Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Emily Pearson
Publisher: Black Mask
I’ll be the first person to admit that I’ve been burned out on the post-apocalyptic zombie genre. Due to the sudden outbreak of zombie and zombie related titles, I would audibly groan whenever I saw a new one being released. I thought that my days of reading and enjoying a comic about survivors of some zombie plague were over. But I was wrong, and The Wilds proved that I could read a new story without just reading the usual tropes and guessing the predictable outcomes. The floral apocalypse of Vita Ayala and Emily Pearson is a breath of fresh air.
What The Wilds pulls off is nothing short of a miracle. Unlike many stories, The Wilds tackles what it means to survive in a world where another day isn’t promised, especially for those who risk everything. Daisy is a runner, a guide who travels back and forth from settlements to bring supplies. Alliances are crucial as food, tools, and medicine are running low. Runners need to be quick and resourceful, especially when encountering Abominations, the infected creatures that surround them on all sides.
The Wilds tackles the issues of marginalized communities in times of uncertainty. The people who end up risking the most are the people with the most to lose. Times of crisis often disproportionately affect people of color and this story doesn’t make light of that fact. Daisy, Heather, and the rest of their chosen family are faced with tough choices that could mean certain death or harm to their loved ones. When Heather is captured and taken by the medical commune for research, Daisy will need to risk everything to reach her. Will the community that has already lost so much be able to come together and find help in those who have already harmed them? The real enemy may not be the Abominations, but the people who are trying to find a cure.
Vita Ayala’s take on the classic zombie survival tale is one that never leaves it’s humanity behind and Emily Pearson’s art is simply hypnotic, especially when drenched with the colors of Marissa Louise and Stelladia. It may be a long time before I’m captivated by another post-apocalyptic zombie survival tale, but at least I can be haunted by this one for a while.