With Fatima: The Blood Spinners #1, Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame is trying his hand at the zombie game. Major Spoilers is here to give a review without the spin; just let us lay down a tarp first.
Mea culpa, I must confess, I’ve never read any of Los Bros Hernandez’s comics. I’ve heard tell of fully-fleshed out fictional villages in exotic locales, tinged with magic realism and compelling characters. Reading Fatima: The Blood Spinners #1 as an initial introduction to Gilbert Hernandez’s work, I found… none of that.
“NO EXTRA POINTS FOR OVERKILL, FATIMA.”
Fatima: The Blood Spinners seems relatively simple on its face. There’s a drug called Spin which is super-addictive, with a somewhat deleterious that rapidly turns users into zombies. The titular character was once a member of a government-run kick squad that sought to stymie the flow of Spin into the unnamed city, but who now cracks zombie skulls freelance. And it is that simple on further examination, too. This is the sort of comic where the first five pages consist entirely of a wasp-waisted woman blasting ghoul heads with what look like dual-wielded blow-dryers. Throw in an obligatory flashback about how life wasn’t always so bad, reference a mysterious traumatic event that will be spelled out in the future, and there it is.
In this issue, Fatima is still a pretty stock action protagonist – a hard-hearted ass-kicker with a haunted past – and the plot isn’t anything new. This comic seems to be more Gilbert Hernandez stretching his splatterpunk legs than doing anything groundbreaking with zombies. It goes down a lot easier if you have a sense of humor about the excessive action, blood and guts. This is stuff is too out there to be anything but tongue-in-cheek. Check out the Joe Bob counts at the review’s end to get a sense of scale on this – Fatima: The Blood Spinners is wild, gory stuff that serves as a vehicle for ridiculous, funny violence more than anything else.
WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET
Check out that cover. In a rare example of truth in advertising in comics, that is exactly what you will find on the pages within. If it wasn’t for Gilbert Hernandez’s art, this issue might’ve been a bit of a slog. But he is so clearly having fun with the many, multiple instances of excessive violence, and it is infectious (if that’s your sort of thing). He adds in a lot of funny details – weird jockstraps on the police unit’s uniforms, ridiculously enlarged anatomy for a few female zombies, explicitly blow-dryer-esque guns – which provide a poppy goofiness to the proceedings. If you aren’t familiar with Gilbert Hernandez’s work, it embodies the flat, explicitly cartoony Pop Art styles that are present more in the independent realm – this isn’t akin to anything you’ll be seeing in the pages of Avengers vs. X-Men. I dig this cartoony style for this sorta thing – the clean, uncluttered lines make the horror all the more outrageous, as Hernandez lovingly renders things like eyes popping out of a zombie’s exploding head. I do wish this was in color though – for $3.99, I could use a little of that four-color goodness from the cover for just that much more pop.
“… AT THE MANSION OF DRUG LORD PUGGY BITTERMEAT”
Did you like Planet Terror better than Death Proof in Grindhouse? Then you should like this. Are you easily grossed out? Then stay away. Gilbert Hernandez isn’t reinventing the wheel with Fatima: The Blood Spinners. He’s just doing fun, bloody, zombie gross-out stuff on his own terms. This is not the most vital of comic books, but it is definitely fun. And fun is good. This comic has 39 headshots, 10 instances of government-sponsored assassination, 2 exploded eyeballs, 2 living bikini babes, 2 living dead bikini babes, 1 gang beat-down, and 1 instance of a character named “Puggy Bittermeat.” Fatima: The Blood Spinners #1 earns a gore-drenched three and a half out of five stars.