Sunday, October 5, 2008

Collection Spotlight: Marvel Zombies

Marvel Zombies has been a smash hit, we all know this, and we all know how it’s become Marvel’s biggest cash cow since Venom. But is it really all that good? As the last couple of years have gone by, people rarely even bring up the original series. It seems all they really care is about how Marvel is beating this cow to death. But don’t worry; I’m here to bring some sun back on this dying franchise.

Written (as if you really didn’t know) :Robert Kirkman

Art: Sean Phillips

Story comments: This Hardcover has a great opening 2 pages written by Kirkman on recounting his work on this series. This makes for a great read and I highly suggest you read it before you start to read the actual story as it will really get you fired up for the Zombie goodness.

Anyway, we pick up just moments after the Ultimate FF escape with what few survivors Magneto could save, and old Magnus is left to die. Though we presumed him dead already, it would seem the Mutant survived. But don’t be celebrating just yet, as the Zombies find him in a matter of seconds, and their hungry.

The Magneto/Zombies fight is easily the highlight of the entire story as we get some great moments like Colonel America getting the top of his head chopped off, Spider-man breaking his leg, Daredevil getting impaled on a metal rod, it all makes for some great and gory fun.

Usually I don’t like it when a comic or movie is gory simply for the sake of grossing people out, but here, it’s all in sick fun and I appreciate some of the really crazy and insane things that Kirkman comes up with, simply in the first few pages.

The conflict is an entertaining read but it ends in disaster for old Mags as he gets ripped up in one of the most gruesome deaths since Dawn of the Dead. Seriously, Tom Savini himself would have to look away for a minute.

Following this we get a nice introduction to the zombies as the actual characters of our story. Yes, that’s right, a zombie story…with the zombies as main characters! That is something you don’t expect there. The sheer brilliance in that idea alone helps Marvel Zombies shine above the rest.

So we get a nice introduction to each of our main Zombie cast, such as Colonel America originally being president, the reveal the Pete ate MJ and Aunt May, Hulk is triggered when Zombie Banner is hungry, lots of really great and interesting stuff that makes these fairly compelling characters.

Their dinner party is soon interrupted when Luke Cage discovers the Silver Surfer. I’d like to point out that for some reason, Robert Kirkman has the zombies say “Jerk” a lot. Seriously now…they wouldn’t just curse or get angry? No, apparently they just murmur Jerk under their breath.

Another odd complaint I have is how Kirkman really forces into our brains that the Zombies can’t feel pain. If he isn’t showing us by Spider-man ripping off his broken leg, then he’s telling us with a zombie stupidly yelling out “We can’t feel pain!” for the hundredth time. While it’s more a minor complaint than anything, it gets old incredibly fast and I don’t appreciate how he blatantly spells this out for us.

Another interesting part to the Zombies tale is that Giant Man is holding Black Panther captive in his lab. He’s got T’Challa heavily sedated and every now and then when he’s hungry, he pops down for a midnight snack. Again, it’s one of the freakier moments that you didn’t see coming and Kirkman really turns some heads with it. Though this leads to some Wasp skirmish that isn’t worth noting really.

After this we see the Zombie Avengers regroup with most of their Zombie pals. This is a fun moment and it’s kind of funny to see how these Zombies interact in groups. But it all leads quickly into the main event of the story, the battle with Silver Surfer.

The best way to describe this battle is “Insane mad dash.” Honestly, it’s all just one crazy moment after another and the whole time your either laughing or gasping at what grotesque thing just happened. The Zombies all fight like wolves over a piece of meat, it’s great to see how wild they get.

Following this are some more developments that I won’t spoil, but their certainly interesting. While I like the Acolytes and their overall sub-plot is a nice addition to an already strong story.

So the Silver Surfer goes down, and the few Zombies that got a piece of him are now endowed with the Power Cosmic. Definitely a twist that no one saw coming as it leads to a fairly funny moment of them all roasting their friends. But just as their barbeque ends, Galactus shows up.

By now, the story is really getting weird for me and I’m a little confused, but come the final confrontation with the Zombie “heroes” and Zombie villains, it’s all good. We get in some pretty sick moments and great deaths. But really, it all comes down to the stories end where the Zombies are now a group of Galactus powered zombies. It’s fairly insane and freaky, and I love the story for it.

Art comments: Sean Phillips is a strong artist who does a great job here. But I have some fairly major complaints, most notably his work on backgrounds and lack of detail in smaller moments. His art is usually great and sores, but there are times when he gets really lazy with simple things like backgrounds and costume details. So to say the time ,he blotches around characters in moments and glosses over the simplest of details. While I can understand that it’s all hard work, it’s still frustrating none the least. And seeing how in his later MZ work he doesn’t do this, it shows this was all on choice, not necessity.

Final Comments: Marvel Zombies may be a big Marvel fad nowadays, but the first story was something special. Though I know I was hard on Phillips’ art, he really does fit the tone perfectly and does a great job here. Unless you’re squeamish ,I can’t see anyway why you wouldn’t love Marvel Zombies.

Must Buy.

So that’s it for the first part of our Marvel Zombies HC review. Wednesday, expect a review on Marvel Zombies 3#1! The highly anticipated sequel. Also, remember, part 1 to the Marvel Zombies Cover Talk special starts Tuesday. See you all then.

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