The Tao of Zed

Jeff Marsick and Kirk Manley have truly mastered one of the great principles of storytelling: take two completely different concepts and bring them together in a way that sheds new light on both. Zombie Girl and the Four Tigers is an interesting mashup of zombie apocalypse and eastern philosophy. Centuries before the common era, the philosopher Lao-Tzu assembled a team of brilliant, powerful fighters. At their center is Zombie Girl, an ancient undead whose flesh craving is held at bay with a concoction of fragrant herbs.
By her side are four tiger spirits, human embodiments of the four elements and the four seasons. The Black Tiger is the oldest and master of winter and water. The magical Blue Tiger is master over spring and earth, and the White Tiger is master over autumn and metals. The Red Tiger is master of summer and fire, and she has a deep connection with Z-Girl that the others don’t. When one of the tigers dies, his or her spirit searches for a new host immediately to rejoin the team, which can be disorienting for the chosen host. As the current tale opens, the Red Tiger is still finding herself.
Down through the centuries these four spirits reincarnate over and over to join forces with Zombie Girl to combat evil spirits, wizards, vampires, and other monstrous shenanigans. In the present-day story, they are tracking down fragments of a valuable tablet that may foretell the end of the world. But in the wrong hands, this tablet may bring it about.
I had a great time reading this comic. As with most comic book sheroes, Z-Girl’s costume leaves little to the imagination, but in this case it actually makes sense. Being dead already, she doesn’t have to fuss about getting shot or stabbed, and the scanty clothing allows for much freedom of movement. Her face is strong-featured, and her figure is muscular and in realistic proportions. As a feminist, details like this mean a lot to me.
Tao is an Eastern philosophy that simply means “the way.” It is a very abstract principle, unlike most religions that have a clearly defined structure and belief system. In this spirit, the theme of Zombie Girl and the Four Tigers is appropriately vague and abstract. Individual readers will have to decide for themselves what the underlying message is.
Or just kick back and enjoy a bunch of monsters getting their butts whooped by a machete-wielding she-zombie in a bandolier bra. Either way, you’re guaranteed a good time.
The Z-Girl team recently appeared at NYCC, and they had a great time connecting with fans. In 2014 they will appear at the SDCC with Issue Five. Later in the year they will be back at the NYCC with Issue Five, a trade collection of the first series, and “hopefully #1 of the next story arc!” I for one can’t wait to see what Zombie Girl kills next.

The newest installment of Z-Girl's adventures.

The newest installment of Z-Girl’s adventures.

A proud display of Zombie Girl's adventures so far.

A proud display of Zombie Girl’s adventures so far.