Marvel Zombie #1
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Stefano Raffaele
Colour Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Review by Sean Frankling
Readers sensitive to gore be warned. In order to do this review of Marvel Zombie #1 justice, I’m going to have to discuss some of the inexcusably vile content of previous Marvel Zombie issues. References to disturbing subject matter follow.
Fun story, when I was 14, I read the original Marvel Zombies in a Chapters bookstore on Christmas Eve. It may well have traumatized me for life. Now that I think of it, I really should not have introduced that as a fun story. Sorry. Good news, though! This one’s actually pretty fun!
My point is, I have a strong personal resentment for the Marvel Zombies family of comics. Despite having read every issue published to date, I’ll admit it’s a deeply unhealthy relationship.
Past issues featured twisted parodies of Marvel’s beloved stable of superheroes, transformed into murderous but still horrifically self-aware ghouls. I may never get over Spider-Man’s guilt-ridden monologue about messily devouring Mary Jane and Aunt May.
By contrast, Marvel Zombie #1 (note the absence of the plural ‘s’) is a lot less haunting. In fact, it delivers on exactly what optimistic young Sean was hoping for on that fateful Christmas Eve. That is, regular, non-talking zombies. Upstanding good-guy super heroes. Liberal scenes of the latter beating up the former.
Sure, it’s spooky. And this new version has its own share of graphic rot and gore. Definitely don’t share it with your kids. But thankfully, there’s no more of the creeping dread that chilled my teenage bones at the thought of my favourite heroes tearing innocent people to shreds.
This time, the creators have focused in on an obscure horror character from Marvel’s early horror comics: The Zombie. Distinct from the hordes of other, small ‘z’ zombies, Simon Garth is semi-conscious and does not eat human flesh. This issue has him team up with a young human survivor to embark on a journey to…dare I say, heal the rift between the living and the dead?
Weird as it may be, this series seems to be gearing up to explore a “love your enemy” storyline in the most extreme possible circumstances. And you know what? I’m in. That sounds like a ton of fun. And it also sounds like a story we really need in a real world increasingly characterized by vicious, spiteful division.
Visually, Marvel Zombie #1 is… gross in the appropriate places for sure. But it also has some genuinely exciting heroic imagery. Where else do you get to see a team of haggard superheroes in the apocalypse punk versions of their costumes? There are some particularly fun designs for Spider-Man and Daredevil, both of whom mix street clothes with the tattered remains of their iconic outfits.
Verdict: Buy it.
So, hey. If you like horror comics, check this one out. If you want to watch Spidey beat down guilt-free on the hordes of raging undead? Really check this one out. Me? I’m just glad I don’t have to watch a human femur burst out of Bruce Banner’s intestines again. And I think that’s something we can all be glad about.