Sunday, January 8, 2012

Marvel Zombies Return (comics)

Writers: Fred Van Lente, David Wellington, Johnathan Maberry, Seth Grahme-Smith
Artists: Nick Dragotta, Andrea Mutti, Jason Shawn Alexander, Richard Elson, Wellington Alves
Collects: Marvel Zombies Return #1-5

I guess somebody at Marvel finally remembered the original Marvel Zombies - absent for three miniseries and a Christmas carol - were still surfing dimensions after the end of 2 and figured that was a loose end that could use some tying up, because the original Marvel Zombies are back. I didn't miss them. After the third miniseries kicked the franchise into gear, I found myself unable to really care if we ever saw 2's cliffhanger resolved; it doesn't help that Marvel Zombies 2 happened to be eight shades of mediocre.

Fred Van Lente's still around for this one, but unfortunately he only has the first and last issue. The other three are assigned to whatever names were drawn out of a hat that day and are pretty inconsequential. They're essentially one-offs that don't connect much to the overall plot; they carry some elements that factor into the conclusion, but at times they drift to the background. The Wolverine issue is probably the best of the Van Lente-less issues. Why Van Lente wasn't tapped to do the whole thing, I haven't the foggiest.

As usual, Van Lente manages some pretty gross humor, which is one of the lynchpins of the whole thing*. Zombie Spider-Man ends up using his cappilaries and veins like webbing, for example; it's funny in a completely sick way. The backdrop - Silver Age Spidey - and the lookalike art only amplify it. Though it goes both ways; there's something pretty eerie about seeing everyone from that more innocent time slaughtered wholesale and awash in blood.

But then Van Lente parodies a classic Spidey splash - where Parker throws the suit in the trash and walks away - and all is forgiven. He even manages to convincingly wrap the saga of the original zombies. Whether it was necessary is the next question.

Five different artists were tapped for this, one per issue. As you can guess, the styles vary wildly. One issue channels silver age artwork, another is dark and gritty, another is cleaner with the linework and colors, so on. Most of them do fine work, but I think this book could have done with more consistency in the art style. I guess that's getting to be a common complaint from me on these zombie miniseries, but to be fair at least this was planned and not someone pinch hitting for a slow but superior artist like what happened with 5.

The Score: 6.5 out of 10

Easily skipped unless you just gotta know how the original zombies check out.

* It's too bad the others aren't as good at it as him, if they even try.

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