Saturday, April 16, 2011

Marvel Zombies 2 (comics)

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Sean Phillips
Collects: Marvel Zombies 2 #1-5

As with all things uber popular, Marvel Zombies eventually found itself with a sequel by the originals creative team. They teased it being kind of a "Marvel Zombies Civil War", to which I responded "oh really now? This I gotta see!" Because, you know, how do you really do that, much less follow up with a sequel? There weren't even enough zombies left by the end - somewhere around seven, I recall - for much more than a minor skirmish, much less a war.

Besides which, for all its goofy stupidity, the first series had a relatively solid conclusion; the remaining zombies took the place of Galactus in the galaxy while the remaining humans arrived back on Earth to take back their planet.

Turns out you do it by twisting things a bit. The zombies didn't really take the place of Galactus. They end up being worse than Galactus, literally devouring the universe within the space of forty years. Once they run out of food, they remember, hey, Reed Richards had a dimensional portal, so lets use that and go to a universe with fresh meat. Back on Earth, the survivors have etched out a respectable living for themselves, but of course, political strife is evident. These two things colliding spells trouble for the surviving humans.

This go around, the dark humor is toned down. The sequel isn't as darkly comic as the original was, which I'm unsure is a good thing. It's played a bit more straight this time, with even a hint of redemption for the zombies afoot. All this means that there's more of a real story here this time, but there aren't as many "moments" that stick in your mind like the first go around had.

I mentioned in my review of the first volume that I lamented the lack of different perspective on the overall zombie infection of the heroes. Kirkman wisely avoids the pitfalls this time, as we find ourselves with focus split between the survivors and the former heroes. It actually made for a better story, I think, because the last time the humans weren't much more than meat. There was no way to get attached to the two or three left barring Magneto, which was a bit of a problem.

Everything isn't a bed of roses here, though. Kirkman even tries to make the zombies a bit more likable this go around - a real problem last time - but whether he succeeds or not is debateable. He elaborates on the concept he introduced at the end of the first volume; mainly, the zombies lose their hunger the longer they go without eating. Spider-Man has noticed this too and starts to relate it to Luke Cage. Seems simple enough, right?

Here's the problem. With the hunger gone, their heads are clearer, but it was established last time that their thoughts were clear right after they ate as well. Spider-Man was the only one who felt any real remorse. So they've turned into these gigantic pricks thanks to the zombie virus, but once the hunger is gone, hey, please forgive us, right? A bit hard for me to buy; even in their most lucid moments prior they still didn't have much problem with hunting down survivors for their next meal.

Also, how would this only just happen in such a short span of time after forty years of hunting the galaxy. It seems like it's only a couple weeks at best before they get to Earth again. They even stop to snack on Ego the Living Planet along the way. But in the forty years they spent in space, they didn't realize this until just now? Even with the time spent between worlds, traveling the stars?

So, as you can tell, there are still logic problems here. Like the first miniseries, you can't think about this one too much, otherwise too many unanswered questions and plotholes crop up. This is, again, stupid fun comics. Just with a bit more of a real story this time around. I'd say it holds up around the same as the first series, maybe just a bit weaker.

I won't spoil the ending, but there is a cliffhanger at the end. One that may not even be resolved. Kirkman didn't return for a third round - there's an entirely different creative team for three on - so what he had planned for the rather obvious second sequel is a mystery. There's overall resolution to the volumes events, but if he wasn't sure he'd be coming back, Kirkman probably shouldn't have had a cliffhanger epilogue.

As for the art, Sean Phillips is back and everything I said last time applies here too. His work is still good and he does well with providing a squick factor to the dark proceedings. There isn't as much dark comedy for him to work with as in the original miniseries, but he makes due regardless. I hope to see more or his art outside of this context, though, as it's hard to judge how he'd do on a more traditional story.

The Score: 7 out of 10

I still don't get why this was such a phenomenon, but at least they turned out to be solid comics so far. How long it can hold up as legitimate stories, I'm not so sure. Even Kirkman seems to realize the joke has a shelf life, because he mixed more of the same in with something new. I guess I'll have to find out, won't I? Worth it if you just really like Marvel Zombies, even if the novelty's started wearing off.

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