Marvel Zombies Vol. 1 TPB
With the third installment of the series coming out next Wednesday (10/08/08), the TPB of Marvel Zombies is finally being released (it's been woefully available only as a hardcover for too long). The series started all the way back at the end of 2005 and was a spin-off from Ultimate Fantastic Four #21-23, where a Reed from another universe contacts the "Ultimate" Reed for some help, but really just wanted to eat him. Obviously, this idea is awesome and after another short run in the UFF books (#30-32 if you're trying to pick them up) they were given their own five issue mini-series.
The hardcover version has had multiple printings with a ton of covers, all paying homage to a classic Marvel cover. Robert Kirkman--of manifesto fame I guess he writes comics too--wrote the first two installments, Marvel Zombies and Marvel Zombies 2 both also drawn by Sean Phillips. All of the covers were done by Arthur Suydam, and are available in their own hardcover art style book with explanations as to why they were chosen.
The story takes place on one of the many Earths (Earth-2149 for those who want to know) but it's basically the same world, except Captain America is called Colonel America. In a way it's like reading any other "team-up" or "crisis" comic but everyone's a zombie. You're checking the background in hopes that one of your favorites will show up a Zombie, or maybe even a survivor. Magneto is one of the few survivors and without giving too much away, is the provider for a group of humans, which just shows how fucked up everything is. The heroes are completely driven by hunger, and not really heroic at all. Maintaining consciousness they feel bad about what they've done after feeding, and even worse when they realized the loved ones they've killed and eaten, post-feed depression.
In Robert Kirkman's introduction to the original hardcover edition, he talks about how he tried his hardest to make it so disgusting Marvel would tell him he had to cut back, but they never did. With the complete freedom rarely given to writers of Marvel comics, Kirkman really did push the limits of the book and that's what makes it great. There's never any holding back, especially when it comes to fights between old rivals. The morals of good and evil are lost when fighting for a piece of flesh, they become blind with hunger and attack without holding back. They've already eaten everyone they love, so who cares if you blow off Juggernaut's head, or knock Stiltman down. Yes, Stiltman is in the book.
There's a one-shot titled Marvel Zombies: Dead Days which gives you the beginnings of the outbreak, and the story of the initial spread of fear and infection. I think it's the best in the series since it gives you Spider-Man grieving over Aunt May and Mary Jane, who he has just eaten. Marvel Zombies 2 which is out in hardcover is the beginnings of the Zombies' travels to other worlds in which they infiltrate with the same techniques used to take down super villains, but now it's for alien flesh. I think if you're into Marvel Zombies you should seriously consider getting these two other books because they add a lot to the story and of course, just keep it going. There's also an "Army of Darkness" crossover which is basically awful. Ash's humor written out doesn't translate and it's too much Ash, not enough zombies.
The third series is being kept almost a total secret, but with this teaser cover I can only imagine.The Zombies finally make it to the main universe (Earth-616, duh guys) through the Nexus Of All Realities, which means they'll be going through Man-Thing's house, and with Machine Man on the cover I can only imagine where the series is going. MZ2 was supposed to be the last in the series but ended with a question mark, and there are so many questions I can't see being answered in just a few issues. Hopefully we'll get a few more runs out of the book.