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graceStefano  Raffaele’s Fragile is set in a post apocalyptic world in which 95% of the world’s population have been turned into zombies due to a mutated virus. The remaining humans have formed various safe havens. Alan Olden is a young man who lives in one of these walled communes, but everything changes when he dies from a work accident and flees the town after the zombie process begins. While on the run from living humans and the vigilante zombie Disinfestors he finds and falls in love with the undead Lynn, whose existence will soon end as decomposition ramps up.

The pair are in the desert when they’re ambushed by a small band of Disinfestors. It looks like their end is near when a large SUV appears from nowhere and barrels through the Disinfestors. The pair jump in the vehicle and find a tall, thin blonde woman, who introduces herself as Grace, behind the wheel. Grace cautions them to hold on to the paintings stowed in the back as they make their reckless escape. She confides the paintings are originals, having taken them from museums in order to preserve them.

It takes only a couple minutes into their rescue to notice that Grace is alive. Grace admits she started to follow the pair after they left the small town where Alan found Lynn, but doesn’t confide why she would help zombies. The next morning Alan starts to have a chat with Grace only to be surprised that there’s stubble on her face. It dawns on Alan that he used to know Grace when they were younger. Only then Grace was Thomas, the neighbor boy next door who’d fallen in love with Alan and then disappeared after being humiliated. During a tense encounter with other zombies, Grace admits that she is still in love with Alan, and the tension mounts between the trio as both Grace and Lynn vie for Alan’s attention. Grace can’t understand why Alan is attracted to an undead zombie woman when she’s alive and beautiful and at the same time she never questions why she’s still drawn to a zombie Alan.

They make it to the town of Alberville where a small enclave of zombie scientists work on developing new strains of the virus to keep the undead alive longer (I’m not making this up!). Once inside the facility it becomes apparent to the top scientist that Grace carries a serum in her blood to reverse the zombie process. No reason or theory is ever given as to why or how this is possible. For some unknown reason, Grace radios Alan’s friend Marcus, who meets them in Alberville, and is somewhat shocked to learn that Grace was a boy, but he also admires her beauty.  Lynn and the top zombie scientist are taken hostage by a group of zombies to be used as a bargaining chip against her Army father who’s trying to keep New York City from being overrun by the undead. It becomes a chase via a commandeered transport plane to New York to rescue Lynn, partly facilitated by Grace as a means to show her love for Alan, though he continues to reject her. The plot’s logic dramatically recedes after they arrive amidst a zombie onslaught, though Grace is equally adept at gunning down zombies as the rest of them. Lynn and the scientist are rescued and he agrees to work with the human scientists to synthesize a serum from Grace’s blood. She may be humanity’s salvation, but Alan’s final choice to remain with Lynn as they both face termination is stinging, forcing her to find solace in Marcus’ arms.

Fragile and Grace along with the story’s other two principal characters were created by Stefano Raffaele. Art by Rafaelle and Charlie Kirchoff.

Fragile was originally serialized Metal Hurlant, #4, 7-8, 10-14 before being collected as a tpb. This trade is available used at Amazon.

All rights reserved Humanoids Publishing.

July 13, 2021
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