Tuesday, 22 November 2011

‘Marvel Zombies’ – Kirkman, Phillips and Chung (Marvel)

Forget picking up issue two (even though it has the Silver Surfer in it), I might just have to go for the collected editions here...

That worked out well didn’t it...? Yet again I fell foul of a ‘Reading Pile’ jammed full of interesting reads and only so many hours in the day to read them all. Having said that though... Like a zombie slowly but surely chasing down a lone human, I don’t give up that easily and will always get there in the end. I got there in the end with ‘Marvel Zombies’! :o) While Sue was chasing Hope across the park on Sunday, I made the most of the unexpected break to sneak a trade copy of ‘Marvel Zombies’ into the pile of library books that we were taking out for Hope. I had a read when I got home and... wow... Robert Kirkman’s work on ‘The Walking Dead’ has marked him out as a man well qualified to convey the human drama of the zombie apocalypse. I’m not quite sure what ‘Marvel Zombies’ marks him out as but the book was still one hell of a lot of fun to read.

Springing (shambling, lurching?) from the ‘Ultimate Fantastic Four’ series is this offshoot series where the Marvel heroes, don’t forget the villains as well, that we all know have suddenly developed an insatiable craving for human flesh and brains. Don’t ask me how or why. There was something about another dimension but my brain tends to shy away from talk of other dimensions or the more technical details of time travel, especially on a Sunday night...

Any reasons for this behaviour are totally beside the point though. What ‘Marvel Zombies’ is all about is taking your favourite Marvel character and watching him/her do all the kinds of things that you would never normally see them get up to. I wouldn’t say I have a favourite Marvel character but I still had a lot of fun watching them all cope with ‘zombification’ by eating whatever flesh they can lay their hands on. They will eat each other (but only the once) and those zombies with holes in their stomachs (poor Hulk...) will even eat the same bit of flesh over and over again to stave off the hunger. There is an attempt made to get the reader to feel some sympathy for these characters. After all, none of them ever asked to become zombies. The emphasis is more on people getting eaten but this approach does flesh things out in a good way. Spiderman’s angst ridden monologues are there strictly for laughs though and I couldn’t help but chuckle along.

When Kirkman sets his zombie crew up against the big hitters of the Marvel universe (Magneto, the Silver Surfer and Galactus) that’s when the fun starts with Kirkman pulling no punches and Phillips capturing all the gory details. Kirkman ups the ante on almost every other page and you’re left in no doubt as to this. If a Marvel zombie isn’t doing something that you would never dream of seeing his heroic counterpart do... Well, said zombie is probably getting dismembered in any number of disturbing yet humorous ways. You can’t help but laugh at Kirkman’s exuberant ‘anything goes’ storytelling, for me it was ‘Colonel’ America’s disastrous encounter with his own shield and the innovative way in which ‘zombie Red Skull’ takes advantage. If you read this collection then I’d be very surprised if you didn’t have your own favourite death by the very end.

Chuck Wendig’s ‘Double Dead’ recently restored my faith in zombie fiction and ‘Marvel Zombies’ also has to be essential reading for those looking for something fresh and entertaining in their zombie or Marvel reading. Check it out.

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