Comic Review: Jim Campbell’s “At The Shore #4”
The cover for the fourth issue of Jim Campbell's "At The Shore" comic series. Cover courtesy of Comixology.
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Comic Review: Jim Campbell’s “At The Shore #4”

Okay, before I begin the review, let me say this about the fourth issue of “At The Shore”. It is not a bad comic. It’s good. It’s just…not as good as the others. It’s actually better than most comics I’ve read. Okay? So, you can go ahead and put down the pitchforks. Keep the torches though, I’m in the mood for some s’mores.

*Ahem*

Picking up where the last issue left off, Gabi and her merry band arrive at the house of Professor Trebe– I mean Thortson. And by house, I mean a creepy lair. And by creepy lair, I mean it strongly reminds me of the mansion from Clue, just without the butler.

Though to be fair, Tim Curry is the only way this series could get any better.
Video courtesy of Tess H.

Dean seems to share the sentiment, as when Gabi raises the idea of Dean going to knock on the door, he immediately refuses and tells Gabi to “wake him up yer own self”! Gabi does, and is greeted by the completely well-adjusted Professor Thorston, who presents Gabi with a pistol aimed at her face.

Once the Professor realizes who Gabi is, however, he immediately sets the weapon down and after being informed of the threat, invites the group inside.

Professor Thorston then immediately gets Jorge a replacement shirt and heals the young man’s grievous chest wound almost instantly. How? Um…science. The four then discuss the threat. The Professor seems concerned after the group tells him that there was more than one zombie on the loose. Things seem even worse for the Professor as Gabi picks up a newspaper from last week that just happened to be lying on his coffee table which reads “36 Dead in SHIPWRECK”.

So yeah, the situation’s pretty grim. The Professor reluctantly decides that it’s time for “Plan B”. Dean wholeheartedly agrees…and then asks what “Plan B” is.

*SPOILER WARNING!*

The Professor reveals that the chemical he used was originally to clean up the bay and restore the life within it. However, it also has the side effect of restoring lives that are already ended. The Professor had succeeded in developing a chemical antidote, but never used it because “it would negate all the other positive effects.” Gabi is stunned to discover that he has an “anecdote”. The Professor then notes that getting into the plant to release the antidote might be dangerous and leaves for a few minutes.

In that time, Dean, being a jerk, tells Astrid that they should get out of there as Professor Thorston is “crazier than Gabi”. Meanwhile, Bernard, overhearing and being a good friend to Gabi, demands an apology. This leads to a brief fight between the two until Gabi breaks it up when she hears the Professor coming back.

And what does he come back with? It’s the Daily Double!

 And I’ll take “Last Jeopardy Joke” for $1000.
Video courtesy of Alexander Danehy.

No, just kidding. It’s guns. Y’know in case any of the zombies show up while they’re taking off. Jorge offers to accompany the Professor, but Bernard stops him so that Jorge can recover from the attack. Bernard then volunteers both himself and Dean to accompany the Professor. Dean is loathe to go and just about to say something when Astrid compliments his bravery. So yeah, Bernard and Dean.

Gabi volunteers to go as well, but the Professor informs young Marianne (her actual first name), that “this is a man’s job“. He says that, and takes Dean who is ignorant enough to aim a gun straight at Bernard. Gabi calls bull, but little else.

After Bernard gets a warning from Gabi to be careful, and Dean gets a kiss on the cheek from Astrid (who still needs some pants, by the way), the three men take off for the plant. But before that, Gabi asks whether the families and the people in town should be warned or not and whether or not to call the police. The Professor tells them no, informing them with a rather creepy grin that he’s got everything under control. He then shows them a police scanner and some walkie-talkies so that Gabi, Astrid, and Jorge can keep track of what’s going on and contact the others if need be.

And with a final “Be careful”, the issue ends as the Professor, Dean, and Bernard take off for…wait, what? Oh, I guess it’s not quite over yet. Huh.

Gabi goes to the Professor’s phone and calls up her father, informing him of the situation. Though she tries to assure him that the Professor has the situation under control, Johannes attempts to sneak out to go protect Gabi by himself. However, after a brief misunderstanding with his son, Ted, he reveals the truth. Ted, in response, tells him that Karin deserves to be informed…unless of course, Ted can come along.

And so, with a high-five, father and son begin their adventurous journey to Gabi. That is, until they come across a man in distress. Things get even worse when a zombie attacks the man and the two men realize that they forgot to bring the gun. So, Johannes uses a windshield ice-scraper/brush instead….and he wins. Hey, stranger things have worked.

However, more zombies appear, causing Johannes to flip the car over into a ditch. Don’t worry, they’re fine. Johannes looks out to assess the situation and finds more zombies. Fortunately, they don’t see the two. Oh wait, yes they do. Well, how are they going to get out of this?

You’ll have to find out when the next issue comes out.

Yes readers, we are now completely caught up with Jim Campbell’s “At The Shore”. As such, I can’t do any more reviews until Issue 5 comes out. With that said, how does this issue hold up compared to the others?

As it turns out, pretty well…the first half anyway. As always, Angry Jim provides beautiful artwork and superb storytelling. The characters, in the brief time they’re allotted, develop nicely. Gabi demonstrates her bravery and anger at the ignorance of others, Bernard demonstrates his loyalty, and Dean demonstrates that he can be an impulsive, ignorant and insensitive buffoon despite earlier impressions. However, like the last issue, this one puts the main characters aside for the second half to focus on Johannes and Ted. Those two get ten pages! Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but look at it this way. The comic is 26 pages, not counting titles, credits, and such. In ten pages, Johannes and Ted are informed of the situation, plan a response, get some jokes in, face an obstacle, overcome that obstacle, and are left on an (admittedly rather funny) cliffhanger. What do Gabi and her friends get done in the first sixteen pages? They get to the Professor, hear that he’s got an antidote, and then wait for him to get some guns. Oh yeah, and there’s the magic chemical that instantly heals Jorge and is never discussed again. There’s really not much of a sense of accomplishment here, not for the main characters anyway. Last issue was primarily a flashback of Gabi’s, so it got a pass. But here? What reason was there to split it up that way?

However, what the group lacks in accomplishment they (sort of) make up for with subtle development as described above. Jim Campbell does an excellent job setting up an atmosphere of suspense and mixing it with some dark humor. However, that suspense is largely generated by the actions of the Professor and especially Johannes, not the main characters. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a lot less worse than it sounds but for a series that has put forth such superb products before, this issue feels more like a stumble or even a step backwards.

It’s good, it’s far better than most comics I’ve read, but it could have been so much better. But who knows? Like I said, this issue does do an excellent job setting up suspense for the next one. We’ll just have to wait and see whether or not “At The Shore 5” delivers on that. As for me, I’m extremely hopeful. Angry Jim, you’ve created one of the most unique and refreshing comic series I’ve read in a long time. I can’t wait to read more of your work.

“At The Shore 4″ is available for $0.99 on Comixology and is published by Alternative Comics.

If you’ve got a suggestion for the next comic review, leave a comment with the title and publisher.

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Written by Jonathan LLoyd

The strangest normal guy you'll never meet.

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