Plants vs Zombies first hit in 2011 and has since blown up with a sequel game, a shooter spin-off, toys and a comic series by Dark Horse. Three of their stories have been collected in a Zombox set that was released recently.
Although it’s your yard that you are protecting in Plants vs Zomies, the comics introduce pre-teen heroes Zach Timely and Patrice Blazing as they defend the town of Neighborville with Patrice’s Crazy Uncle Dave (who sells you the various plants in the games)from the various schemes of the evil Zomboss. The first story is sort of an origin story called Lawnmageddon that shows how Patrice and Zach meet and foil an fairly standard zombie invasion with Uncle Dave’s various living plants. The second story, Timepocalypse, finds Zach, Patrice, Dave and the plants travelling through time to collect the scattered piece’s of Zomboss “sun vacuum” which he planned on using to suck the energy from the sun before it exploded across time. The final story, Bully for You, finds Zomboss’ past catching up with him when some old college classmates show up looking for revenge. Of the three, Timepocalypse is the standout, as are most things that involve time travel. There’s some great bits when Patrice and Zach head to the 70’s or the days of Pirates and it has the most clever use of historical plants and zombies and it’s just the most focused and funny of the trio. Lawnmageddon is probably the weakest of the three because it has to setup everything and it’s a little too manic with all the plants vs zombies sequences. All of them are all fun, easy reads and they are definitely aimed for a slightly younger audience. They never quite break out of that younger audience tone though the way some of the best current cartoons like Gravity Falls or Steven Universe or Regular Show do, there’s a few fun references for older readers but it’s mostly slapstick or just generically goofy humor for the most part.
Art wise, all three of the books are fun and full of energy and every panel is jam packed with zombies and plants. Ron Chan provides the art and it reminds me a lot of times, especially in Bully for You, of Rob Guillory’s art for Chew, one of my favorite comic series of recent years. Most of the most fan favorite plants are featured as sidekicks for Patrice and Zach and it always feels like they are moving through the streets of Neighborville or through time at a breakneck speed. As previously mentioned, Paul Tobin’s script is fun and perfect for younger readers but it lacks that extra edge that would make it appeal to older readers just as much.
If you have a kid in your life who is a fan of Plants vs Zombies, this box set is the perfect way to expand their fandom and maybe get them into comics if they are not already. If you are an adult fan of Plants vs Zombies, this collection is still fun but just be aware you are not the target audience and there isn’t that extra “je na sais qua” that will make them transcend their younger tone.