Monday, August 27, 2007

Marvel Zombies Conclusion (Marvel comics)
Marvel Zombies #5 When: June 2006
Why: Robert Kirkman How: Sean Phillips

The story so far...
Earth 2419: A frightening twisted version of the Marvel Universe, infected by the decay of an alien virus that turns all infected into decomposing, viracious zombies.

With the Earth's population decimated by the super powered zombies, food supplies begin to run low.
Failing to follow their zombified Fantastic Four into a parallel universe, the zombies finish the last active snack, Magneto, before the heavens present a miracle.

His arrival affected by unknown elements of this universe, the Silver Surfer shows up in present-day to assess the viability of the Earth for consumption by his master -- Galactus: Devourer of Worlds.

The Surfer's defeat paves the wave for the wrath of Galactus, but the devourer who knows no satisfactions appears to have met his match. Having ingested portions of the Silver Surfer's cosmically powered carcass, the Marvel Zombies have absorbed his cosmic power, and prepare to turn it against it's master!

Previous Form:
Marvel Zombies [#5]: Victories over Magneto and the Silver Surfer.
Galactus: Making his first appearance in the Infinite Wars.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Galactus 7 (Omnipotent)
Intelligence: Galactus 7 (Infinite Wisdom)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Galactus 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Super-Skrull 6 (Rubber)
Fighting Ability: Sabretooth 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Galactus 7 (Solar Power)

Okay, we should probably clarify the mass of characters interacting in this particular fight. Actually, we have a bit of a unique situation, given that there's a distinctly seperate fight in the middle of this one. We're going to conclude that the battle against Galactus is a singular fight in this particular saga, and leave the in-fighting between the two factions interesting in G-man to another day.

There are two groups who do battle with Galactus.
While the "heroes" are figuring out how to use the defeated Silver Surfer's cosmic energy [Marvel Zombies #3] against Galactus, the zombified villains of this world emerge to take their own shot at the world devourer buffet on offer.

The villains are, in no particular order: Super-Skrull, Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Stilt-man, Juggernaut, Rhino, Sabretooth, Venom, Dr. Doom, Red Skull and the Moleman.

Conversely, we welcome back many of the core zombie heroes from previous issues; Colonel America, Hulk, Luke Cage, Iron Man, Spider-man, Wolverine, and the brains behind the development of the weapon that harnesses the deceased Surfer's power, Giant-Man aka Hank Pym.

Though far from peak conditioning, this collective of heroes and villains is one impressive unit by any standard. Decomposition may undermine their physical strengths, but never the less, the challenge of the likes of Super-Skrull, Dr. Doom, Venom and the strategic assist from Hank Pym makes for a compelling argument. Then again, they are up against Galactus.

The world devourer represents one of the most powerful active presences in the Marvel Universe. His wealth of cosmic energy has spawned many herald off-springs, while still sponsoring his own space faring reputation built on the destruction and consumption of worlds. This is no guy to sneeze at!

Though made famous for a retreat, it should be noted that the Fantastic Four's defeat of Galactus in his first appearance was more of an agreed upon treaty than any kind of combative triumph for the FF. Such is the power of Galactus, that he has the luxury of living a life bound by his own strict rules, and not the whims of defeat in battle.

Though defeat is feasible (re; Annihilation), the zombie weaknesses of this mass is the most glaring factor undermining their potential for victory. On their best day, the combined minds of Dr. Doom and Hank Pym might represent hope, but otherwise, they stand ready to be mowed down by cosmic energy.

The Math: Marvel Zombies (Total) Galactus (Average)
The Pick: Galactus (Cosmic Class)

What went down...
Having returned from a strategic retreat, the Marvel Zombies gain the attentions of the world devouring Galactus with a massive burst of cosmic energy harvested from the Silver Surfer's broken body, and focused through a weaponized cannon.

Various villains, having engaged Galactus in straight combat similar to the heroes' previous efforts, spill as the blasted Galactus begins to lurch and fall to the earth.

Flat on the mat, Galactus is left in a more vulnerable position for the earth-bound villains to make their frenzied attack -- but the heroes, whose efforts toppled the mighty cosmic warrior, intervene to stake their claim to the fresh meat.

After a drawn out fight that sees the destruction of the villains, and the loss of Colonel America, the cosmic powered Marvel Zombies turn their attentions back to Galactus.

Having recovered from the previous attack, Galactus crackles with power cosmic, rueing the futile efforts to defy his might.

Stunned that Galactus survived the two focused beams of energy fired from Pym's cannon, Spider-man and the other cosmic powered Marvel Zombies regroup to take the fight back to the originator of the power cosmic.

The heroes launch a savage physical attack, pinning the devourer to the Earth as he spews cosmic energy like a massive battery.

The enhanced zombe heroes rip and tear at Galactus' perceived armor, finding the apparent evidence of the flesh and meat they so desire.

Unrelenting, the heroes pursue their attack, giving the cumbersome Galactus no opportunity to stay their efforts. Like a man being eaten alive by ants, Galactus has no choice but to lie and accept his fate -- death on Earth.

Like a pack of pirhanas, the zombies tear Galactus apart, devouring him and subsequently absorbing all his cosmic energies have to offer. It is a feast the likes of which has not been seen for quite some time. Bloody victory, is theirs.

The hammer...
With full bellies and even more power, the Marvel Zombies find themselves victorious once again, against overwhelming odds.

While I think we could question the validity of the victory, you cannot deny the result. Which I guess provides us an immediate segue into the contemplative discussion usually housed in this final section of our regular posts.

I have a fairly general complaint about this series, which manages to blanket much of the action, and conceptual development in this series.
The numbers, the lists, the tape. You've seen my work. I like to process things like simplistic, mathematical formulas. The idea of creating a tangential universe is ripe ground for this kind of thought process, and it's the lack of consideration in it's development that is the source of my disappointment.

Recent additions to the Marvel Zombies branding have revealed the process by which the plague spread through the community. While we were privvy to interesting and cute methods; like zombie Mystique posing as Scarlet Witch to infect the otherwise inaccessible Quicksilver; it essentially spent very little time on the numerical spread of the infection, content with vague specifics that alluded to widspread infection. Consideration for characters with unique defenses and counter abilities were largely overlooked -- we mentioned this in a previous entry, featuring Wolverine under threat of vampirism. [Blade #5]

During the original mini-series, and this issue in particular, we then have similar glossing of points, like the very nature of Galactus. There's a shakey relationship between Galactus as an abstract anomoly, and a physical threat to worlds.

The theory is that Galactus appears however a subject perceives him on an individual basis. Presumably this means there is more to Galactus than a giant man, and certainly more than the purple mini-skirt and tricked out pope-hat.
So, as cute and clever as it is to have the insatiable hunger of the zombies satisfied by the famous world devourer -- it undermines the unique nature of Galactus as a cosmic manifestation.

In some vague twist of fate, I've always liked the notion of Galactus existing as a sentient cloud, something like an autonomous gas giant. I would use the Stephen Soderbergh Solaris remake as a prime example, but it bares startling resemblence to the teased Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
As a true manifestation, it is nicely conceivable that a cloud of formless sentience could be perceived as many different things, including the familiar Kirby designed character we know and love.

Ultimately, Marvel Zombies represents the hook fairly well.
Continuing to be a source of revenue for Marvel comics, the concept overstays it's welcome, reflecting the kitschy fascination with broad thematic archetypes that has clogged internet humor and cutesy comics. It's big, broad, dumb fun, that potentially overstays it's welcome, even at five simple issues.

With several one-shots, a crossover mini-series, a current crossover arc in Black Panther, and an upcoming sequel mini that parodies Marvel's Civil War, Marvel proves one fascinating thing: Zombies can be defeated by destroying the brain, severing the head, or hammering them into the ground.

Believe me, if there's something we know, it's hammers.

It's not all negative though. Though underhanded, it is a genuine compliment when I say this is dumb fun. It's maybe just a little dumber than World War Hulk, featuring far fewer moving parts, but a similar penchant for big superhero battles. Magneto, Silver Surfer and Galactus each provide the sparring opposition, while there's also an underlying story about Black Panther and the surviving Acolytes, who return from space at the end of the series.

This does nicely to leave the thread which is ultimately picked up in the current Fantastic Four-centric arc in Black Panther.

The zombie hunger is recharacterized, as Galactus gives way to the collective Galacti. Having absorbed his energies through consumption, the zombie survivors take to the spaceways, seeking out planets to quite literally devour, putting a more personal touch on Galactus' old job.

Having slipped into this parallel universe; Black Panther and the current FF find themselves face-to-face with the zombie Galacti in the current story. However unlikely, this actually serves to be perhaps the most impressive use of the device since Mark Millar's original introduction in Ultimate Fantastic Four.

Speaking of hammers, I once again find myself hunched over keyboard in the dark of the AM, losing my train of thought in a maelstrom of words and critical analysis. Fitting then that I should be the subject of such scrutiny!

The Broken Frontier's Bart Croonenborghs has the special honour of being the first out of the gates on the KMI front. His review of The Kirby Martin Inquest #1 [availble online @] proves to be an astute and receptive look at the series, with a pleasantly polite outlook.

A few misconceptions aside (the book's timeframe, and format), it's a good opportunity to test the water if you've been as yet undecided about your purchase of the title. Particularly useful for the Infinite Wars faithful, who might have misconceptions about my range as a writer.
Although, even if this somehow doesn't tickle your fancy, I'd emplore you to support independent comics by buying it anyway. You can always use it to line your bird cage, or wrap around a back with a threatening message written on the bold white of the mask picture on the cover.

Before we close, it would be remiss of me not to get in the obvious dig about the Marvel Zombies cover, which was no doubt comissioned with glee by editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada.

See what I did there?...

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 4.5
[A fun concept, perpetuating Robert Kirkman's association with zombies, and slightly mediocre writing for Marvel properties. A concept that overstayed it's welcome, it might be a matter of choosing this, or the Evil Dead crossover.]

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