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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.

Extermination #5 [Advance Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

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

Boom! Studios’ Extermination

I started watching Falling Skies last year, and found that I enjoyed it overall. Granted, I “lost track” of it along the way and have yet to finish the first season, but look forward to catching up on both seasons on DVD in the not-to-distant future. I mention that because in a way, I think this title could be (in broad strokes) described as Falling Skies with super-heroes.

We open with a character that fits the Batman archetype, Nox. Human, no powers, self-made and all that; even has the dark uniform and cowl/mask. With him is the Red Reaper, a science-based villain…yet the two are working together. Of course, in a world overrun by aliens that have practically exterminated humanity and are trying to finish the job, the whole “hero vs. villain” thing doesn’t hold up–after all, even the villain bent on ruling the world, accumulating vast financial gain or pretty much any goal that’s roughly sane doesn’t want the world destroyed by a third party.

By the second issue, we have a bit more camaraderie between the two–they’ve survived some alien attacks and had some setbacks. When they find a band of survivors, they’re put to the test. Reaper is quite happy to throw in with the survivors…but Nox can’t get over the fact that he recognizes their leader as a former villainess.

The third issue involves more characters in the story as we continue to learn about this world past and present–what it was like before the invasion and where things sit at present. Particularly memorable is what we learn about Nox and where his motivation may not actually be what it seems to be, which could be trouble for the survivors.

I particularly like the story so far. There’s plenty of the familiar–especially in the flashbacks–with heroes and villains fighting, and even some in-fighting with the heroes. But the post-apocalyptic “present” holds a lot of potential and details a situation that I haven’t seen all that often for an ongoing series. Obviously a post-apocalyptic future setting isn’t new; even forcing a hero to work with his enemy isn’t new. But as the status quo for an ongoing series, I like it, and it actually seems a bit fresh…particularly compared to the standardish fare from DC and Marvel of late that just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

The art’s good, and nicely captures both the past and present settings. I also (once I picked up on it) like the way the “present” is conveyed with full-bleed pages while the flashbacks maintain the blank white borders. The story often compares and contrasts the two time periods, and the art drives it home without the need for captioning to describe which is which or when.

As with Higher Earth, I find myself giving this title a “pass” when it comes to the variant covers and $3.99 price point. While this could easily be just one of a number of titles exploring the after-effects of some temporary-status-quo-changing “event” that ties in with other titles to give a full picture…this is just one title, isolated to itself, telling THE story. That there’s room for so much more makes it feel that much more epic, but as of present, it’s a single title that doesn’t require any other series to “complete” the current/ongoing story. As to the variant covers, I’ve simply requested the “A” cover for consistency, and ignore as best I can the solicits and advertising and such that show other covers.

I look forward to seeing the progression of the relationship between Nox and Red Reaper, as well as what becomes of the survivors. In that regard, I definitely hope that this becomes something comparable to The Walking Dead in that it’s a superhero story, a story of characters interacting, and the aliens trying to exterminate humanity become background in the setting. While I have little hope , really, of any new comic making it even past a full year, I would love to see this last awhile…at least long enough for the creative team to tell their story in full, if this proves a finite series.

Also: My thoughts on Higher Earth #s 1-3 at Fantasy Rantz.

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