Way back in 2005, Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips introduced a limited series called Marvel Zombies. A cute idea, but clearly an idea that couldn’t last, right? Wrong, as Marvel went on to do three sequels, plenty of tie-in series, and even introduced a new hero zombie character from the universe simply called Marvel Zombie. The concept of mashing superheroes and zombies will probably never die, which is evident from Marvel Zombies Resurrection out this week. The new miniseries is written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson with art by Leonard Kirk and opens with a very dead Galactus floating at the edge of our solar system.
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As far as Marvel Zombies series go, this may be the least campy, going full tilt with serious and sometimes upsetting horror. Much of the narrative is about nearly all of the major superheroes heading out to see what happened to Galactus only to find out some undead threats lie in wait. The gore isn’t as grotesque either, with much of the horror banking on us seeing beloved characters getting massacred mostly off-panel or turned away so we can’t see the violence. It’s an interesting take and it feels very much like Marvel and this creative team are taking this series more seriously. The identity of the book reads like an adaptation of what came before and that’s an exciting element. The grand purpose of this series isn’t immediately evident, but the “to be continued” certainly sparks interest as this isn’t just another Halloween one-shot.
Johnson has a great handle on all these characters, which is partly why it’s so unnerving to see them perish. Wolverine, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four all read like they would in their ongoing books. Most of these characters interact with each other in believable ways too, further making it feel believable and true to their characterizations in the mainstream books. It’s also nice to see characters like Beast and Magik interacting and being given time to shine. This isn’t the Avengers or Fantastic Four show by any means.
Kirk does a good job juggling so many characters and rendering them all so they look the part. When the violence kicks up, Kirk keeps the fear and terror on their faces looking believable. There is an absolute showstopper of a full-page splash with Galgactus I beg every reader to see. It’s impressive.
The fact that this book defies expectations is a very good thing, but it did make me reevaluate what I was reading halfway through. I almost wonder if Marvel should have branded this differently since it sets up the expectation that I’d see heroes choking each other with their intestines, or the hunger consuming characters we love so they weren’t even themselves. Since it doesn’t lean into gore or violence it’s much more emotional of a story but at the same time, it’s hard to care since it’s obvious this isn’t in canon or, at least not the 616, and thus it doesn’t matter. There isn’t a strong connection as to what its purpose is, leaving you feeling indifferent.
I was surprised to find a bonafide scary and unnerving story here without the conventional over-the-top gore or visual horror gags. This is a story to be taken seriously and the deaths feel pertinent even though the true purpose of the story is yet to be revealed. Props to the creative team for making it feel as though the deaths matter, even if it doesn’t quite hook you just yet. This isn’t a scary story about zombies, but a scary story about death.