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Anthrax - 'Among The Living' Graphic Novel Review

It's crazy to think that Anthrax have been around now for forty years. There's been so much change in the world of music in that time, changes that have reflected in the band themselves, but here we are. Four centuries on and they're still making the kind of music that they're known for while still being relevant.

Recently the band have teamed up with the publishing company Z2 who have become known for their releases based on bands and classic albums. Some would say it's a niche pairing but their recent output of work focusing on The Doors and YUNGBLUD have been a hit with audiences.

Working together the team are focusing on Anthrax's seminal thrash album "Among The Living" that turns thirty five next March. The nine track album is broken into nine chapters in the graphic novel, each one by a different writing and art team. After a brief opener "The Not Man Cometh" the title track/chapter drops which takes insulating from Stephen King's grand apocalyptic opus "The Stand". Comedian and actor Brian Posen pens the tale here of a young metalhead listening to the song as images from King's book illustrate his thoughts. From there we're "Caught In A Mosh", written by My Chemical Romance's frontman Gerald Way and bassist Mikey Way, both of whom have previous comic writing experience with DC and Dark Horse (where Gerald created the hit series "The Umbrella Academy").

A third of the way in and we meet up with Anthrax's first real comic collaboration. "I Am The Law" focuses on the character of Judge Dredd from the long running British comic 2000AD. Here, the band's Scott Ian writes a tale featuring Dredd battling a new street drug ZOM-B, created by his arch nemesis the Dark Judges. On the strength of this if Scott Ian ever decides to hang up his thrashing boots he could very easily side step into a career writing comic books as he capturesthe feel of classic Dredd perfectly.

"Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" features a story of a third rate comedian who makes a deal with the devil for fame and fortune. This is followed by "A Skeleton In The Closet", a creepy psychological tale from the mind of Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor.

In the mind of comic legend Grant Morrison, "Indians" becomes science fiction tale of hunters while "One World" becomes a tale of monotony by 'Thrax's bass beast Frankie Bello. "A.D.I./Horror Of It All" centres around a lone space pilot in a machine's body while Rob Zombie wraps it all up with a surreal "Imitation Of Life", a crazy take on fifties and sixties pop culture (think "Mars Attacks" on cheap drugs).

Each chapter is around a dozen pages or so and is illustrated by a different artist. It feels cohesive and sits well together. The individual stories are well written and constructed. The only one that for me jarred with the overall tone is the Rob Zombie one. It's okay but feels too close to pastiche at times.

It's a nice way to celebrate the album and with the talent involved it's not a cash in. The look and feel of the graphic novel is similar to the many others I have in my collection. It's a good way to get interested in something new (I know a few friends who've said that this will be their first graphic novel) so it works as a great introduction to the medium for anyone who's unsure; comics, like Anthrax, have come on so much in the last forty years. There's enough here to keep you interested in multiple reads while embellishing the stories from the album. Scott Ian and Corey Taylor show they both have talent and experience of the medium (Taylor's tale is the standout for me), they go from being fans to writers without a misstep.

Overall, "Among The Living" is perfect for a summer read while establishing that Z2 have a unique styling point to engage with artists and fans like, assuring them of a quality product that is not a cheap cash in.

Review - Scott Hamilton


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