Zombie: Invader - Welcome to Hell, review

Zombie: Invader - Welcome to Hell, review
Science fiction and monsters are two elements that seem born to be a team. It would be enough to mention Alien to reiterate how space is a perfect setting for setting up stories in which humanity usually plays the part of the prey of ruthless creatures. Usually, let's admit it, going to look for them, also showing that sometimes, being prey is almost a vocation. In other cases, however, the men of tomorrow simply have the misfortune of encountering alien monsters suddenly, as happens in Zombicide: Invader - Welcome to Hell.

Definitely prophetic title, considered as this first volume of a wider narrative arc takes us right into the hell that the protagonists will have to face, put to the test by the confrontation with monstrous aliens, the xenos, who dislike the human presence. But Zombicide: Invader - Welcome to Hell is not just a science fiction comic not to be missed, but is part of CMON's most varied project aimed at expanding the settings of its board games with comic stories that, on the one hand, expand the lore of CMON products, on the other hand, they also become an innovative way to introduce new characters to the games themselves.

Zombicide: Invaders - Welcome to hell: space is death and battle

When the project was announced at Lucca Comics and Games 2019 to bring the settings of CMON board games to the world of comics, the news was received with great curiosity. The three selected products (Zombicide, Zombicide: Invader and Chtulhu: Death may Die) were entrusted to the skilled hands of a creative team led by Luca Enoch and Stefano Vietti, who, supported by artists with whom they have shown a successful synergy in other works ( from Dragonero to Sottosopra), have given life to stories that sink with both hands in the lore of CMON games and in the common imagination of their respective contexts.

A real security, which has allowed these projects, once landed on Kickstarter, to burn every goal set in an absurdly short time. For those who have not participated in the triumphal crowdfunding, these volumes will be available for purchase at newsstands and comic shops thanks to Sergio Bonelli Editore, who is the licensee for Italy for the publication of these works.

E Zombicide: Invaders - Welcome to hell is the first of these volumes.

A spaceship used as a prisoner transport is hijacked during an attempted escape. After trying to quell the rebellion on board, the military is forced to make a crash landing on a nearby planet. The world in question is a human outpost still undergoing terraforming, currently used to extract a precious mineral and manned by a small garrison.

As soon as they landed on the planet and are convinced they have reached safety, the survivors of the ship prison find they have ended up in a nightmare: their welcoming committee is a host of monstrous aliens. Having barely survived the confrontation, the military soon discovers that a struggle for survival is underway on this world between humans and aliens, and they are destined to become part of this bloody conflict.

The narrative assumptions of Zombicide: Invader - Welcome to Hell have a sense of familiarity with some of the great science fiction classics, but we must bear in mind that the starting point of these stories is always the lore of the CMON games. Luck has it that Stefano Vietti had to develop these narrative dynamics, an author who, if currently appreciated together with his companion Enoch for Dragonero, in the past has repeatedly shown that he has mastered the science fiction story with a sure hand (Hammer, Nathan Never).

Vietti captures the essential features of the CMON board game setting, makes them the pillar on which to rest the narrative fabric of its story and from this base develops a dynamic plot, which transmits the kinetics of game sessions of Zombicide: Invader enriching it with a science fiction story in which the characters and settings are particularly vivid and exciting. To the point that those familiar with the board game will be able to enjoy an in-depth look at an already known setting, while those looking for an excellent sci-fi comic will be equally satisfied.

Zombicide: Invaders, from bord game to the comic

Zombicide: Invader - Welcome to hell, in fact, it reveals an exciting story full of twists, alternating with moments of lively action, which captures the reader. Vietti pays particular attention to the emotional development of the characters, creates, as is his habit, an intertwining that unfolds with perfect timing, letting events dictate the pace of the story, with a natural development of situations and human relationships that animate the reading with well-designed emotional peaks.

Although based on a pre-established basic structure, that is the board game of CMON, Vietti manages to find a formula in which the typical action of Zombicide: Invaders finds a narrative that you enhance its nature and make it a functional component of a solid and compelling story, the perfect first chapter of a more complex narrative arc. The dynamics behind the creation of these stories had been told by Luca Enoch, in an interview after the announcement of this project at Lucca Comics and Games 2019:

"We met at the" hermitage ", a small house that Stefano has in the mountains above Bergamo, for a couple of weekends. We took the three games with us - Zombicide, Invader and Cthulhu - and laid out all the miniatures and character cards on the table. We began to write sketches of subjects, free-wheeling, and we arranged them, adapting them to the worlds in which the stories were to be set. We have divided each subject into four chapters, in order to get the right narrative rhythm. When we agreed on everything, we split the scripts: Invader to Stefano, Cthulhu to me and Zombicide one chapter each. "

Given the results of Zombicide: Invaders - Welcome to hell, this approach has definitely paid off.

Also thanks to the excellent world building work of Giancarlo Olivares, author of the drawings of Zombicide: Invader - Welcome to hell. Olivares is one of the best interpreters of the Italian sci-fi comics (primarily Nathan Never), thanks to the dedication with which he creates the purely technological aspect of future worlds, taking care of the mecha design or the architecture of the world in which his characters move. . The basic setting was, in this case, already existing, but, as Olivares told us, his creativity nevertheless found a way to express itself freely:

"CMON gave us creative freedom by asking us to respect the spirit of the games. From a graphic point of view, there was no problem. The type of technology and visual solutions that form the concept of the Zombicide Invader graphic system is what I like: dirty, functional. A mix of modern and historical influences (with a reduced presence of cyberpunk influences). The game has provided me with an excellent base in which to insert my artistic creativity, starting with very good basic material (even if derivative, which makes it even more fun). Most monsters and characters come straight from the game cards. The settings respect the spirit of the game but with technical variations to adapt to the comic book transposition. "

The reason why the world in which the protagonists of Zombicide fight: Invader -Welcome to hell has a massive industrial look, marked by a concept that is not so spectacular as it is functional. Whether it's the monorataia or the terraforming towers, Olivares's hand outlines imposing structures that convey a sense of concreteness. The same treatment is reserved for the protagonists, massive warriors or long-limbed administrators, whose armor and liveries are the mirror of roles and hierarchies that do not struggle to emerge in history.

Olivares is able to characterize alien creatures in an excellent way, enhancing them not only the obvious monstrosity, but capturing poses and dynamisms that enhance their bestiality, with muscular flashes heralding spectacular moves that find a dynamic continuity capable of guiding the reader's eye even in the most excited phases.

Impressive tables on which the coloring of Paolo Francescutto is placed, again an impeccable interpreter of the chromatic emotionality of the story. His colors create a perfect contrast between the three protagonists of the story: the alien world, xenos and humans. The first two elements of this trinity have a relevance, based on a warmer color, declined in different shades, as if to connote a natural synergy between monsters and planet. For humans and their invasive architectural structures, the most cold, metallic tones are, as if you wanted to make humans the alien element in history. Francescutto revealed to us his particular approach to Zombicide: Invader - Welcome to hell:

“For Invader, attention to the characters was fundamental, there are many uniforms to keep an eye on, many soldiers who must be recognizable even from a distance, soldiers not by chance but who also appear in the game therefore identifiable, each with its own livery. To characterize the rooms, I chose cold lights as opposed to the heat of the monsters' slimy splatter "

As the first volume, Zombicide: Invaders - Welcome to hell stands as an unequivocal declaration of intent: quality and adventure. The desperate struggle of humans against xenos combines the rigid settings of CMON's board game with the inventiveness and artistic flair of the authors involved, giving life to a dynamic and exciting story, embellished with the lettering of Marina Sanfelice. The maniacal care of every aspect of Zombicide: Invader -Welcome to Hell also shines through in the extras that enrich the volume, through which to know the origin of the characters.

The ending of this volume leaves the reader with great expectations for the continuation of the plot, increasing the curiosity for the other narrative arcs related to this project. Zombies, alien monsters or demons it doesn't matter, it's time to start making room in our libraries.

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