On paper, the idea of seeing your favorite Marvel superheroes as flesh-eating zombies seems a bit too hokey to be taken seriously. However, when you throw in a remarkably written story by Robert Kirkman and art by Sean Phillips and Arthur Suydam, the dynamics of this off-the-wall concept become much more suited for the medium and one that is, on its own merits, fantastic in every sense of the word.
Since its debut in late 2005, “Marvel Zombies” has become one of the companies most entertaining properties and has spawned a hearty helping of sequels. Nevertheless, it is this original five-issue run that established venerability of the series. Now available as a trade paperback, “Marvel Zombies” is a not only an excellent compilation, it’s a great introduction to the hybrid medium because it manages to provide an inside look into all of the characters in it, despite the fact that they aren’t exactly themselves physically anymore.
Psychologically, however, these characters are still very much the same. For instance, just because his stomach is ready to explode for eating too many humans, Bruce Banner and the Hulk are still as destructive as they’ve ever been. Spider-Man is still a wise guy that gets a bit too emotional at times when things don’t go his way. The un-dead marriage of Hank and Janet Pym is also still plagued with problems that stem from Hank’s impatience and Janet’s need for attention. Iron Man is still an impromptu leader, one that has to be in the forefront of anything important going on. The fact that all of this could happen and that these characters can still maintain the elements that make them so special is a driving force in the book’s ability to captivate.
There’s also the hunger to talk about.
Seeing these characters regret their new habits is also a huge part of the book, as they turn their back on everything fans have respected and loved about them over the years and become bloodthirsty monsters. The way it’s executed also shows Kirkman’s wit and sense of humor, which suits the subject matter perfectly.
Nonetheless, with a topic like this, the art has to be equally as special for the series to truly thrive. In the case of Sean Phillips’ visuals, they don’t disappoint. Seeing slews of your favorite Marvel characters being chomped to bits is enthralling, hilarious and scary. The fact that the zombies’ bodies change drastically throughout the trade is also a fun experience to watch develop.
In the end, when combined with Kirkman’s writing, it’s a marriage made in heaven that death couldn’t even tarnish.
The covers done by Suydam are also excellent, as they do a great job of showing the decay and decrepit atmosphere of the book. The bit of extra polish they provide goes a long way in making the book a respectable and awe-inspiring one.
While it may be a bit out of this world (even for a comic book), “Marvel Zombies” is one of the most enjoyable series in the company’s recent history. Simply put, great writing and art can make any subject or premise a winner, and what could have been a stereotypical and lackluster tale ends up bleeding charisma with every turn of the page. It’s edgy, smart and fun – in essence, a shining example of what a comic book should be.
“Marvel Zombies” is action-packed. The characters, especially the villains, are awesome. In the end, you’ll feel for the people of New York who were turned into zombies by the super heroes they thought would protect them. This twist makes “Marvel Zombies” an engaging read. It’s not often that the villains become the heroes. Tsk, Tsk.
Regardless of its awesomeness, the book isn’t perfect. Robert Kirkman’s story may not appease hardcore comic book fans. The ultimate outcomes of some of the battles may baffle some and shock others. You definitely won’t see it coming.
It’s all good though. The artwork in “Marvel Zombies,” courtesy of Sean Phillips, looks amazing. The “zombified” older comic covers add another cool touch. Overall, this book was a lot of fun, even if plenty of people were eaten in the process of the story.