Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Dead Rising: Road To Fortune (#1-4)

"Time to start drinking more, hey, Frank?" - Frank West

Everyone! It's videogame tie-in time again!  No, wait come back, this has zombies in it!  Everyone likes zombies. Yes, even you madam.  Anyway, I'll let you all into a secret.  I can get a bit obssessive when I game.  And earlier this year I got completely obssessed with Dead Rising 2 and it's "alternative universe" re-release, Dead Rising 2:  Off The Record.  And I played them for weeks, which considering all you do is kill zombies using everything from chainsaws to motorbikes to chainsaws welded to motorbikes, you would think the repetition would get a bit much.  Achievements,  I blame chasing those buggers. Ahem.  This comic is set between the first Dead Rising game which saw an zombie outbreak in a shopping mall being covered by a journalist called Frank West, and it's sequel Dead Rising 2, which saw an outbreak of zombies in a casino being dealt with by a motorcyclist called Chuck Greene who had a zombie infected daughter whose symptoms are kept at bay by a medicine called "Zombrex".  This story focuses mainly on aspects of Frank's faltering career post zombies that would be elaborated on in the non-canon Off The Record, as well as detailing how Chuck's daughter got infected and giving more information on the sinister doings of pharmachutical company, "Phenotrans", who are behind the temporary zombie cure "Zombrex".  To kick things off, as I haven't played the first Dead Rising I'm going to be hugely lazy and quote the comic's quick summary of events in it.

"Frank West, a freelance photographer, is looking for the "scoop of a lifetime" and thinks he found it when he heads to the Willamette Parkview Mall in Willamette, Colorado to cover what he believes to be a riot. The truth, however, is far more horrifying when the riot turns out to be a full scale zombie infestation. With his journalistic instincts overriding his fears, Frank enters the mall and is soon fighting for his very life alongside other humans trapped inside the sprawling complex.  As the zombie threat grows so to does Franks knowledge of who is behind the disaster. - it is a deliberate outbreak caused by Carlito Keys as  revenge for the infestation and ulitmate destruction of of his South American town Santa Cabeza by U.S Special Forces following failed U.S. Government experiments in the area."

Now see I could have been even lazier and scanned that paragraph in. But I typed it with my own fingers just for you.  Now let us crack on with the story proper.
Fancy a bite, Frank?
We join Frank in the middle of a nightmare about the events of the end of the first game.  Trapped in a tank, surrounded by zombies, Carlito's sister Isabela who joined up with him to battle the special forces unit that wiped out her town and was there to wipe out the mall to, to cover things up.  Using heavy weaponry, Frank blasts a path out, but at the last minute a zombie rises up behind him and noms on him and Frank wakes up.

He mumbles about the booze supposedly helping him with the bad dreams and goes to the bathroom cabinet where he injects himself with Zombrex, the anti-zombification drug.  Listening to the radio he hears a report from a Rebecca Chang who is being dispatched to a suspected zombie outbreak.  She reports that military containment is tight and she can't get any information from them about what is happening.
Frank gets serious.
Frank calls his agent, Clay and asks if Rebecca can be a guest on his show.  His agent breaks the news that his show has been cancelled.  He suggests Frank do more informercials to keep the cash coming in.  Frank is not pleased.

Frank: "Dammit, I've got a Pulitzer prize and a New York Times bestselling memoir, man!  I've been in wars zones and survived a full on zombie attack, for Christ's sake!"

His agent says that's as maybe, but conspiracy nuts are old news.  Now it's all reality TV.  Frank bellows down the phone at him that "Terror is reality!"  And hangs up.  This gives Clay an idea for a show and he proposes it over the phone to the unseen "TK."
Chuck Greene and family.
The action then cuts to Chuck Greene and his wife, Pam and daughter, Katey driving to Las Vegas.  His wife is a little worried about reports of zombies in the area but Chuck is confident the military has it all contained.  He is a motocross rider and he is coming to Vegas to take part in a big money event.  He is confident he will win.

Chuck: "And after tonight our lives are gonna change like you won't believe..."

We then move to a town called Coyote Springs where a zombie outbreak is indeed occuring.  The army are slowly but surely wiping the hordes out.  The commander calls in an airstrike to hit the town with.
Rebecca and her driver/pilot spot the explosion from a way off.  She persists in trying to get some information from the soldiers.  A Captain Kilduf comes out to meet her.  He says he isn't going to say "word one" to her so she better skedaddle.  She says they are sweeping zombies under the rug and is it the government or a private company paying them to do so.  She threatens to fly her chopper over the town to see what's happening, Kilduf says in that case he'd have no choice but to shoot her down so go ahead.

Outmanuvered she walks away and gets a call from Frank West.  He wants to meet up.  He says he's been wanting to get back into the field and the cancellation of his show has given him impetus to do so.  They could compare notes on the whole zombie thing.  Meanwhile the zombie rights organisation C.U.R.E has started picketing the military.  Rebecca says they can meet later, she has an appointment with a contact in Fortune City.
The organisation of eeeeeevil.
We then cut to the "Secret Phenotrans Research Facility located somewhere west of Fortune City".  The boss, Director Mallon has a scientist called Curnow bought to her by a huge security guard called Singh, he was trying to get out and take secret information to Rebecca Chang.  Curnow says his conscience drove him to it:

Curnow: "I just couldn't be a part of it anymore.  Turning all those innocent people into zombies... all the deaths.  It... it's just wrong, don't you see?"

Mallon calls him a hypocrite for being a part of it for so long.  She says the need for Zombrex has helped the company grow.  They will continue to release their bees to infect people.  They make zombies and Zombrex, a vicious cycle they profit from.  Singh then breaks Curnow's neck.  Mallon says nothing must stand in the way of "tonight's operation in Las Vegas".

Back with Frank, he and Rebecca are meeting as Curnow stood Rebecca up.  She asks him what happened with Isabela Keyes who escaped the mall outbreak with him.  Frank says Homeland Security picked her up and he never saw her again.  They both think the Keyes are being made scapegoats for something the government might have a hand in, and as Curnow's contact came from Phenotrans she also suspects they have something to do with the zombie outbreaks as well.  They decide to join forces to investigate further.
Rebecca and Frank hypothesise.
In Still Creek, Nevada, Singh throws a canister of bees out of the disguised van he is in and leaves them to do their infectious work.  We then join Chuck in the Las Vegas Arena getting ready for the race.  Pam gives him a good luck kiss and he says "see you at the finish line.  Love ya!"  The race begins and at the back of the arena appears Singh and several masked Phenotras workers, they all have canisters of bees they smash before disappearing.

The bees get to work and soon the whole arena is full of zombies.  Pam has also been stung. Chuck wins the race, but instead of celebration, when he removes his helmet he is greeted by a scene from hell.  Rebecca gets word of what's happening and calls Frank to come join her and investigate.
Not the bees!
Chuck fights his way to his wife and daughter using a variety of improvised weapons like you do in the games themselves.  Unfortunately he is too late for Pam, who transforms into a zombie before his eyes and she bites Katey hard on the arm.  Chuck has to fight her off and strike the killing blow through her brain, much to his distress.  Katey starts to feel bad and as they leave she asks Chuck:

Katey: "What about mommmy?  Isn't she coming too?"

Chuck: "Mommy?  Oh Pam... No Katey.  Mommy is not coming with us."
Zombie Pam gets a lobotomy.
Chuck gets Katey to his van and smushes his way through the zombies.  Rebecca calls Frank who is stuck in traffic with people fleeing Vegas. Rebecca says she is at the head of the que but the military already has the city blockaded.  Frank decides to drive off-road to get to Rebecca quickly.

In Vegas, Chuck drives to a 24 hour pharmacy.  He smashes the van through the front to squish the zombies lurking outside.  Rebecca and Frank contemplate the blockade and how fast it was set-up, "like they were ready for something to happen."  In the pharmacy a hysterical Chuck finds some Zombrex and injects it in a sleepy Katey.  It temporarily does it's work and stops her turning permanently.  She perks up and he gives her a big hug while apologising to her.
Katey is temporarily saved.
Back with Frank and Rebecca the military are still being intransigent.  They swap abuse with Captain Kilgore.  He knew the special forces guy that Frank fought at the end of the first game, and he threatens to cram Frank's camera down his throat if he continues to bad mouth him.  Rebecca and Frank leave and he shows her a mysterious text he got from an unknown source.  It reads:


Frank says he has no idea who it is from.  Rebecca and Jamie set the broadcast van while Frank gets ready to snap some photos.  Rebecca says that if that text message was legit, they just "got their first big break."

Inside Vegas Chuck gets himself and Katey back in his van.  They head for Still Creek, the town that was infected earlier, and where the small prequel game "Case Zero" took place.  Director Mallon listens to Rebecca's broadcast with glee.  The death toll could be as high as a million, and she calls it their "first major harvest".  As she says to Singh, the military aren't asking any questions so "who can stop us?"  And the comic ends.
You can't stop the media!
By the standards to videogame tie-in material this is another pretty good read.  I personally really like the artwork, it has a scruffy, scratchy look I find somehow appealing and really makes the zombies look gruesome.  If you haven't played either of the games, the story would be very much lost on a casual reader.  The job of this comic is to fill in gaps and elaborate on things that were only implied in the games themselves.  It sets up how the "Terror Is Reality" format was come up with, a show run by TK where motorcyclists compete to see who can kill the most zombies unleashed in an arena with their motorbikes.  We also briefly see the zombie rights activists who are a major part of the storyline in both Dead Rising 2 games.  All in all, fun stuff if you have played either or both of the games, but as a stand alone, forget it.


  1. Rebecca Chang and Charlene Chung should team up, i reckon. This looks really good, even though i'm a bit sick to (un) death of zombies at the minute.

    I did find myself wondering if having a character called Curnow might be a nod to '2010', but i'm probably seeing patterns and shit that aren't there. 'Kilgore', though? Bit on the nose and obvious, innit?

    I might get 'TERROR IS REALITY' tattooed on my face. But not really.

  2. I play a lot of games with zombies in them and I think they are so popular because you can murderise them by the hundreds like in Dead Rising without feeling like a sociopath. The script is pure cheese, but reminds me of B movie zombie flicks in that respect so I give it a thumbs up.

    I love the fact the comic writer had to think up an excuse for some Capcom writers slightly wonky English when it came to naming the zombie murderthon "Terror Is Reality" show in both versions of Dead Rising 2.

    Damn, revisiting the game via comics has made me remember the achievements I still haven't got in them. But I have other games that need playing too, she wailed plaintively.

  3. i played dead rising! and dead rising 2 as well! I didnt know they remade DR2 with frank west in it, i'll have to look out for that now for retrogaming zombie killing :) this comic looks cool, good artwork i agree.

  4. I actually liked DR2 Off the Record more than vanilla DR2 although it isn't canon I don't think (don't have a current gen machine so haven't played DR 3..yet). They added a whole new zone to the Casino, changed the villain around and best of all put checkpoints in so I wasn't wasting valuable survivor savin' time running in and out of the toilets. Also they added mini-challenges which I haven't played all of. Damn, I think once I have made some inroads into my unplayed pile, I'll go back for some more zombeh slayings!

  5. I think that zombie stories are about the human fear of physical illness and how it changes people. That's why they creep me out.

  6. It's certainly a big part of what makes a zombie scary. The fact the zombieness is a disease that sufferers feel compelled to spread is scary stuff. This game series is interesting in it posits something I haven't seen before in zombie fiction, a cure that works if you can catch the person between first infection and fully turned. It adds a lot of extra pressure to the game because you have to find Zombrex to keep Katey alive and inject her with it every 24 hours over the three day period the game runs for.

  7. That sounds interesting and imaginative. Why can't she inject herself?

    It's realistic too, because a lot of previously scary things like cancer and AIDS now have drugs to keep them under control or even banish them altogether.

    I just have this... thing about ill people. I find them disgusting and scary. This is very bad, because one day I might have to care for ill people. When that happens I'll have to be brave. (I won't come after them with a shotgun, obviously.)

  8. Well in the game you don't have a stock of Zombrex you have to find it scattered about the zombie filled casino. Also she's quite young and I guess it'd be something she'd learn to do with practice, but the game follows more or less directly on from the events in this comic so she's only been infected maybe a week max.

    Dealing with physical deterioation of a loved one is very hard. But I guess it's just something you get used to. Shotguns are probably not the ideal solution :D