Saturday, December 01, 2007

Zombie Jamboree, pt. 2: Marvel Zombies - Dead Days

This is the second of three blog posts about Zombies. If you weren't paying attention scroll down and check out Part One.

This one-shot doesn’t completely explain everything that confused me in MARVEL ZOMBIES2, however it did clear up a few things that I had read about over on Wikipedia but could not quite grasp. If you aren’t into the MZ stuff you can skip this post.


This book picks up towards the middle of the original MZ series and shows us some of the events which happened off-screen in that title. It also brings those unfamiliar with the original up to speed so they can get an idea of what to expect in the up-coming MZ2 and other tie-ins. I think I’m still going to have to get my hands on the original series and maybe even check out the first few MZ stories from ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #21-23 which began the whole thing. There’s also a “Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness” mini-series, which I’d like to pick up, featuring the always confused but ready to kick butt Ash. However, you can read this book without picking up the earlier titles since it covers a lot of what happened up to this point.

This story begins with the Avengers already converted to zombies and Spider-Man bitten but able to temporarily hold off the change. We learn that the virus which causes the transformation was brought to Earth by Magneto. Led to believe the only non-mutants would be affected he opens a gateway allowing the contagion. Too late he finds that both mutants and non-mutants are equally vulnerable, but by then the damage has been done. As things grow worse the unchanged heroes and some villains join forces. Taken aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier, scientists Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) work to discover a cure or a way for those unaffected to escape. Approached to help them, Doctor Doom turns them down, vowing to remain and protect his own homeland of Latveria from the virus with no outside aide.

It was creepy seeing Peter Parker attacking Mary Jane and begging Aunt May to hide herself. I doubt she made it, but you see Spidey in MZ2 trying to recover his senses, and it is evident from the beginning that he regrets what he does. This is unlike some other characters in the book, especially Reed Richards who totally loses it and converts his wife & friends. Even given seeing his own children killed by a zombie-fied She-Hulk, I don’t completely buy his becoming this unbalanced but as with the scene with Spider-Man’s change, watching the FF turn is disturbing to this fanboy.

I was surprised how many of the Marvel characters I recognized throughout the book, especially in a double-page panel on the heli-carrier. I haven’t been a Marvel reader for several years, but I guess my subscription to Comic Buyer’s Guide is paying off. Lots of major and very minor characters appear and it was fun trying to remember who each was, even though there were about a half-dozen I couldn’t identify. Pretty cool seeing the Warriors Three (from the original THOR series), Brother Voodoo and Jack Kirby’s Machine Man showing up. There was at least one other Kirby character (among the dozen of his co-creations I could peg) that I didn’t remember at all, but I know I’ve seen him/it before.
I've noted, and it has been pointed out, that I seldom if ever mention the art or artists in the books I review. As comics are for the most part a visual medium it really is a bad habit into which I've fallen. I'll try to do better in future.
Sean Phillips does a great job here, as I said, making a huge cast recognizable even to some one like myself. There are a few panels where colorist June Chung goes a bit too dark for my taste, but given the subject matter you can understand the editorial decision to go that way. Phillips was the artist on the original series and along with writer Robert Kirkman (his partner on that mini as well) they get a solid Three out of Four stars

Not a great book, but fun if you are into this very bizarre corner of the Marvel Universe.
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