REVIEW: ’68 #1

'68 #1 (of 4)

Written by Mark Kidwell

Art by Nat Jones & Tim Vigil

Colors by Jay Fotos

Letters by Jason Arthur

Image Comics

There's a popular saying in cooking circles that "everything is better with bacon" and it's one that I can attest to. It works about 99.9% of the time. Heck, I'll even put bacon on ice cream. Seriously, try it. Along the same line is a similar saying in comics. "Everything is better with Zombies". And that works about 50.9% of the time. It's no secret that the comic book zombie craze is still in full bloom, and with the success of both the comic and TV series versions of The Walking Dead it's probably here to stay for the foreseeable future. Luckily for for us, zombies are a lot like bacon. While you file that last line under things you thought you'd never read, just agree with me that they do make things better, which brings us to the latest comic series that has taken a tried and true story setting and added the magic undead ingredient to the mix; '68 from Image Comics.

'68 is telling an alternate reality version of the zombie apocalypse set 1968, and in war torn Vietnam. More simply put, it's zombies in The 'Nam. War stories, especially Vietnam War stories can be full of all sorts of horrific atrocities that humans can commit on each other. When you mix that with zombie horror, a truly frightening and tense comics series could be born. '68 starts with a pretty obvious but still interesting zombie encounter: a sniper rising from the dead and continuing his attack on a US firebase. While the imagery of a Viet Cong sniper is pretty cool, you have to question how good of a shot these guys are. Whether you like the slow moving mindless undead, or the more intelligent variety, '68 captures the creep factor pretty well. The much more interesting, and frightening part of the story comes when we meet Yam, the first protagonist of '68. Yam is a Vietnamese American serving in the Army and specializing in what has to be the worst job in the war. Yam is a tunnel rat. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong used an elaborate series of tunnels to hide in, fight from, travel through and generally terrorize enemy troops from. When troops found entrances to these tunnels it was the job of the tunnel rats to scout them out and flush out any remaining threats, usually with only a .45, a knife and a flashlight. If the idea of going into a tunnel system peppered with booby traps and an unknown number of people all wanting to kill you isn't scary enough, let's add some zombies. One of the historical nuggets that series writer Mark Kidwell uses to great effect is that the tunnel walls were also used as graves for fallen soldiers. So now you can imagine (and see in '68) crawling through a dirt tunnel and all of a sudden are surrounded by decaying hands emerging from the walls grasping for anything they can get hold of. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about it. It's this scene that puts '68 over the top as a successful horror story.

Like most good zombie tales, there is no backstory to the origins of the oncoming apocalypse. The zombies just start appearing in the jungle. What makes this a little different than other stories is that the people involved are already surrounded by death and destruction. They're already on edge and armed to the teeth. There's no scrambling your way to the local hardware store to arm yourselves with shovels and hedge clippers in '68. Kidwell and his co-creators have set up a plentiful kill-zone with all the firepower and zombiefodder in Southeast Asia at their disposal. Whether the main characters elevate beyond 2-dimensional soldiers in the bush is yet to be seen. Yam has possibilities, but ultimately the viewer probably cares about him just enough for him not to be eaten. which is all you need. One of the added features to this first issue is an additional back-up story with art by Tim Vigil. Showing that the undead are roaming outside of the jungle and making their way into the towns and villages of Vietnam widens the story and shows that even if the soldiers of the firebase get out, the threat will be far from gone. Of course the end may not be avoidable at all as we find out in Kidwell's notes that '68 is a story from the last 10 years of civilization. It looks like stopping the spread of Communism is going to become the least of our worries pretty quickly.

Nat Jones and Tim Vigil's art, along with the always spectacular colors of Jay Fotos, capture the grime and gore of war perfectly. The characters all look worn down and on edge. The uniforms, equipment and surroundings all fit what you've come to expect from a Vietnam War story, and the zombies are pretty damn scary as well. '68 isn't trying to push the envelope on comic storytelling or even modern horror. It does a good job of being what it is, zombies in The 'Nam. It's hard to find new ways for zombies to scare us, but just like bacon, zombies have been added to something that was already scary and it made it better.

Story: 3.5 / Art: 3.5 / Overall: 3.5
(out of 5)


  1. I picked this up and really enjoyed it. I’m surprised there isn’t more buzz about this book.

  2. Wow, Tim Vigil — I haven’t heard his name in years. I was intimidated by his “Faust,” because it seemed above my maturity level.

  3. Awesome, something new to look for at the store this week. This sounds like something I would like.

    @WilliamKScurryJr   I haven’t thought of Faust in a long time. I think I have a few issues someplace. It was fucked up.

  4. Thanks for the review. I picked this up on a whim and enjoyed it.