Warren Ellis does zombies! ...and the results play out like a prototype for “Crossed.” Does Garth Ennis have to pay him royalties, or buy him pints whenever they go out drinking? Who knows. Anyway, I bring up the “Crossed” comparison because the “zombies” here aren’t really the living dead, but people who have had their “civilizing” mental functions stripped away after a mountain cracks open and releases the titular substance. The end result has lovers and students Tyler and Soo fighting through an island filled with people who want to rape them, kill them and eat them -- not necessarily in that order. For the first half of the book, it plays out like a tightly constructed B-movie that benefits greatly from the claustrophobic nature of its small-town island setting. Ellis’ snappy dialogue and propulsive pace make the events play out like a nightmare thrill ride, and even though there’s an awkwardness to some of his characters, Max Fiumara’s art conveys the franticness of the situation well.
Then we get to the second half of the book and things promptly fall right apart. Where the story was once a small-scale story of survival, things blow up into a national disaster and Ellis simply doesn’t have the time or inclination to adapt to this new setup. You get the feeling that he went, “Now where can I go from here? Oh, I know! I’ll blow up the scale of it all! Just have Soo do this here, and... bollocks. That was a mistake.” There’s a real feeling in the final chapter, that he just threw up his hands and bashed something out as best he could since the audience isn’t really left with a reason to care about what happens next. “Blackgas” is half of a decent comic and one ultimately best suited to the bargain bin I found it in. Another title best suited for Ellis completists.