Steam punk is a nice little genre that has a place in many people’s hearts. The zombie genre also does that. Jai Nitz decided to put them together in his graphic novel “Toshiro.” It’s too bad the comic has very little steam to it.
In a steam punk 19th century Manchester, England mechanical man Toshiro and famous American adventurer Robert Fulton IV (Quicksilver Bob) investigate an attack by a mysterious group called “Jellyfish.” What they find is most of the inhabitants have been turned into zombies.
One interesting thing here is that the zombies can think, talk and use weapons. Basically, as the comic describes it, they were made to remember what they in while alive. This is a nice change of pace from the mindless, moaning zombies that appear in every single zombie story ever written.
Unfortunately, the story falters in a few ways. Steam punk is a genre with many possibilities for great story telling. A steam punk zombie story could be interesting if done properly. “Toshiro” falls into the uninteresting side. It is a very basic zombie story that is thankfully isolated into one spot instead of an entire city. It also falls into zombie story writing 101. Zombies come out of nowhere, attack, characters fight zombies and then win the day.
The titular character seems to be more of a background character than a main lead. Bob has more importance to the plot, does a lot more and is more interesting. Toshiro just stands there, asks questions during exposition and narrates. He has very little bearing on what happens. He can be written out and with some scene changes the story won’t suffer any major changes.
The art by Janusz Pawlak has a nice style to it. It can be compared to “From Hell” if it was in color and had more detail. The zombie designs have a lot more originality than the typical zombie in that they don’t look like rotting corpses come to life. They look like normal humans with purple eyes and they move more like humans. Some of the minor characters look more like stock characters than original characters, though.
“Toshiro” is a mediocre story with some brilliant ideas that fall flat. The art does match the tone and Quicksilver Bob is interesting, but in all it reads like something you’d finish on the plane and then forget about it minutes later.