Welcome to the Comic Archive! There have been so many amazing stories, characters, and series produced from comic book publishers for almost 100 years now; this column will serve to celebrate some of the tales you may or may not know about. Each week, we’ll take a story arc or trade paperback/collected story from a non-new comic (three years old or further back), and discuss the details with you.
“Marvel Zombies 2” follows the continuity of the storyline set up in the first “Marvel Zombies” mini-series, which we’ve previously featured in here on the website. In this follow-up mini-series, it is now 40 years after the zombie plague first found its way into this dimension, and the small group of superhero zombies that survived and somehow managed to work together have gone all around the known universe, eating every living thing they can find. They believe they have eaten everything, so they decide to return to Earth to see if they can repair a dimensional gateway the Fantastic Four were working on, in order to travel to an alternate universe, presumably one with a fresh food supply. When the zombies return to Earth, however, they find that a small group of humans and superheroes have survived, and the battle for, uh, survival ensues.
The team that brought us the original “Marvel Zombies” mini-series has been reunited for this series, and once again Robert Kirkman (writer), Sean Phillips (interior artist), and Arthur Suydam (cover artist) absolutely deliver. The story is high-paced with just the right amount of comedy, action, drama, and emotion spread throughout, and the books look great inside and out. Things that happen feel like a natural extension of where the story should go after 40 years, and it’s fun to see the “normal” humans and superheroes that survived on Earth aged appropriately, while the zombies still look largely the same as they did four decades prior, maybe just a little more decomposed.
As with the previous installments of the “Marvel Zombies” series, the “proprietary” nature of Marvel’s characters keeps the originality of this tale feeling very fresh. No other legitimate story before the “Marvel Zombies” concept could use any of these characters as undead, so the entire run of this series obviously sees a fairly high score in this department. The addition of more Marvel characters that we didn’t see in the first mini-series is a nice touch as well.
Just some minor, nitpicky qualms in the “realism” department (relatively speaking, of course). In this series, all of the various limbs that were torn off of the main group of superhero zombies have been conveniently replaced with cybernetic limbs. Who is out there making brand-new limbs for reanimated monsters who most likely just ended up eating the makers? And why would the zombies need new limbs, anyhow? And how did they get successfully attached to and functional with rotting flesh? Minor questions like these are sprinkled throughout this series, obviously used as a means to keep characters and situations “recognizable” from a marketing standpoint, but just a little annoying to those of us really into the story.
My biggest complaint of the series: while the books continue to look great and the visual carnage runs rampant, it’s the editing that has some issues here. I know Kirkman and Phillips were probably under a lot of pressure to keep things “fresh” and “exciting” for readers, in case the novelty of superhero zombies would start to fade, but from a storyline continuity standpoint, there are “holes” in this series that leave a lot to be desired. First of all, the main group of zombie-fied superheroes have on different outfits than the ones they were seen wearing at the end of the first “Marvel Zombies” series; again, what nice tailor is out there making these zombies fresh duds before they swallow him up? Also, a few new characters from Marvel’s “intergalactic” contingency have joined the group of hero zombies, indicating that the zombies spared these characters from being full-on eaten for some reason. Why would they want to do that? They complain that the food source is too small, so why add more mouths to the group? Sure, it’s fun to see characters such as Firelord, Thanos, and Phoenix in their undead states, but does it make sense? And speaking of Phoenix – time for me to “geek out” a little here, but no way would Phoenix ever be able to become a zombie. Phoenix, by the character’s nature, is immediately reborn in a new form every time it dies, so it could never, by definition, be undead. Plus, Phoenix is shown in the form of Jean Grey from the X-Men, who almost assuredly was on Earth during the initial zombie attacks and not off tooling around in the galaxy somewhere. Okay, I’ll get off my nerd soapbox now.
In conclusion, “Marvel Zombies 2” is still an amazingly fun continuation of the “Marvel Zombies” series, even if it can’t quite live up to the grandeur and high standards of the first mini-series. The worry that Marvel execs seem to have had about fan interest in the series waning was apparently grossly mistaken, as there have to date been another seven mini-series following this one, with at least one more rumored to be in the works. You’ll hear from me about the rest of the currently-existing series very soon!
Got a comic, character, or story arc that you’d like to see covered by the Comic Archive? Feel free to list it in the Comments below or send your recommendation directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – see you in the funny papers!