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Marvel Zombies (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars_marvelzombies001Journey Into Misery: Episode 1

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Ken Lashley & Paul Mounts
Asst. Editor: Alanna Smith
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Published By: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

The original Marvel Zombies series roughly a decade ago ultimately led me to The Walking Dead and a years-long Zombies kick with movies and such. I remember using that original series as a personal ‘reward’ for studying toward the end of a semester in grad school: read X amount for school, take a break and read a comic.

So it was no small bit of nostalgia prompting me to pick this up, and it’s on the title rather than the cover…while it’s not bad or anything, it doesn’t work overly well for me. It definitely draws from the concept of taking a bunch of established Marvel characters and zombi-fying them, but it’s hardly new fare. While the standard-ish Marvel Zombies logo is there…I think I would have really enjoyed a nice homage cover here…perhaps a play off a classic 1980s Secret Wars cover, if not a zombi-fied version of a current Secret Wars (2015) cover.

Still, the issue’s art is good and I really had no problem with it, especially within the general theme of a decaying world with rotting, walking corpses and all that.

The story picks up with Elsa Bloodstone showing off how hard willed and steadfast she can be, fighting back the zombie hordes trying to get past the Shield. When The Red Terror (Azazel?) shows up, she manages to defeat him…but not before he’s teleported her hundreds of miles beyond the Shield. On waking after her victory she meets a young stranger, and the two grudgingly set off on a quest for survival.

Where I recall the classic Marvel Zombies series being more fun and generic, this feels like it has a lot more plot, with Elsa as the star and the zombies being relatively incidental. And honestly, I like that. Spurrier gives us the start of a good story here, and as a Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead fan this evokes a sense of those, but with superheroes and super-powered characters.

While there’s a bit of context to be gleaned having already been familiar with past Marvel Zombies stuff, on the whole this can definitely be taken quite well without having read any of that previous MZ stuff…you get what you “need” from this issue itself. The Elsa Bloodstone name seems familiar to me, but I know more OF the name/term “Bloodstone” in terms of Marvel comics than I know through “experience.”

I was actually surprised by how solid this issue seemed to me, how much I enjoyed it and am genuinely interested in seeing where stuff goes. And while I come to the book lacking any significant Bloodstone knowledge, I could see this making me a fan of the character/artifact. This is definitely a worthwhile addition to the slew of Secret Wars tie-ins, and one I’m glad to have given a shot.

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My Last Comics Purchase of 2013

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Marvel Zombies: Dead Days [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Dead Days

The Marvel heroes assemble to take down a threat to the entire universe…aw, who’s kidding who? Marvel Heroes become Marvel Zombies, and there’s lots o’ good eatin’ going on!

marvelzombiesdeaddays001Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colors: June Chung
Letters: VC’s Rus Wooton
Production: Marvel Bullpen
Zombie Food: John Barber
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
Cover: Arthur Suydam (after Jim Lee)
Publisher: Marvel

I assume that if you haven’t heard of ’em, you’ve been hiding for the last couple years, or just ignoring everything Marvel. Otherwise, who hasn’t heard of the Marvel zombies? (No, not the readers…the zombified Marvel heroes!) When I first heard of the concept, back when the 2006 mini-series was announced, I thought the idea sucked.

I couldn’t see how there’d be any point, or any fun, to the concept. Fifteen some months later, that mini is on an extremely short list of series that I’ve read one issue, and could not stop myself from reading every other issue that I had in my possession.

What’s that got to do with THIS issue, you ask? This is a prequel to that series, that shows us pre-zombified versions of the characters…how certain ones came to be bitten, and even some gruesome scenes of them eating loved ones or trusted butlers and all that…stuff mentioned or alluded to in last year’s mini.

Does it live up to the hype, and the quality, of that series? I’m not sure it does. While good…for me, this was just lacking something; though I can’t quite put my finger on it.

The story itself is really straight-forward as stated above. It cuts from one scene to another, as we see the rapid progression of the super-powered zombie plague. The scenes jump around a bit, with little time spent in any one space, though certain characters receive much more time than others in the spotlight. Even though this is a larger-sized issue, it’s still just a single issue, and it packs in what could fairly easily drawn out into a 6-12 issue series, if not more. Dense content means lack of deep characterization. But in the end, when you get right down to it, it seems that the point of this issue is the "fun" and the random gore and gruesome zombified heroes depicted on the page…if you want deep characterization, there’re six volumes of the writer’s other zombie series available, and loads of other superhero books with more room for characterization.

On the art-end, we’ve got some good quality stuff from Phillips…in and of itself, I really have no complaints visually. Where there might be some complaint would be the amount of visible gore and all that…this is not a comic to hand to the target audience of a Marvel Adventures book, and well deserves its "parental advisory" note on the UPC box.

The cover is an homage to 1991’s X-Men #1-E…the version with the double-gatefold/4-panel cover. While yet another cool zombified piece, it’s not my favorite.

I’m not sure exactly where in the Marvel Zombies timeline this fits, with the still-running Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness, so perhaps more will be made clear with that in the grander tapestry. Taken alone, this issue offers key scenes that impact Crossover and the original Marvel Zombies mini, and provides an extra-sized issue’s worth of violence, gore, and hero-eating-hero action. If that’s not your thing, don’t bother with this. If you do enjoy the concept (or enjoyed prior exposure,) this issue’s well worth getting.

Besides…there’s far worse (and less ‘fun’) out there you could give up your money for.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #8 [Review]

Writer: Victor Gischler
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Art: Jose Pimentel
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover: Arthur Suydam
Production: Damien Lucchese
Asst. Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

After last issue’s walkabout through several alternate realities (introducing us to Lady Deadpool, the Deadpool Kid, and Major Deadpool), our Deadpool is back on his own Earth, still with Headpool…and facing Dr. Voodoo, the Sorceror Supreme. (And Dr. Betty, and the AIM guys). Voodoo fixes the dimensional portal, and Deadpool takes Headpool through to his home dimension…though the two are followed by Dr. Betty and the AIM guys, who figure it’s safer than in the swamp. Once on the other side and with the portal closed, everyone finds out just how dangerous Headpool’s home dimension really is–having been overrun by super-powered beings who are all now zombies, desperately searching for any non-zombie flesh to be found for consumption. Of course, Deadpool’s prime for that–he won’t die, so they figure they could feast off him long-term. Deadpool does his usual bloody thing, while the others also fight for survival…and some new guests arrive rather unexpectedly on the scene.

This issue’s art is good as usual. No real problem here…things seem as they should for comic art, and nothing’s particularly offensive that isn’t likely intended to be (such as a zombie cut in half, guts ‘n bits spilling around as Deadpool’s sword does its business).

The writing’s not bad, either. The story’s progressing quite well, and keeps in-character with Deadpool as I’d expect. The only real drawback to this issue is that it’s not really connected to the Marvel Universe…sure, it’s set there…but this title doesn’t seem to really be “participating” in the main continuity. In and of itself, though…if you want an ongoing Deadpool story that doesn’t require any real knowledge of that main continuity, isn’t held to whatever boundaries of the continuity, and is still a great read…this is the title for you.

While there’s far more to appreciate having read the prior arc, this is–I believe–the start of a new arc, and not a horrible place to jump in and check things out a bit.

Recommended.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 7.5/10

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #4 [Review]

Writer: Victor Gischler
Pencils: Bong Dazo
Inks: Jose Pimentel
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Production: Rev. Paul Acerios
Asst Editor: Sebastian Girner
Editor: Axel Alonso
Cover: Arthur Suydam
Publisher: Marvel Comcis

Though not what I’d typical consider my usual fare for comics…there’s something about the over-the-top situation and visuals the character winds up in that just makes this a fun read. Though the story takes place pretty much in context of a current Marvel Universe, it sits on an edge just slightly off from most of the other books.

Whether it’s something outrageous like a zombie Tyrannosaur, to the cheesecake Dr. Betty, to the wisecracking Deadpool himself, this story takes established characters and concepts (AIM, Hydra, etc.) and sets them just on the other side of “fantastic” from “comic book realistic.”

The cover scheme for this book has also been fun–rather than just another logo or standard cover design, the title’s been presented in different fonts, as the covers have been “Deadpool-ization” of other classic images in our popular culture (much the same way Suydam’s original Marvel Zombies covers were “zombified” takes on classic Marvel covers. Even the intro/recap page for this title has been fun, changing things up a bit.

We continue following Deadpool, Dr. Betty, and zombie-Deadpool’s head as AIM and Hydra vie for the “bioweapon” the head represents by way of the zombie virus. One needn’t even be all that familiar with these fictional organizations…just that both involve loads of generic footsoldiers, goofy costumes, and all that…with the smarter folks at the head of the organization. Deadpool deals with the zombified Tyrannosaur, and has what I consider a classic slapstick sorta response in one panel that put me immediately in mind of old cartoons I used to watch as a kid. It was predictable, I totally saw it coming…and while predictable isn’t always good, it felt just right as it was used here.

The issue’s art has a nice balance wherein it’s not terribly realistic (too much realism would totally spoil the feel of the story) and yet it avoids feeling too “cartooney.” The art seems a great fit for the story…and the way Deadpool saw the Tyrannosaur was quite amusing.

The cover is labeled with a “parental advisory,” for good reason. The violence and gore, and PG-13 clothing on Dr. Betty, and a bit of coarse language certainly make this something to avoid providing to the younger crowd.

I have near-zero interest in any of the rest of the Marvel Universe these days…but this little “family” of titles focusing on Deadpool have been reminding me that it’s not the characters or the universe that disinterests me as much as a lack of genuinely enjoyable and amusing stories.

While the main Deadpool title has been very good, this just carries a different level of fun and adventure that makes it my favorite of the two titles…at least for now. (And it remains to be seen how Deadpool Team-Up will hold against the main title and this one).

You don’t need to be reading any other titles to follow what’s going on here–you don’t even have to be following the main Deadpool title. That has its story rooted within current Marvel Event Continuity, while this title has its own self-contained story set in the Marvel Universe but not hampered by the ongoing Event Continuity.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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