Cassie’s BOOM! Studios Review: KEY OF Z #4

In the bloody conclusion to Key of Z, the two warring factions of Jackson Met and Yankee Lavoe come to a head on Riker’s Island. In the middle of this fight is revenge seeker, former family man, and pied piper of the undead, Nick Ewing, who will stop at nothing to see these men punished for their heinous crimes against the living.

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The “Subway Seriez” (it’s actually spelled like that, no mocking my grasp of the English language allowed) grinds to a semi-satisfying halt in this final issue. It continues the story of broken yet determined Ewing and his magical zombie swaying harmonica as he faces death at the hands of Yankee Lavoe, despite having handed him the head of rival Jackson Met’s brother.

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As in the other series, rather than have the narrator’s inner monologue featured in a text box, a stylistic choice was made to depict them on lined notebook paper, because the story is actually being read from Ewing’s diary, or could be a remnant of him composing the thoughts onto paper. The diary itself is ratty, held together with duct tape and rubber bands to reflect Ewing’s own physical and emotional state. Despite its less than pristine nature, it must be noted that this is the zombie apocalypse, and pretty much everything is ghetto rigged by necessity.

It was nice to see the evolution of secondary character Eddie, despite this story being centered around Nick. From his early days as a “yes man” to his questioning and later rejection of authority, he exhibits a lot of growth in these four issues. Husband-wife team Claudio Sanchez and Chandra Echert give us an intriguing look into Eddie’s cowardly past. Haunted by the death of his brother due to his own decisions, in this issue, Eddie is finally able to move past his guilt and learns to fight for what is right. His brother may have been a ruthless killer with a desire to mold Eddie into his image, but we are witness to his evolution into a selfless man instead.

Sans the very human characters, Key of Z’s realism comes from the zombie creations of Aaron Kuder. He takes special care to create the zombies in varying degrees of decay (not everyone dies at once obviously) and in different modes of dress. Each zombie is unique, and it’s fun to pick out various character traits. After all, a goth girl can die just as well as a woman in a fluffy kitten sweater.

What stuck out to me most is the spectacular coloring work from Charlie Kirchoff. From the sickly green-lighted flashbacks that pervade Eddie’s worst memory to the Jackson Pollock style climax. The fight scenes are especially glorious, with seas of reds and oranges, and streaks of light and blood mixed together to create a thrilling look. All in all these scenes are beautifully disturbing and present some stunning panels in the process.

As a whole, Key of Z is a fun, adrenaline fueled look at the apocalypse, where you always root for the underdog.

Story: Claudio Sanchez and Chandra Echert
Art: Aaron Kuder
Cover: Nathan Fox
32 Pages/FC
$3.99
On Sale January 25, 2012!

4-5 Stars