I Am a Hero Omnibus Vol 1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Kenzo Hanzawa
Artist: Kenzo Hanzawa
Cover: Kenzo Hanzawa
Zombies. Unless you’ve been living in a complete media blackout you’re probably on zombie overload right now. Oversaturation of zombies to the horror genre and the lack of originality in how to use them has practically ruined their ability to induce fear in all but the scary of individuals. Luckily, for those who enjoy zombies there are still some storytellers that can create an experience that while living in familiar territory can still get your heart beating and keep you wanting more.
I Am a Hero follows the life of Hideo Suzuki (whose name literally translates to Hero in Japanese), a 35 year old struggling manga artist who spends most of his time living in a cloud of self-loathing and insecurity. He often talks to himself and has developed an imaginary friend which serves to bolster his spirits and listen to his problems. Having once temporarily found success as a Manga writer and artist he longs to find that success again. However, his creations often mirror his own reality as he feels like the side character in his own life story.
The art style for I Am A Hero was pretty realistic for a manga book. Hideo Suzuki is drawn as a man of average build with a disheveled appearance and the beginning a of a beer belly. Usually the characters have a very pretty, slim, modelesque look to them but this title shies away from that esthetic sometimes going so far as downright grotesque. For a story set in the horror genre this works to perfect effect and I didn’t immediately realize how well this approach would effect me as a reader until the outbreak began. The last thing I, as a reader, would believe is pretty zombies.
The zombies themselves are disturbing to look at. From their veiny bodies, to the torn limbs and bloodshot eyes. This is where the book really shines. The zombies of I Am a Hero aren’t the shambling easily avoided but dangerous in large numbers type. These are the 28 days later style aggressive zombies that relentlessly chase their prey at a run with wild abandon and superhuman strength. The most interesting thing though is that they seem to be able to remember things and even act with some intelligence. A particular scene with Hideo coming face to face with the outbreak for the first time caused me to forget what I was doing and relentlessly turn the pages to see what happened next.
I Am a Hero manages to take a fairly fresh spin on the zombie horror genre. Which made me think back to a time when zombies were actually scary. I Am a Hero starts off slowly and gives you a chance to get to know the characters that you’ll be following but once things get going and the apocalypse takes off the book takes a huge leap forward in pace. That could be a gift and a curse as I wasn’t particularly fond of Hideo in the beginning. However, I believe that Vol. 1 is the foundation for a character evolution to take place over the following volumes of the story and I honestly look forward to seeing him become the strongest Hideo he can be…or die trying.