I walked into Dan Mendoza’s Zombie Tramp expecting a trash book that was just going to be a softcore horror T&A book. However after reading almost the entire run I was floored at how great this comic is. Once I got past the shock of the nudity and graphic violence I was awed by all the heart, soul and substance in this comic.
Zombie Tramp’s title and premise may be off-putting to the prudish, but man, this is a great comic. Mendoza gives us a heroine that is rich and multidimensional in Janey Belle, a woman who I believe could give Marvel’s Bruce Banner a run for his money as a tragic figure. Growing up in a trailer park she’s had the roughest of rough lives. When she’s set up by her transsexual pimp she turns into a zombie. Becoming one of the streetwalking dead, she roams the highways looking for her next meal and making efforts to keep whatever semblance of her humanity.
After reading the first issue at the library I was HOOKED. This comic was so good I literally blitzed through most of the run in a week, and I’m eager to read more. Some of the stories are dark fun like the issues where she metes out justice on Ku Klux Klansmen (REALLY enjoyed watching her make light work of those bastards) and others really touching like the Valentine’s Day Special, the 2015 Halloween Special, and the storyline where she tries to break her father out of jail. What I like most is that Mendoza gives Janey a story on the same level of the guys like Marvel’s Bruce Banner and pulls no punches in her dark and tragic tales. She goes through so much pain, loss and suffers as she grows throughout the overreaching arc of the Zombie Tramp series, you can hear the lonely man piano playing from the old 1970s Incredible Hulk TV show playing in the background at the end of each story arc.
Yeah, there’s a lot of soft nudity, horror movie violence and gore in this series, but the storytelling is so well done you just don’t care about it. Instead you’re drawn into the story. Mendoza’s characters have a heart and a soul so you don’t see them as monsters, you see them as people. And you see some very thought provoking things as related to the human condition.
After reading most of the run of Zombie Tramp I ask myself: Why isn’t Dan Mendoza writing The Incredible Hulk? Janey Belle reminds me so much of the John Buscema era of the Incredible Hulk, a wandering antihero who metes out rough justice on those who do evil on her journeys while she tries to deal with the monster she’s become. A woman who wonders if there’s any semblance of humanity left in her after participating in so many horrific acts of violence and dealing with the lowest forms of life. Seriously, if Marvel gave us a run of Hulk Comics with the storytelling Zombie Tramp does, the book would have the sales of the Buscema days. Man, this book BLOWS THE DOORS off anything Marvel has produced in the last two decades!
Everyone who writes heroines needs to take notes, Mendoza gives you a clinic on how to write strong heroines with Zombie Tramp. Again, he pulls no punches in his stories and he puts Janey Belle through a complete character transformation arc. Unilike heroines at Marvel and DC she isn’t set up against jobbers. No, she takes on serious threats and major challenges and deals with all the pain and loss that male heroes do. Everything Mariko Tamaki said wanted to do with her horrible (She)Hulk run in 2017 Dan Mendoza did with Zombie Tramp in 2014.
Dan Mendoza’s Zombie Tramp is a must read for any comic fan out there. With all the adult content, this definitely isn’t a comic for kids. However for those mature readers out there this is a series you can’t miss. This series gets my highest recommendation; You must pick this one up in singles or trade!