Sunday, March 11, 2007
Comics: Avengers disassembled . . . with a chainsaw.
Earlier this month, Marvel trotted out their bestselling zombie-variant heroes again for an unusual team-up. After trying to eat the Fantastic Four, and chomping down on Galactus, the undead anti-heroes face off against one of pop cultures most prolific zombie slayers: Ashley J. Williams, better known as Ash, the S-Mart sales clerk turned Deadite killer (re-killer?) from the Evil Dead franchise.
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness is one of the more promising monster mash premises of late. The set up is simple: Ash, tumbling between various planes ever since the Necronomicon knocked him out of dimensional whack, gets dropped into the alternate Marvel continuity where the Marvel hero population is zombified. For those true comic geeks, the crossover even fits into the general continuity of both comic companies. This mash occurs after issue 13 of Army, but some time before the Fantastic Four discovered the zombie-plagues dimension. He arrives right as a mysteriously infected Sentry begins to contaminate the rest of the world's super-powered beings.
Now it is impossible to pretend that this mini-series is anything but stupid fanboy fun – but what great stupid fanboy fun it is! The key to the whole Marvel zombie shtick is watching the noble heroes we've grown to love doing absolutely horrific stuff. This is what allowed the Marvel franchise to stick out from the current glut of zombie products. And, in this, Marvel vs. AoD doesn't disappoint. We get several panels of the rotting Avengers chewing up innocent civilians, including one of Hawkeye chomping directly into some nameless zombie-fodder's head.
It is hard to imagine that Marvel was completely comfortable with this idea. After all, you can't imagine Disney putting out some product in which we see an undead Mickey Mouse ripping apart Donald Duck with his teeth. That said, Marvel seems perfectly content to keep cranking these monstrous gore-fests out so long as they make money.
On a strictly fanboy level, the concept of a Marvel universe full of zombies does raise some questions. Comic dorks, like myself, want to know how it is that certain Marvel characters are even eatable. Wouldn't zombie teeth just break on the rocky body of the Thing? Are gods like Thor edible? What about aliens like the Skrull member of the Runaways? Can they get turned? Sadly, the authors don't seem too interested in exploring such issues. For example, issue 2 promises us a scene with a zombie Howard the Duck (a being that doesn't even have any teeth) and, as much as I like that idea, it does suggest that they decided to skip the details in favor of getting as many character cameos in as possible.
(Actually, even more puzzling, what about Marvel's already undead characters? Can the half-vampire Blade be only half-zombified? Wouldn't Dracula – who interacted with several heroes during his run in Tomb of Dracula - have to take action against this threat to his food source? And what about the Simon Garth, the Zombi? Does he get doubly zombified if bitten? Or, perhaps, it un-zombifies him? And Ghost Rider and Morbius and . . . It is enough to drive a comic nerd insane!)
But enough geeking out – basically, we're going to get Ash pitting his chainsaw, boomstick, and clumsy wit against rotting versions of Earth's mightiest heroes. It is hard to imagine you need more inducement than that.