Review: Marvel Zombies (by Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips)

When Marvel Zombies was first announced I had been away from reading the superhero titles from DC and Marvel. I’d gone fully into non-superhero titles. One such title is Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. Kirkman finally created a story which really tapped into what Romero was talking about in his Living Dead films. Kirkman’s zombie series continued where the film end credits began. To suddenly find out that Kirkman was to pen a “What If…?” style miniseries for Marvel telling the tale of what would happen if the Marvel Universe (well on of its alternates at least) and all its heroes and supervillains had suddenly all turned into flesh-eating zombies was great news indeed.

Marvel Zombies continues where the Ultimates Fantastic Four “Crossover” story-arc left off (story-arc where we’re introduced to the Marvel Zombies alternate universe). The Ultimates Fantastic Four has made it back safely to their Ultimates reality through the assistance of an unzombified Magneto. In the very first pages of Marvel Zombies we find Magneto on the run from those superheroes and villains turned zombies gunning for him. With these super-powered zombies having devoured the planet’s population within days they’re now set to hunting down, and at times, fighting with each other for the last few remaining people left on Earth for them to feed their hunger.

This being titled Marvel Zombies and not Magneto should give a hint as to the fate of the Master of Magnetism. No, this book deals with how the Marvel Zombies solve through their problem of not having anymore people to eat. It’s a good thing that in this reality Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer, have decided it was time to add Earth to the Devourer of Worlds’ menu. Unbeknownst to the Silver Surfer and Galactus, a planet they once thought to be teeming with life and energy to be consumned has become a death world where only the zombified Marvel heroes and villains remain.

The scenes once the Surfer and Galactus arrive were both action-packed and also full of some very dark humor. It was very difficult trying to root for anyone since in the end everyone left in the story were the “bad guys” but where the Surfer and Galactus were the serious villains in the story the Marvel Zombies themselves were funny enough in their need to take down Galactus and his Herald to feast on. The aftermath of the battle between the remaining Marvel zombies and Galactus makes for a great twist and also makes sense in a darkly humorous and wicked way.

Kirkman doesn’t dwell too much on the nature of the zombie plague’s effect on people’s humanity and feelings. He goes all-out to tell a fun, rip-roaring story. It shows in that there’s a little less depth in the book’s story than in Kirkman’s Walking Dead series, but what the story lacks in dramatic depth was made up for in some very funny and witty dialogue between the zombies themselves. The artwork by Sean Phillips (been a fan of his style since his work on Ed Brubaker’s Sleeper) complimented well with Kirkman’s zombie writing. I also like the fact that this graphic novel collected all the Marvel Zombies issue covers (both first and later reprintings) by renowned artist Arthur Suydam. His zombified alternate covers of classic Marvel issue covers was something of a great treat for comic book fans everywhere.

So, while Marvel Zombies doesn’t rise to the dramatic depths of The Walking Dead what it does do is tell a fun story of zombies versus Cosmic beings with plenty of flesheating and bloody good action. I’m glad that as great as Marvel Zombies was I’m even gladder that Marvel decided to re-visit this oft-kilter universe with some follow-up miniseries like Marvel Zombies vs The Army of Darkness and Marvel Zombies Volumes 2 thru 5.