Plants vs. Zombies has been a successful game title from PopCap Games since its release in 2009. It’s been so successful it’s branched out to a number of different platforms over the years. The game itself is a tower defense style game that can be played both as a single player or multiplayer. The game’s iconic cartoonish art and gameplay have contributed to its continuing popularity over the years. With the game’s continuing success a comic tie-in was the next logical step. The comic carries the game’s lighthearted style and brilliant color, brought about by artists Andie Tong and colorist Matthew J. Rainwater. Written by Paul Tobin, the story appeals to a younger demographic, not having some of the more mature content matter that some of the other titles of the zombie genre have presented.
Plants vs. Zombies: Grown Sweet Home is a standalone adventure that puts a story to the popular gaming title. We join an already established universe where the protagonists, the group of plants, are living under the roof of a crazy inventor, Uncle Dave. Uncle Dave’s constant inventions are problematic to the plants. At first, he is up at night keeping the plants awake, then he creates a robot invention that mimics the sun, which prevents the plants from sleeping.
The plants, led by Grrawrr-Bear the Bonk Choy, Jeff the Boomerang, and Fred the Sunflower, decide to move out on their own. They have trouble getting acclimated to the responsibilities of real life, especially in trying to act like humans. Patrice, Uncle Dave’s niece, and her friend Nate attempt to teach the plants how to be self-sufficient, with very little success initially. When the already established villain, Dr. Zomboss, appears, he discovers that the plants have moved out on their own and decides to spy on some of the lessons that the kid duo are teaching the plants. Dr. Zomboss realizes that he too needs to train his army of zombies to fit in with society, and goes attempting to incorporate the plants’ lessons into his own although in a much more twisted manner.
The story juxtaposes the lessons of encouragement and cooperation from Patrice to the plants versus the harsh and bizarre interpretations of the lessons from Dr. Zomboss to his zombie army. In several panels, we see Patrice and Nate rooting for the plants (no pun intended) to make progress, while Dr. Zomboss threatens his subordinates with destruction if they should fail. The panels also compare the gentle lessons that the kid duo try to instill in the plants, while Zomboss’ lessons are cruelly dealt upon his zombies.
Plants vs Zombies: Grown Sweet Home is an enjoyable title definitely aimed at a younger audience. You don’t need any previous knowledge to jump into the series. However, there are plenty of references including robot orange juice and a zombie hedgehog that those familiar with the franchise will easily recognize and get a chuckle out of.
Though you might not need any previous knowledge, the book struggles with introducing its characters. For example,it takes a few pages before Paul Tobin reveals the names of Patrice, Nate, and Dr. Zomboss. And once they are mentioned, it’s only in passing conversation.
There is a fun interplay between dialogue and visuals telling the story. Some panels are dedicated solely to showing the actions of the plants while others depict the actions of the zombies in learning how to live on their own.
Tobin uses a lengthy piece of exposition to set up the plot for the opposing sides. It is almost halfway through the book that we get to find out the names of Nate, Patrice, and Dr. Zomboss. It takes a bit longer to get to the point of conflict in the story. His dialogue does a good job of appealing to a younger age demographic, but it lacks the wit to appeal to an older audience.
Tobin does a decent job of bringing to life characters that originally served as little more than chess pieces in a game. He does this through a fun interchange between the plants and zombies through their respective leaders, Patrice and Nate and Dr. Zomboss. You can see the conflict brewing in the dialogue and they act as a catalyst as the two sides collide throughout the story. While the personalities act as catalyst, Dr. Zomboss’ intentions at wanting to integrate into society because the plants are doing so, seems a bit forced and a little unimaginative.
Artist Andie Tong provides plenty of visual humor, and that mixed with the brilliant color from Matthew J. Rainwater in a number of panels, one cannot help but to keep their eyes on the page. The color scheme of the plants contrasted to the dull greys of the zombies serve to visually present their opposing interests as well as draw the eye of the reader. And with the life lessons that Patrice and Nate were giving to the plants and the misinterpretation of Dr. Zomboss that lead to the members of his army being injured, the comic surprisingly managed to get me smiling a bit.
Ultimately, Plants vs. Zombies: Grown Sweet Home is a fun comic, laced with comedic moments that will have younger audiences smiling. The art style mimics that of the games, originally designed by Rich Werner. New readers might have trouble learning the characters, but the humorous elements of the story will keep their interest. It’s like a Saturday morning cartoon in a book.
- Carries the light-hearted nature of the popular game title
- Colors are lively and eye-catching
- Comic is suitable for all ages
- Older audience might not be as interested
- Dialogue is not as witty as the comic action
- No formal introduction to characters