I had noted in my review of the Zoo TV series that there was very little similarity between the book and the show, at least according to my wife who had read it, but I had the Zoo Graphic Novel laying around and figured, what the heck, While I had no interest in the book, but I could get the feel of the book from the comic, so that’s what I did.
And no, there is virtually no similarity between the TV series and the graphic novel either.
But this is a review of the graphic novel, not the TV series, I did that already, so let’s take a look at Zoo: The Graphic Novel and see what we can take a bite out of.
When animals start attacking humans worldwide, Jackson Oz and his companion, Chloe Tousignant try to figure out what has caused lions and tigers and bears, oh my, to suddenly want to chow down on humanity. But it’s a very slow burn that takes place over many years, as each part of the puzzle falls into place and the political realities must be carefully shaped so that the world might survive this primal threat.
Since I never really talked about it at length in my TV Thursday review, I might as well detail some of the changes here. First off, most of the characters and situations in the TV show were totally absent from the graphic novel (and I’ll just assume the book as well). There was no Raiden Corp. There was no Jamie Campbell, reporter character. There was no Mitch Morgan, geneticist character. There was no Mother Cell. Abraham existed but he was white and he died early on. Oz existed but his father didn’t figure into the plot much at all. Chloe exists but she wasn’t a secret agent for the French government, she was an ecologist. In fact, she and Oz fell in love, got married and had a son in the graphic novel. There was no conspiracy sub-plot, there was no team of scientists flying around the world looking for answers, Oz figured it out pretty easily, albeit in distinct chunks over time, it was cell phones and petrochemicals that caused the animals to attack people. There was no “defiant eye”. The stories have virtually nothing to do with each other.
That doesn’t mean both aren’t good in their own way though. What works in a book or in a graphic novel don’t necessarily work on TV or on the big screen and vice versa. There is so much here in the comic version that could never have been done on TV, such as massive animal attacks that would have been all expensive CGI. It’s cheap to draw it, expensive to animate.
The black-and-white art, done by Andy MacDonald, who also adapts the story for a graphical format, is quite good. It reminds me of early Walking Dead in a lot of ways. The story though, leaves something to be desired. It meanders. It takes years to happen and they just leap to a new time period without warning. This might be part of the novel, I don’t know, but just going “5 years later” isn’t all that impressive. I also think a lot of powerful characters act pretty stupid. Yes, I understand the President’s daughter got killed by the family dog, but her decision to ignore everything that her scientific advisers were saying, just to napalm parts of Florida, seems a bit silly.
So which is my favorite version? I don’t know. There’s a lot more political intrigue in the book/comic version, things that might have been boring on TV. Chloe and their son, are, for the most part, just baggage, they don’t really do much, they spend their time at home while Oz goes out trying to convince the government what to do. Oz doesn’t really get into a lot of direct danger, something he did constantly in the TV series. Both have their good points and their bad points and even though the book/comic comes off as a anti-technology screed, very much like most of the books Michael Crichton wrote did, the TV series was more of an anti-corporate rant. I’ve got a problem with both but it’s all in the carry through and so long as they don’t whack you over the head with a heavy-handed message, I generally don’t mind.
I understand why the TV series was so different from the book/comic, it just wouldn’t work in that format, but since I can only review what’s actually on the printed page, I have to say that I was a little bored with the pacing of this graphic novel. Some of the solutions were pretty far out there too, they just decided that since the attacks started in 1996 and 1996 was when cell phones started becoming prominent, it must be cell phones to blame! Yeah… stuff like that. It could have been better. It looks great, it just doesn’t flow the way I wish it would have, that’s why I’m giving Zoo, a rating of: