It’s impressive to note how Marvel’s relationship to the zombie universe is so iconic. Maybe it’s because it originally launched as a fun side project by a still relatively unknown Robert Kirkman, or maybe because it’s a wild concept that didn’t take any prisoners. Resurrected in 2019 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Leonard Kirk, the concept of zombies in the Marvel universe was brought back with a story that tied together with a mysterious virus and the mysterious death of Galactus. Collected together for the first time, Marvel Comics has released the Marvel Zombies: Resurrection story that spans a one-shot and a four-part story released a year apart. All told, this is a story that’s incredibly mature in its approach never going the campy route and thus delivering a much darker and scarier zombie tale.
This collection opens with Marvel Zombies: Resurrection #1 (2019) which sets up the zombie threat in an intriguing and unsuspecting way. Released in October 2019, 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 as Kirkman and Sean Phillips’ run, 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.
The story carries on in Marvel Zombies: Resurrection #1-4, and it’s not looking good for the world. The rotting zombie corpse of Galactus has tainted Earth and now most humans are cannibalistic monsters struck with a virus. Spider-Man more or less leads a team of only a handful of heroes including Val and Franklin Richards. At the center of this narrative is Peter Parker’s promise to keep the Richards kids safe, while also living with himself after committing countless horrors to stay alive.
This four-part arc takes its time to reveal the headspace of its characters and the intense depression and exhaustion they are going through. Running 43 pages, the first issue is extra-sized and filled with appropriately extra-sized details. Part of the fun of these alternate reality stories is seeing how the world has changed and where characters have ended up, and there’s plenty of fun details like that scattered throughout. I won’t spoil a single one, but know there are some cool weapons to keep an eye on.
As the story goes on, this series offers a couple of big reveals and some healthy explanation as to what is going on. Johnson is very good at pacing out good page-turning moments that’ll wet your whistle. As far as penultimate issues go, this firmly establishes that the final issue will be a must-read book for those even moderately interested. The series leans into a wide swath of characters and character references unencumbered by continuity or editorial mandates. For that, this book reads like a wild and crazy idea we probably don’t deserve.
Leonard Kirk’s art, paired with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg for issues 1-4, is effective for a book like this, with great close-ups and mid-range shots to show characters speaking to each other. For such a dark book, Rosenberg maximizes the effects and lighting. There’s great atmosphere in the opening forest scene, with eerie greens and blues, and the opening full-page splash is haunting in its use of colors. Speaking of, Kirk’s work on this page is excellent, drawing your eye all around as the mayhem takes out the city. You get the sense of horror from the street. Silhouette is used quite a bit as well, creating a haunting nature in most scenes. One gripe is how Peter’s face can look wildly different from panel to panel. However, Rosenberg colors the issues in a darker tone, which suits the darker theme of the book. Colors brighten up for action scenes, and when it matters, most of the art works well.
Marvel Zombies: Resurrection is a suspenseful slow burn story that has so many references from Marvel’s stable of characters it will intrigue even the most casual fan. It’s a more mature take on zombies in the Marvel universe, and it’s also a sleeper Spider-Man story worth a read. Spider-Man goes through a different kind of crisis in a horror comic with an edge.
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