Broxo by Zach Giallongo: Review

You know Halloween’s on its way when your run-of-the-mill barbarian tribe graphic novel suddenly comes complete with a host of zombies instead of merely the standard buxom paleo-witch, although she’s here, too. But does a mix of YA, Walking Dead, and Conan the Barbarian actually work? Well… Kind of.

Broxo

by Zack Giallongo

Broxo cover artIn this wildly entertaining fantasy debut we meet Broxo, the only surviving member of a tribe of barbarians who once occupied a now-desolate mountain. All alone in the world, Broxo spends his time on the mountain hunting and avoiding the man-eating walking dead that periodically drag themselves out of a fetid lake.
 
Everything changes when Zora, a foreign princess, arrives on the mountain seeking Broxo’s lost tribe. Can the two young warriors together defeat the living dead? 
 
I enjoyed Broxo’s setting, a barbarian wasteland inhabited by monsters of both friendly and ferocious persuasions. The art is beautiful, from Broxo’s ramshackle house to the muted landscape. Some elements are interesting, such as the backstory of the eerie witch Ulith and the haunting by Broxo’s grandmother, and Broxo himself is a likeable and humorous character.

Overall, however, the story is something of a letdown. My biggest issue: the zombies. I admit it, I’m tired of zombies. Zombies are a one-trick pony. They lurch around trying to eat everyone and need constant dispatching. All of the interest in a zombie story must come not from the zombies, but from the living characters and their interactions as they attempt to survive.  In this case, the zombies simply don’t seem to fit with the rest of the story. Broxo’s background, the tale of Ulith, and the other dangers on Broxo’s mountain are far more compelling, and sometimes I felt as though the zombies were added in as an afterthought to spice up a story that has little other action. I would have liked to see more development of Ulith and of Broxo’s past.

I also found Zora, the heroine, problematic. She’s so snotty and whiny that she never gained my sympathy, and I could not understand Broxo’s attachment to her.

I think younger readers who like zombie tales might enjoy this read, but it’s a bit flawed for an adult audience.

Broxo is brought to us by First Second Books, the same company who published Mark Long’s awesome The Silence of Our Friends. I’ve read and loved a few of their other titles, so hopefully Broxo‘s failure to charm me is a one-off.

Overall Rating: 3 of 5

Pub stub: First Second, $16.99 trade paper, October 2, 2012

I received a copy of Broxo from Netgalley. No money changed hands in the course of this review.

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