Comics have been good to zombies. From The Walking Dead to Marvel Zombies to George Romero’s Toe Tags, there’s no shortage of options for readers looking to indulge in walking corpses bringing about the apocalypse. The wealth of selections means new stabs at the monster require a good hook, something that sets them apart from the rest. Writer Galaxy and artist Ryan Benjamin are stepping up to carve their own corner in this crowded arena with Almost Dead, a comic that promises to achieve that should it flesh out its most interesting ideas.

Almost Dead follows Sara Walker, a woman who awakes to a zombie-filled reality after taking a nasty spill in an airport bathroom. Taking a beat from Danny Boyles’ 28 Days Later (2002), Sara goes out into the world only to find it has all been shut down by the return of the dead. What’s interesting here is that Galaxy and Benjamin make quick cuts into the past (including pre-colonial history) to give readers snapshots of other times when zombies were walking the Earth. What these brief excursions into the past lead to remains a mystery in issue #1, but they are compelling enough to warrant attention.

Galaxy keeps things brisk on the textual side, going for a sense of pacing that’s closer to a Hollywood blockbuster than an A24 movie. It’s quick to set up the zombie scenario and who its main player will be. On the character side, Sara comes across as a formidable lead, of the kind that zombie stories like to throw into leadership roles so they can grow into them whether they like it or not.

One thing that’s appreciated in this first issue is that it’s quite focused on the one character, Sara. It takes another beat from 28 Days Later in this regard, going for a measured reveal of the post-apocalypse world rather than dropping readers in it and asking them to keep up. It lets everything unravel quite organically, giving a deeper and more intimate look at how quickly the status quo can go from comforting and familiar to alien and hostile.

Benjamin’s art captures this well, matching the script’s epic scope and adding to it by going for big shots of the world buckling under the weight of reanimated corpses. It’s a compelling visual argument for the importance of worldbuilding in zombie stories. Empty roads, abandoned cars, bloodstained walls, and charred houses are essential components in zombie horror, and Benjamin makes sure it’s all there. But then, he makes sure it’s all coupled with a sense of loneliness that makes everything feel dead, an important detail that shows the language of this type of horror is well established. Benjamin delivers on these fronts and promises even more beautiful decay in coming issues.

All that said, issue #1 does function more as a tease for things to come. It doesn’t entirely feel foundational. The past zombie outbreak sequences show promise, but we only get a small taste of it here. Sara’s arc and her motivations are also kept under wraps. A bit more on these elements could’ve given this first chapter more force. As it stands, issue #2 will be critical if it wants to hook readers in for the entirety of its 4-issue run.

Almost Dead is an exercise in potential. It lays the building blocks for what could be an incredibly fresh and exciting new zombie world, but it does so in a very restrained manner. It needs to go for more in the coming issues. There’s something really fascinating with its focus on historical zombies, and it’s one thing I hope we get explore in detail. Ultimately, Almost Dead deserves a read. It’s an easy comic to root for given its promise of a different kind of zombie mayhem.