The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

Review of ‘Start of Darkness’

The ZRC picked up a copy of Rich Burlew’s
Start of Darkness
, a prequel story/book to his popular webcomic ‘The Order of the Stick‘, while on a recent trip to the local game store here in Madison to acquire the grey-green dice to play Zombie Cafe.

It was an unrelated purchase at first, but upon reading it, I realized that the ZRC had to stake a position on this book, as it is in fact crammed full of depictions of the Undead.

So, some background. Start of Darkness concerns the origins of Order of the Stick’s two most enduring villains, Redcloak and Xykon. Xykon is himself undead, a lich sorceror. Which is to say he’s a magically animated talking skeleton, and thoroughly evil (or Evil, in Dungeons and Dragons alignment terms). However, he’s the villain, and so being Evil isn’t necessarily a comment on Undead in general; it’s sort of a requirement of the plot. He fits none of the traditional stereotypes of the Undead, perhaps because he’s a special kind, perhaps not. He’s not technically a Zombie, so Xykon is slightly outside our purview to begin with. However, Xykon is a necromancer, which means that he creates other Undead. Specifically, Zombies. This is where the trouble begins.

Start of Darkness is a complicated, engaging read, and Xykon is developed from a very young age into a compelling, even savagely threatening villainous figure. The last two pages of this book are extremely heartfelt and depressing, devastating in fact. I read it all in one go and will confess to being extremely pleased with the story overall, as a member of the general public.

But as a Zombie Rights Campaigner I must ask: did it have to have so many ugly Zombie jokes? Zombies are presented as nothing more than unthinking, unfeeling, brain-devouring machines. In fact, Xykon turns his fallen foes into Zombies to torment their souls after death. He abuses them, uses them as menial labor, and all the while they stand around, uttering the infamous phrase: ‘Brains’

Even for a vicious, amoral, murdering monster like Xykon, this goes too far, good sir. We will not stand idly by and tolerate this retrograde, lifeist, anti-Zombie prejudice.

Thus, the Zombie Rights Campaign has no choice but to roundly condemn this entertaining and well-written graphic novel. Perhaps, in future, Mr. Burlew could devote his considerable talents to a work that advances the cause of Undead Equality, rather than casting the Differently Animated in such a harsh and negative light.

About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.


2 Responses to “Review of ‘Start of Darkness’”

  1. A Unity Fan says:

    Hi. As a reader of both the Order of the Stick and the Zombie Rights Campaign blog, I would like to draw your attention to the character of Tsukiko, a necromanceress who was introduced realatively late in the last story arc. In particular, I’d like to ask you to read her discourse on the Living-Impaired on this page:

    Signed, AUF

  2. John Sears says:

    We agree wholeheartedly with Tsukiko that a heartbeat is not a prerequisite for being loved. We love many of our Undead brothers and sisters, who only want to live in peace in the world.

    That being said, she’s also a bit crazy. Being pro-Undead rights doesn’t require you to be pro-Xykon or pro-Evil.

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