Trade Secrets – PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: LAWNMAGEDDON

plants-vs-zombies-lawnmageddon-cover

There are zombies on your lawn, and only two kids, a crazy man, and their army of vegetables can turn the undead horde. Adapting the beloved Game Of The Year winner to print and panels, PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: LAWNMAGEDDON shows what happens when suspiciously bloodless walking corpses take on the fruits of the Earth and mad science.

In 2009, a game was released to the PC by PopCap Games, developer behind titles like Bejeweled and Peggle. The game was called Plants Vs. Zombies, where one plays as a homeowner with an inexplicable array of smiling, weaponized plants. There are zombies on one’s lawn, and one does not like zombies on one’s lawn. Plants Vs. Zombies became a runaway success, and has since been ported and updated to as many devices and consoles as possible. It even received a Free-To-Play sequel, Plants Vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time.

I’ll spoil that as much as I will about the recently released film About Time: it’s literally about time travel.

Given the game’s massive success and the enormous marketability of the property, it’s no wonder the franchise would be adapted to comics. Hence, Dark Horse published a comic of the same name through digital download. When that made money, Dark Horse took it to print as single issues. And now the publisher took the liberty of collecting it in a hardcover trade.

PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: LAWNMAGEDDON takes the fight around town, not content to simply hang around one person’s property. It’s also not starring a nebulous battle gardener, but rather two children: Nate Timely, aspiring adventurer/writer/cowboy/astronaut, and Patrice Blazing, eccentric niece to her even more eccentric uncle Dave. Or as he’s known to the rest of the town and fans of the games, Crazy Dave.

Shortly after meeting, the two tikes are assaulted by the brain-hungry “fun-dead” that have invaded the city of Neighborville. Having no superpowered kindergardeners to aid them, Nate and Patrice must make do with a regular gardener. Or rather the absolutely not regular Crazy Dave, who developed a cadre of offensive vegetables and seeded them through the town. Now they must steel themselves and use their chlorophyl-producing soldiers to repel the zombies, lest their gray matter be feasted upon.

Let it be stated first that PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: LAWNMAGEDDON is fun. Pure, unadulterated fun. It is humorous, staffed by quirky characters, and filled with gore-less zombie-killing action. And explosions. If that’s not a qualifier for fun, I need to bone up on my Spongebob Squarepants, because I apparently don’t know what fun is.

Paul Tobin provides the script for this outing, and he does a good job. It’s an all ages book, so we’re certainly not going to see the melodramatic cliches common in films like 28 Days Later or Dawn of the Dead (fun fact: “Lawn of the Dead” was meant to be the original game title, before legal issues necessitated the change). No, this is a comic about plants with exaggerated faces shooting peas and watermelons at walking corpses and causing them to fall apart without viscera, and it knows it. Our characters are likable and distinct, snapping off amusing dialogue.

I think my only qualm is Crazy Dave, a metal pot-wearing maniac who in spite of his eccentricities could at least be understood most of the time in the game. Here his propensity towards inventing words is played up to the point where he rarely speaks for himself, rather needing Patrice to translate his ramblings for him. While this does mean Patrice Blazing (amazing name, by the way) always has something to do and even establishes facets of her own character, it also diminishes the role of the only living human presented in the games. I liked listening to Crazy Dave ramble disjointedly about tacos and bowling with Wall Nuts. Now it’s like there’s a wall (nut) between us and him, and that makes me sad.

But then he constructs a life-size T. Rex robot out of wood, rubber hose, shoe insets, and incendiary grenades. Suddenly the bad feelings just float away.

Ron Chan provides the art details for PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: LAWNMAGEDDON, and one could not have found a more fitting artist. Everything is perfectly reproduced from the game; everything on model. Characters are expressive; even the plants. One wouldn’t think it were possible to give a sunflower expressions, but it happened and I love it. I love too the level of detail on each page. Most every plant and zombie type gets at least a cameo, and most scenes have a crowd mix of several kinds. And most of the more interesting plants and zombies not only show up, but are implemented well. If ever one required an introduction to what Plants Vs. Zombies is, this comic qualifies and succeeds with flying colors.

Alas, no Thriller Zombie. Ever since that enemy was replaced with a generic Disco Zombie, it’s just never been the same.

PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: LAWNMAGEDDON is everything a fan of the games could want, and everything readers of all ages can enjoy. It costs only ten dollars, and I picked up my copy for cheaper at a Walmart. Or one can simply download the individual issues. Either way, a wonderful comic and a great gift for the holidays.

Because really, one can either buy the next installment in whatever generic paranormal teen romance novel is taking up shelf space this week. Or one can buy a comic book where a little girl fights a zombified yeti. Honestly just including a yeti of any kind should have sold this book alone.

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