Hello, my friends. The time for all of us to feast upon the delightfully ghoulish treats are at hand. With our specific hunger starting to reach a fever pitch, it’s time for us to once again delve into this special series known as…
If you wish for a more detailed account on how our main group has gotten this far, then please check out my reviews of the past three issues. Aside from that, here’s a cliffnotes recap of everything we’ve seen thus far: Shaun is a slacker who’s non-ambitious drive and forgetfulness has cost him his love life with Liz. Just then, a zombie outbreak occurs as he and Ed must fend the ghouls off as they attempt to save Shaun’s parents. However, his stepdad Philip has been fatally bitten by a zombie. After Liz and her two friends David and Dianne get picked up, Philip has become fully zombified as the group is forced to abandon him. From there, they make their way towards the Winchester Tavern, but not before Barbara came across a zombie and her son had to fend him off. With a gigantic group of ghouls surrounding the familiar pub, Shaun and company are forced to act like zombies in order to reach the establishment. However, the front door is locked and they choose a bad time to go out-of-character as the undead take notice. With David smashing the front window, Shaun hastily decides to divert the zombies’ attention and lure them away in order for the rest of the group to get inside. With that recap out of the way, let’s get into our featured issue for this review.
Published in November 2005, our featured comic went on to sell 7,209 copies upon its initial release. In total, all four issues sold 33,454 copies over a six-month period. So, what final batch of absolute terror awaits our group? Let’s get a bloody pint and find out.
Issue 4 begins with the zombie hoard successfully lured away as our group proceeds to climb into the Winchester, but not before Barbara discovers the recently-discarded bouquet that was meant for her. Afterwards, the gang sits within the growing darkness of the establishment for nearly 20 minutes as they wait for Shaun to return. Unbeknownst to them, he manages to give the wandering undead the slip as he jumps into a garbage bin and waits for them to lumber on by before he heads back to the familiar pub. However, at least one particular zombie ambiguously notices.
Back inside the Winchester, David gets so impatient that he thinks that Shaun has left them here. Liz argues with him as she says that she doesn’t know when exactly Shaun will be returning, but they have to make the most of their present situation. As Ed goes to prepare drinks, David flips out and starts throwing snacks around. Just then, Shaun arrives and catches a bag of “Hog Lumps” as he learns from Liz that the building’s power and phone lines are out. David then asks how he evaded the massive zombie hoard, to which Shaun simply exclaims that he “gave them the slip”. He then mentions that he got in through the back door and that he was going to mention that before David smashed the front window. When Liz then asks about his plan, it turns out that Shaun didn’t think that far ahead as he and the gang proceed to hang out within the pub.
As night falls, the street lights come on as Shaun realizes that the building’s main power is simply off. From there, he heads to the back and uses the fuse box to restore the pub’s electricity. However, he discovers that the zombies have ultimately followed him and that someone sinister is lurking within the storage closet. As Dianne discovers that every single channel is out, Ed acquires a Quid from Liz before she gets informed by Shaun that the ghouls have found him. Just as she says that they’ll need to be as silent as possible, they suddenly realize that Ed is starting up his favorite barside game. Because of the excessive noise that it makes, Shaun and Liz frantically rush over to stop him and unplug the machine. Unfortunately, it attracted more zombies as they proceed to surround the pub.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the lurking terror finally emerges from the supply closet as it turns out to be the pub owner (named John in the movie) who’s now fully-zombified. Shaun grabs a billiard stick and proceeds to fend him off. Dianne tries to help out by throwing a dart at the ghoul, but it comically ends up hitting the side of Shaun’s head. Ed then throws him the Winchester rifle, but he ultimately uses it to force the zombified owner into the jukebox and electrocute it. Ed then asks him why it didn’t use the gun to fire back. As Shaun says that it doesn’t work, he accidentally discharges it and unintentionally proves his friend right before pulling the dart from his head. One thorough search later, Shaun lays out his plan to Ed, David and Dianne. Because they only have 29 shells to work with, he’ll fire off the gun at the approaching zombies, Ed will help him reload while the rest will keep a sharp lookout. Meanwhile, Liz takes Barbara off to the side as Shaun’s mother gives her a necklace that she got from her first husband. As she hands it over, Liz makes a grave discovery as it turns out that the backyard zombie did bite her wrist. Barbara explains that she didn’t want to make a big fuse and further worry her son. As the zombies start to break in, Shaun’s plan has some early struggles as he’s initially unable to hit his mark while David and Dianne are being overly-complicated with pointing him out towards the possible break-ins. Eventually, he finally manages to score a successful headshot upon one zombie.
Afterwards, Shaun notices his fatally ill mother as he discovers her bite mark. Barbara manages to thank her son for the bouquet before she ultimately succumbs to the supernatural sickness. Shortly afterwards, David steps in with the rifle as he prepares to finish her off. However, it doesn’t entirely sit well with the group as Shaun breaks a bottle and holds it up to David as he warns him not to shoot his mother. Ed joins in on this as David exclaims that if they don’t kill Barbara off soon, she’ll come back as a zombie and mutilate them. However, Shaun sees this as David’s complete lack of friendly respect to him, along with his belief that he was never good enough for Liz. David tries to deny the fact that he was in love with her, but Dianne backs up the claim. She says that he only hung out with her so that he could get with Liz and when that ultimately fell through, Dianne was able to help him out. Liz then orders everyone to calm down before telling Shaun that despite this heartbreaking moment, they can’t afford to fall apart now. Just then, Barbara re-emerges as a zombie. Despite the tearful situation, Shaun takes it upon himself and proceeds to execute his ghoulish mother.
Afterwards, David commends him for doing “the right thing”. Angered with what he had to do, Shaun retaliates by punching him. David then grabs the rifle and tries to fire back, but it was fortunately out of shells. Afterwards, he says that he’s not staying put as he prepares to leave despite the massive hoard of zombies attempting to break in. When he implies that Dianne will be going with him, she shoots that notion down since it’s a suicidal move. She then tells him that Shaun didn’t ask for them to come here and that they went with him since they were unsure of what to do at the time before she orders him to step away from the door. David apologizes, but Dianne says that she and the rest of the group aren’t the ones who should be receiving his admission of regret. Just as he’s about apologize to Shaun, the zombies burst in and grab David. The gang tries to save him, but it’s too late as the ghouls proceed to rip him apart. Armed with only his severed leg, Dianne opens the doors and rushes out to save David as she disappears within the undead crowd.
Fortunately, Ed has prepped a Molotov Cocktail as he manages to incinerate a ghoul before informing Shaun that the fully-zombified Pete is now amongst them. As Liz attempts to hold off a group of zombies with a coat rack, Ed gets bitten by a pair of zombies with Pete being one of them. Shaun notices and yells at his former flatmate to leave his friend alone before taking him out with a headshot. Afterwards, he and Liz jump over the bar counter as the zombies begin to overrun the place. Ed joins them shortly afterwards and informs him that they can escape down into the cellar. From there, they can use the adjacent barrel hatch in order to get outside. With no other available options, they proceed with their descent.
As Liz tends to Ed’s wounds, Shaun is unable to open the barrel hatch. With nowhere left to go, he feels completely useless since his plans have fallen apart and he got several group members killed. Liz comforts him by saying that he did the best that he could. With only two shells remaining, Shaun considers committing a group suicide in order for them to be spared from becoming zombies. Suddenly, he finally notices the controls for the barrel hatch as he goes to get his friend. However, Ed wishes to stay behind so that his pal can finally be with his lady fair and that he’ll only hold him back. Shaun apologizes for his earlier outburst before Ed says that he’s sorry as well. However, he was only doing his silent fart gag as Shaun once again laughs at the obnoxious scent. From there, he gives his friend the rifle before heading out with Liz. With the Winchester burning down, the two of them prepare to fight their way though the undead hoard. Suddenly, a specialized unit arrives and proceeds to gun down the remaining zombies.
Six months later, a news broadcast reflects upon the events of Z-Day as the zombie outbreak is now a thing of the past. Shaun wakes up as it turns out that Liz has moved in with him. With their relationship patched up, she lays out the plan for their relaxing day before going to prep their tea. Shaun then mentions that he’ll be in the garden for a little bit, to which he heads out back. Upon entering the shed, he picks up a game controller as the story ends with him playing some Timesplitters with a zombified Ed.
In terms of how this final issue handles the translation process of the movie’s final act, this has its strongest batch of difference between page and screen. Remember the moment from earlier in this issue when Shaun initially evaded the massive zombie hoard by jumping into a garbage bin and hid for a while before heading back? Well, that was not in the film. In the credits for this issue, that scene was based on storyboards from Oscar Wright. By comparison with the film, the group simply waits in growing darkness for Shaun to return as David begins his rampant complaints about the lack of efficient planning from Liz’s ex-boyfriend. Not to mention, he tries to take advantage of Shaun’s absence by nominating himself as de facto team leader. When our main protagonist ultimately returns, he explains that he “gave them the slip”. Either way, this is a major win for the comic since it was able to use a deleted sequence to its advantage and actually show how he originally evaded his ghoulish pursuers. In short, it followed the simple phrase of visual storytelling: “Show, Don’t Tell”. While there are exceptions to this rule that do exist and thus let’s our imagination fill in the blanks, this is not one of those times and would’ve have made Shaun’s personal character progression a bit more satisfying for those who’re only exposed to him in the movie. The comic then adds a small bit afterwards where Shaun points out the lingering body bits that’re on his shirt that’s also exclusive to the comic, but that’s neither here-nor-there. To give a favor towards the film, the sequence when the zombified pub owner emerges to engage our heroes has a moment that the comic is unable to capture due to the differences of mediums. In the movie, it was a humorous sequence where due to the restored power to the Winchester, the jukebox was able to randomly play “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. The film also had Ed and Liz initially joining Shaun in smacking the zombified owner with billiard sticks instead of Shaun going solo in that venture within the comic. The movie also showed David trying to cut the power in order to turn the jukebox off, but to no avail. However, the comic left that part out. Also, in the moment when Dianne tries to help by throwing darts at the zombified owner, the movie showed her throwing three of them. The first came dangerous close to Shaun, while the second hits the ghoul’s arm. It was the third shot that struck our main man on the side of his head. While the sequence does end with Shaun acquiring the Winchester rifle from Ed in order to smash the undead owner into the jukebox, the literal Chekhov’s gun was originally set-up during the scene when Shaun’s lovelife had just crashed-&-burned and he’s drinking his sorrows away with Ed. That detail was left out of Issue 1 as well as Ed’s brief mentioning of it to the group during their encounter with the zombified owner in this issue. Either way, this hilarious sequence was a laugh riot in the movie while the comic truncates it to two-thirds of a page. Another major difference to note concerns of a few firey moments. While the comic sees Ed chucking a Molotov Cocktail at a zombie before he gets bitten, the film doesn’t give him the chance before the undead Pete and another ghoul start to chow down on him. Finally, we have Shaun, Liz and Ed having hopped over the bar to get away from the overwhelming mass. In the film, Shaun soaks the countertop with alcohol before setting it on fire in order to give them some breathing room. However, the shells were accidentally left on there and he’s now unable to retrieve them due to the fire. That explained why they were further sidelined with using the rifle like before, but it also allowed the exploding rounds to pick off a few more zombies in the process. While we’re still in the pub, let’s mention a detail that the comic decided to throw out. If you recall the break-up scene from the first issue, it left out a detail that was supposed to be paid off here. In the movie, Liz mentioned all of the things that Shaun promised to do, but never followed up on. One of those things was quit smoking, to which he takes out his cigarettes and throws them into her bin. While in the Winchester’s cellar, she reveals that she kept them all of this time. As he’s about to light them up, the lighter’s flame illuminates the controls to the barrel hatch, thus paying the smokes off. Here, he just suddenly notices the controls out of the blue. Finally, there’s one last difference to make note of. When Shaun and Liz make their way back onto the street, the specialized unit comes in and guns down the zombies. It’s at this moment that Yvonne makes her last appearance in the film and tells them that they’re being taken to a shelter. As they walk off, Shaun and Liz proceed to take each other’s hands, thus symbolizing that the experience has helped them fix their relationship. There are some more minor changes here-and-there, mainly in terms of dialogue, but that’s about it. Despite the major differences made when converting this final portion onto the page, it still adapts the third act’s plot as faithfully as it can. The artwork helps to bring about the hectic climax in a very coherent manner, the recognizable dialogue delivers the familiar laughs, wit & emotions to its fanbase and the pacing moves at a nice clip throughout. As for the series, it does a respectably solid job in translating Edgar Wright’s breakout film into comic book form. For this being his first-ever writing gig, Ryall had some nice support in bringing this four-part tale to print. He shows his respect to the original material and presents it with enough care and love to a modern classic that helped zombie-related media gain a popular foothold in the 21st Century. If you’re a fan of the movie or you’re remotely interested, then hunt down either the four individual issues or go get the trade collection since it’s a slice of fried gold worth experiencing. Now that the main tale is over, what else is there to cover with this topic? Come back this Halloween as we delve into some side stuff that the main narrative wasn’t able to cover. Best of all, it’s in comic form! Until then, stay safe as we wait for all of this to blow over.
Shaun Of The Dead (created by Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg) is owned by Universal Pictures.