Published By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: November 6th 2013
For a very simplified tower-defense game Plants vs Zombies has been an epic success. One game made it to pretty much every platform under the sun and people were happy to buy it over and over again. Plants vs Zombies 2 has recently been released on iOS but fortunately I'm not reviewing that here so you're saved my ranting diatribe on the curse of fremium and the consumable approach to in-app purchases. Instead I'm looking at a Plants vs Zombies comic book.
Plants vs Zombies: Lawnmageddon is a hardcover book that collects the previously digital exclusive comics that finished a six issue run in August.
Aside from the simple-but-adicting gameplay, the original game had a wonderfully quirky sense of humour as well as a fun cartoony art style. It was not, however, well known for an intricate plot, so I thought it would be interesting to see how the world translated over to comic book form.
Although the game this is based on appealed to a wide range of age groups it should be said that this is very much a children's comic. That's not a bad thing, of course, but it's worth noting that the writing feels like a comic based on a saturday morning cartoon series. The puns come thick and fast and while more hit than miss you can usually be sure that if you laugh at something the exact same joke will be re-used a little later. Like the game, we open with an attack of zombies and are soon introduced to the two main characters, Nate and Patrice. I'm still not entirely sure why Patrice was in Nate's treehouse but the two meet and zombies are out for brains. Fortunately Patrice has a crazy uncle who might be able to help.
Crazy Dave, the only on screen human from the game, is shoehorned into the comic as the creator of the plant army. While it's nice to see him, it is a little weird how his speech can go from nonsensical, “urgs,” and, “args,” to coherent exposition and back again for no reason at all.
The 82 pages do fly by at a quick pace but this could also be because there's really not a lot of story here and what there is feels a little incoherent; it not only feels like a collection of individual issues but also like each issue was written by someone new and they only had a brief description of the story so far. A major motivating plot element from early on seems to be forgotten half way through and the resolution is not only incredibly convenient but also a little too abrupt.
The artwork throughout is pretty good. The zombies look like they've walked out of the game and the living humans look like they're visiting from a 90's cartoon. I was a little distracted by the fact that the two children seem to be based on Ben and Gwen Tennison from the Ben 10 cartoon and given their personalities I don't think this was entirely accidental.
As with so many things to do with Plants vz Zombies it would be easy to dismiss this as a cynical and lazy cash-grab and it wouldn't be entirely unreasonable to do so. But there is enough humour here to entertain younger fans of the game and it does have a certain charm that makes me think of Halloween specials. If it weren't for the fact that it comes out a week after Halloween I would say this would be a perfect seasonal read. The digital comics are still available, though, so perhaps it would be better to turn down the lights and give those a read instead. I give it three and a half cartoon zombies (and for those of you who are curious, it's the left half).