The name George A. Romero is synonymous with the zombie genre. If you haven't yet seen the original film version of Dawn of the Dead, then you are really missing out. It's an absolute classic. In any case, once I learned that Romero had been involved in a comic series, I had to check it out.
"Toe Tags" is a 6 issue mini-series issued by DC Comics, also referred to as "The Death of Death". It was first released in late 2004, no doubt to capitalise on the success of the Dawn of the Dead remake that was also released that year. "Toe Tags" is based on an unused script Romero had written previously as a potential sequel to his "Dead Trilogy".
"Toe Tags" follows Damien Cross, who appears to be one of the few survivors of the zombie plague that has struck down the globe. His girlfriend Judy, has also survived, however the two are holed up in different buildings. Judy is the Lara Croft/Alice character, handy with a pump action shot gun, and hot looking. Fortunately for Judy, Damien has a pet elephant. Apparently a highly trained elephant at that. Mr Tembo, as the elephant is called, is sent on a rescue mission to find Judy and bring her back to Damien. It would seem that Mr Tembo is a kick ass elephant, because before you can shout "Dumbo" three times, Judy is safe and sound, yet slightly shocked. Damien is not the man she'd left behind. He's now a zombie, but he's also undead with a difference. Thanks to his eccentric zoologist friend, Damien was administered an experimental serum, that has allowed him to retain both his free will, and his memories. In other words, besides the rotting flesh, he's basically the same guy. Apparently the serum also stops him from stumbling around muttering "brains... braiiiiiiinnnssss..."
From there, Damien and Judy hit the road on the back of Mr Teembo. The story takes on a survivalist mentality. With Damien and Judy on the run from both the Undead, and the living, who are hell bent on obtaining the secrets to the serum. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but this mini-series is mostly an excuse for the artist to draw as many exploding skulls as possible.
"Toe Tags" is really Damien's story, and follows his struggle to reconcile the 'old' Damien, with the new. He remembers his former life, but struggles with determining who he is, and who's side he should be on. He's sympathetic to both the living and the undead. So essentially he exists as a walking, talking, rotting and conflicted emo guy.
What did I learn?
Never turn your back on an elephant.
"Toe Tags" is worth reading if you're interested in exploring the "Dead" universe further, but as a stand alone story, it's not all that strong.
You've got to love a good zombie saga! I have the first three hard cover collections of the Walking Dead series, and I intend to start those very soon. From what I've seen so far, having been unable to resist a quick flick through, I'm impressed!