Despite the earlier fears, Jim Campbell’s third installment in his”At The Shore” series manages to continue the wonderful tale of familiar personas in a peculiar world.
Picking up from the end of the last issue, Marianne “Gabi” Muller and the rest of the gang head out to meet the mysterious “Professor”. This time, Gabi starts her story “at the beginning” and we meet her father, seaweed miner Johannes, properly.
Yes, that’s right, though it was mentioned in earlier issues, in this issue it is confirmed that the reason Johannes wore a scuba suit is that he works as a seaweed miner. A mighty fine one too, as not even an approaching Loch Ness Monster can distract Johannes from the job. Only instead of giving the beast $3.50, he gives it a smack in the face with his seaweed grabber! Awesome, right? Oh yeah, turns out Loch Ness Monsters (“Nessies”) are pretty common in this world, after having had long been being extremely endangered and protected by a population control law.
Anyway, the story continues as we meet Professor Thorston, a friend of Johannes who is also a chemist/marine biologist of some sort. The two are established fairly early on in the book as being good friends, as Thorston continually gives Johannes rides to work in order to afford him some (read: 10 minutes) extra sleep before Thorston attempts to tell him something strange involving “the fish”. Before the Professor can explain though, Johannes always zips out to get to work.
However, all of that changes one day as the Muller family is out at the shore, Gabi drawing the Nessies she and her brother see while Karin and Johannes walk along the beach. As they’re walking, Johannes sees a coworker of his, Dan, standing on a cliff-side and missing an arm. Johannes is surprised as, in addition to the missing arm, Dan has been missing for some time. As Johannes tries to talk to him, the mindless Dan attacks. A struggle ensues which ends with Dan falling off the cliff. Deciding to call the Professor, Johannes is stunned to discover that Dan was already dead when he attacked his coworker. Yup, that’s right, Dan was one of the beach zombies.
Well, it turns out that whatever company Johannes and Thorston work for have been experimenting with some strange chemicals. Giving an example with a fish left out of water for some time, only to seemingly appear live and well (and vicious) when it’s put back in water, Thorston demonstrates the zombification process, beginning with suffocation: Dan not being able to breathe underwater, the fish not being able to breathe out of water.
As the Professor puts it, this creates, “the perfect circumstances for our new chemical’s unexpected side effect: the spontaneous renewal of life in recently dead organisms and cellular life!” -Cue mad scientist laugh here.-
Never mind, Professor. We got one for you.
Video courtesy of ShujuWii.
In addition, Professor Exposition explains that in the presence of bright enough light, the creatures die again. Instead of informing the police, the government, or Mad Scientist Monthly, Thorston decides to keep it quiet, fearing that the government may interfere, putting him out of a job, but more so out of fear of causing a great loss to his field. As such, Johannes decides to agree to keep Thorston’s work a secret for the next few years, giving the Professor time to perfect the chemical without creating mindless, flesh-eating zombies.
The flashback ends as Gabi reveals the reason her parents discouraged the shore and kept them in fear was for their protection. Dean, being his usual self, only asks why, if he’s a scientist of some sort is he called “Professor”? Bernard speculates that maybe he used to teach. Gabi, having put aside some of her shyness, promptly yells at the two to keep focus on what’s important: that the Professor may have a solution for the sea zombie problem. Does he?
You’ll have to find out next time.
Though this issue is good, there isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said. As you probably guessed, pretty much the entirety of “At The Shore 3” is a flashback issue, giving some insight as to the nature of Gabi’s maritime family, her own interest in art, and the sea zombie problem. There isn’t much room for main character development, beyond a brief flash of confidence from Gabi at the end. What is interesting, however, is the art style. Rather than the bizarre, detailed, and colorful artwork used in the previous issues, the flashbacks (and most of this issue) are drawn in a style which resembles a cross between 1950’s pop art and Scooby-Doo character designs. The colors all serve to remind of the nautical theme of Gabi’s history, and the whole issue does an excellent job at portraying an atmosphere of familiar (though somewhat eccentric) people thrown into peculiar circumstances. As always, Angry Jim manages to keep readers entertained with a mix of dark humor and interesting characters.
One thing, though, Professor Thorston…I can’t help but feel I’ve seen him somewhere before?
“I’ll take Uncanny Resemblances for 200, Professor.”
Photo courtesy of Celebuzz.
Eh, it’s probably nothing.