The Retreat #1: Pandemic review

The Retreat #1: Pandemic - Craig DiLouie, Joe McKinney, Stephen Knight

Recently there was a series of graphic novels that totally emphasised the "graphic" part of that term entitled Crossed, Vol. 1. It was originally conceived and written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Jacen Borrows. In it, an infection did the rounds turning people into maniacs who killed and slaughtered indiscriminately, and who even seemed to enjoy being tortured, mutilated and killed themselves. The infected all had a wound which opened on their faces in the shape of a cross running both ways over their noses.

The Retreat #1: Pandemic by Craig DiLouie with assistance from Stephen Knight and Joe McKinney could have been set in the same world if the magically appearing face wounds had also been included. Because, otherwise, the people who have been turned in The Retreat, dubbed "Klowns" behave in exactly the same way as Ennis' Crossed maniacs.

So as well-written, engaging and tension-filled as DiLouie et al's first book in this series is, I could not help but feel I'd been there and done it all before. Sure, writing the book from the POV of various personal in the army who are fighting to keep the infected from overwhelming Boston was different. But not sufficiently so as to allow me to forget that every scene featuring the Klowns felt exactly like a scene lifted from Crossed.

With that major gripe out of the way, I thoroughly recommend picking up The Retreat #1: Pandemic. DiLouie keeps things moving at a breakneck pace, utilises short chapters to assist with this, and is not afraid to bump any number of major characters - all massive positives for me. Some may balk at the level of technical detail on display, but unlike say, his earlier work Tooth and Nail, The Retreat never gets bogged down in this, and the reader is simply able to accept the fact the author clearly knows his stuff, either having served himself or done a ludicrous amount of research into what soldiers experience in and around combat situations.

Entertaining, fast-paced and ruthless, DiLouie's introduction to The Retreat series is a must for fans of military horror and those who enjoy watching an apocalypse unfold. Just don't expect something entirely fresh and original.

3.5 Maniacs Laughing Manically for The Retreat #1: Pandemic.