Marvel Zombies v3 #1–4 by Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker
I don’t really get the appeal of the zombie thing – it’s all rather grim, even with the black sense of humour that usually accompanies it. I’ve enjoyed some of the films (Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland) but they’re more comedies than zombie films – I think the fetish for watching zombies tearing apart humans for flesh is perverse, but whatever floats your boat, I guess.
I read the first Marvel Zombies, mostly because the library had it and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about – if it hadn’t been for Sean Phillips’ art, I don’t know what the point was – so it seems a bit odd to try some more, especially as I bought these four issues for £3 from the Gosh! bargain shelf. The reason was Fred Van Lente – even though I haven’t talked about it yet, I love Incredible Hercules so I thought I’d see what a solo-written mini-series by him would be like (I rather liked his MODOK’s 11), even if it’s a zombie superhero comic book.
This is, more or less, an Aaron Stack (aka Machine Man) story, which just happens to have zombies in it. Using the iteration of the character from Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave, this is actually a rather funny romp with lots of references to the less explored areas of the Marvel universe. This means that the story starts with Aquarian, Jennifer Kale and the Conquistador and Siege being attacked by a Deadpool from the zombie dimension (and a panel cameo for Man-Thing), and a central role for Morbius the living vampire. These are not usual players in a Marvel mini-series. Stack is guilted into going on a dangerous mission to the other dimension to acquire uninfected blood to find a cure when the director of The Hollow says he was going to send Jocasta on her own. However, it’s mostly an excuse for lots of over-the-top action (as Stack kills lots of zombies) and lots of humour – Stack: ‘So. I can eviscerate all the fleshy ones I want, with zero consequences … and on top of that, they’ll pay me for it? This isn’t a zombie universe … this is robot heaven.’ ‘I’ll admit the chainsaw is a tad cliché … but I’ve always had a soft spot for the classics.’ To Morbius: ‘Dude. You just staked the zombie version of yourself. You are going to be in therapy for the rest of your life.’
I don’t have any time for the zombie stuff – there’s a nice joke about Black Bolt being able to talk and not being able to shut up – but I still find it unpleasant seeing a double-page spread of superheroes munching down on humans; I’m obviously a squeamish wimp. It’s unpleasant and I don’t care for it; however, the scripting and plotting from Van Lente is fantastic, and I could read further stories of Aaron Stack, super robot for hire, solving problems across the dimensions …