and crime buffs will find themselves intrigued by the events in Park Falls. Who will survive, what is behind the mysterious murders and how can the unlikely gathering of doctors and detectives contain the contamination?
The series has received four Eagle Award nominations. Issues 01-03 are currently available from Archaia Studios Press (www.aspcomics.com). A preview of Issue 04 is currently available on the Archaia Studios website.