Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale, 128 pp, RL 3

Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale
Review Copy from AbramsKids
1) Unforgettable title
2) Girls Save the Day
3) Cargo Kilt
4) Most Creative Portal Between Worlds EVER

Hopefully you are well familiar with Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales (link to my reviews below) by now and ready to be comforted by Hale's familiar style of illustration (sturdy jaws, expressive eyes) and cheerfully amazed by his creepy creatures and even creepier sci-fi plot. In fact, with its mix of gruesome, hilarious and science gone wrong, Apocalypse Taco may be ushering in a new genre of for kidlit: horror comics!
Eleven-year-old twins Ivan and Axl are at the high school where their mother is leading the tech crew as they work into the night building sets for the dress rehearsal of Brigadoon. With everyone getting hangry, Sid agrees to put her new driver's license to work and heads out with the twins to get food for the crew. As they pull out of the drive-thru at Taco Bear with their party packs of tacos and boxes of Mas Macho Nachos, things go hideously, frighteningly haywire. Not only has the world taken on the sticky consistency of nacho cheese, there are bug-like creatures of varying sizes that Axl (in his cargo kilt, "an expensive opening night gift" from the parents of one of the "spoiled private school kids" that one of the crew - understandably - refuses to wear) fights off with the only weapon he can find in Sid's car - a snow scraper. As Sid and the twins try to make it back to the high school, the world gets stranger. A ball of arms and legs turns out to be a grad student in the Masters of Library Science program at the nearby university named Wendy. Not only does Wendy seem to understand this world that seems to be replicating itself, but she also knows what triggered this nightmare. 
As she steers Sid and the twins toward safety, Wendy tells the story of her roommates, bioengineering grad students Alice and Kevin. Aside from eating ONLY food from Taco Bear and being a neat freak, Kevin seemed worryingly intense about his secret work. Especially when he started keeping bees and sleeping outside to be closer to their hive. Returning after an absence, Kevin takes Alice and Wendy to Taco Bear for dinner to explain himself, or so he says . . . Sucked into this mad scientist's good plan gone horribly wrong, Wendy is fighting to rescue Alice and stop Kevin, culminating in a passage between worlds that requires driving backwards, at top speed, through the Taco Bear drive-thru.
There are some truly creepy moments in Apocalypse Taco. Hale mitigates the tension and suspense with fantastic storytelling and a truly imaginative sci-fi plot. The grayscale that works perfectly for the nighttime setting (a small digital clock icon accompanies new chapters) with shades of orange bringing the sci-fi themes brilliantly to the page. I am not a fan of horror (movies or books) but if Apocalypse Taco is at the forefront of the new kidlit genre of horror comics, I think this is something I can get behind!

More marvelous Nathan Hale!

Click here for reviews of Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales

Written by Shannon & Dean Hale (no relation) and illustrated by Nathan Hale,
Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack

And don't miss these excellent picture book mash-ups where Ludwig Bemelman's Madeline meets Frankenstein. Click here for my review.

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