Marvel Zombies 4 #1
With the fourth installment of the Marvel Zombies series, comics nerds who aren't reading it are either saying "Another? Wasn't one enough?" or "Alright, now I've got to see what this is about." As a huge zombie and Marvel Comics fan, I've been reading since the first Kirkman written series, and have picked up the Ultimate Fantastic Four issues as well. There's a lot of history already for the MZ heroes and villains, and now's the time to start reading, with Marvel Zombies 1-3 (as well as the terrible Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness) collected in trade and hardcover.
It's hard being a zombie fan, I don't participate in "Zombies vs. Pirates" conversations, and I don't have glow-in-the-dark zombies lining my window sill. For me, it's not another ironic thing to talk about, it's a serious horror sub-genre; survival of the fittest or at least, survival of the ones with the most guns and food. I often think about how I would fortify my home, or which one of my friends has a better home to hole up at.
Throwing super-powers into the mix and characters you're familiar with only makes it scarier, or for the readers, more entertaining. The first two books relied heavily on the heroes we're all familiar with and see on billboards and rides at Universal Studios: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America and the Avengers, etc.
MZ 3 and 4 however, have taken a completely different turn, written by Fred Van Lente (Incredible Hercules, Action Philosophers) the characters aren't major players, and in some cases aren't even players anymore, Hellstorm, Son of Satan, for instance, is someone you see in a Marvel Encyclopedia and have to actually look at the origin for.
A continuation of MZ3, the zombies have made it into the main Marvel U, or the 616. The new Midnight Sons consisting of Morbius the Living Vampire, Werewolf By Night (which is how he's referred to), Hellstorm and the only survivor from MZ3, Jennifer Kale are working together to keep the zombies at bay, and investigating where they're coming from.
Less of a horror comic, Marvel Zombies is becoming another "nerd jerk-off" book for long time fans, similar to Old Man Logan, but with more of an actual payoff. Instead of a What If? style story, MZ is giving you actual continuity, this book being a sly Dark Reign tie-in without having to actually care about what's going on with Dark Reign. This, of course, is something Van Lente is becoming used to, during Secret Invasion he took Hercules to the Heavens to fight the Skrull God, keeping within Universe continuity without placing the character somewhere he shouldn't be.
Readers of old Marvel horror books will be happy with the amount of monsters thrown in, even outside of the Midnight Sons' return. The Man-Fish people from Namor comics, Black Talon the Voo Doo Doctor, and even Simon Garth: Zombie make appearances, and make a difference in the outcome of the story, and aren't just drawn into the background of a double page spread. They are characters again, personalities.
Resembling something from Avatar Press, the art in MZ4 is filled with lots of purples and bright colors surrounded by darkness. Just like everything else about the book, it doesn't feel like a Marvel comic, but more like something awesome you'd find in a quarter box at a basement store in some sad small town you're passing through. With so many super hero comics going for one look, it's good to see something doing everything so different and succeeding. Now if only they could get Marvel Apes right.....