Advance Review: ‘Toe Tag Riot’ #1

Toe Tag Riot - Logo
Cover A by Tristan Jones, with Doug Garbark colors

Cover A by Tristan Jones, with Doug Garbark colors

Writer Matt Miner has not been shy about expressing his views on serious subject matter in the form of comic books, having contributed to the anthology series Occupy Comics, penning his own Liberator series which addressed the horrors of animal cruelty, and currently continuing that story in Critical Hit. Now, after launching a successful Kickstarter along with artist Sean Von Gorman (Pawn Shop, The Secret Adventures of Houdini), the team has put together Toe Tag Riot, which tackles certain forms of intolerance and injustices that plague our society.

Toe Tag Riot follows a punk band of the same name who take down racists, bigots, and homophobes the only way they know how: by eating their brains. Yes, Toe Tag Riot is a band consisting of four members who transform into zombies during their live shows. Band members include Paulie on guitar, gay couple Evie Vee on drums and Annie Maul on bass, and a front-man who goes by the name Dickie (and who bears a striking resemblance to Roger Klotz of Doug fame in certain pages).

This first issue introduces us to the idea that every time Toe Tag Riot become zombies it takes even longer for them to return to their human forms. Along with this curse comes the struggle of wanting to feed on human flesh, which we know will inevitably lead to them deciding to use their hunger for good. We don’t know why they’ve been given this curse yet, but it seems their origins will be addressed in flashbacks as issue one also tells of the band’s original formation.

As the series progresses we will see Toe Tag Riot take down sexists, racists, homophobes, and eventually the Westboro Baptist Church. Obviously when WBC found out what Miner and Von Gorman intended to do to them within the pages of Toe Tag Riot, they replied with a hateful tweet, which ended up being cleverly used as a pull quote for the cover of this first issue.

Cover B by Rod Reis

Cover B by Rod Reis

Unlike Miner’s recent work on Liberator and Critical Hit, which is more serious in tone, Toe Tag Riot provides an even blend of satirical humor and gruesome zombie violence. Additionally, the main characters each have their own unique voices and behaviors that differentiate them from one another. Issue #1 does well introducing each band member.

Sean Von Gorman’s art is comical and vibrant, and fits well with the tone of the series. I found myself loving the many facial expressions from characters, human and zombie alike, especially from front-man Dickie. Von Gorman’s take on zombies is more reminiscent of zombies seen in 80s horror films, rather than the one’s you’d see on AMC today. Of course, a good zombie comic needs to have its fair share of violence, and the final page of Toe Tag Riot #1 serves as a good tease for the horror that is soon to come.

At first glance Toe Tag Riot may appear to be just another zombie comic, but it’s more than that. Matt Miner and Sean Von Gorman are providing a fresh, unique take on the genre and loading it with humor, heart, blood, and gore. I would highly recommend picking up this first issue and checking it out for yourself if you’re a fan of the zombie genre or even punk music in general. Unless of course you are one of the intolerant bigots this book aims to protest against – then this book is probably not for you. For everyone else, you can find Toe Tag Riot #1 from Black Mask Studios in comic book shops Wednesday, November 26.

Purchase Toe Tag Riot #1 and pre-order upcoming issues at MidtownComics.com.