Retrovirus is a one-shot graphic novel from Image. It’s a pretty complex story about a very deadly virus. Throw in some what they call ‘Neanderthals,’ we have a pretty in-depth and brutal story. People looking for a scientific fantasy with action and a pretty cool main character will get a kick out of it. In seventy-three pages we have a very well established story and main character the reader can like. It’s a pretty decent read all around.
Here’s the official description from Image:
When Zoe, a brilliant young scientist who specializes in identifying extinct viruses, is offered a job at a remote research facility in Antarctica, she soon discovers her employer has unearthed a perfectly preserved Neanderthal. That is only one of the many dark secrets lurking at the facility as Zoe races against time to stop a global pandemic. In the vein of Andromeda Strain, Altered States and Jurassic Park, RETROVIRUS seamlessly blends human drama, action, science fiction and horror in a 64 page graphic novel written by JIMMY PALMIOTTI & JUSTIN GRAY (QUEEN CRAB, JONAH HEX, CREATOR-OWNED HEROES) and illustrated by NORBERTO FERNANDEZ (THE TATTERED MAN).
It starts out 30,000 years ago with a bunch of ‘Neanderthals’ battling among themselves. Cut to 2012 where we see our main character Zoe on the phone with her boyfriend (or husband?) whom is pretty sick. The writing is very good, it succeeds from the start in establishing the type of character Zoe is. Soon she arrives at her conference meeting to talk about the Retrovirus. Soon she talks with these business men, and they give her their contact info. Once she calls them and heads to the facility, that is where things get interesting. First off, the thought of cloning a Neanderthal was a pretty good one, add in the fact human DNA was spliced in, we have mindless thinking creatures. (That probably doesn’t make sense, but you get it.) The other people in the facility are established pretty well, at least they’re genuine, such as the scene where Zoe reveals she’s pregnant while having the Retrovirus and Marcus’ response to that. Ottati is a pretty standard “I don’t care about human life and want to sell this virus to the highest bidder!” antagonist, not awful, but nothing special. Conri is well-established, as is the romance between him and Zoe. The dialogue between them on the camera for the first time was good, and the ending with them was a nice touch.
Norberto Fernandez’s art is definitely a highlight, he can draw some pretty brutal stuff. (Intestines and heads will fly.) The cover I really like by Amanda Conner, It’s extremely simplistic, showing Zoe up in front on top of a white background with some Neanderthals in the background covered in blue. The needle with the dripping blood was a nice touch. Sometimes covers don’t have to be really explosive and dynamic, this is proof of that. My favorite line from the book and which pretty much sums up the story is when Zoe tells Ottati “I guess you haven’t seen Jurassic Park.” Indeed, this is another story of why you shouldn’t tamper with creation and clone it! Once the Neanderthals escape from their prison is when the book becomes a slaughterhouse. So don’t go in thinking this will just be book filled with words, there’s plenty of ax-slashing.
Overall, Retrovirus is done like a movie. It starts out with a pretty exciting prologue, establishes the main character, gets her in the main setting, then the story-changing plot twist which leads to the action. Everything is pretty well contained in the seventy three pages, and for $13, it’s a pretty solid deal.