Friday, October 31, 2008

Blood: Part 2 of 2 (Marvel)
New Invaders #5 When: February 2005
Why: Allan Jacobsen How: CP Smith

The Story So Far...
Having relinquished leadership over the V-Battalion to the Human Torch, Roger Aubrey finds himself uncertain of his decision when he learns of the Torchs allegiance to the new Invaders. Retired to Dymhurst, United Kingdom, the former Mighty Destroyer finds himself requiring of their services when he is attacked by vampires.

The proximity of the attack earns the interests of Spitfire and Union Jack, whose histories with the vampire legacy of Baron Blood cost them the lives of loved ones.

Believing the attack to be an isolated incident, Thin Man and the Sub-Mariner dedicate the majority of the team to their on-going concerns with the Axis Mundis Pterrorist attacks on a recently liberated Mazikhandar.
The Human Torch opts to accompany his British allies to the UK, drawn by his connection to Spitfire. His presence proves valued when Spitfire is kidnapped from Falsworth castle, taken prisoner by the cult of Baroness Blood!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: The Destroyer 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Human Torch 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Spitfire 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Tara 6 (Generator)
Agility: Union Jack 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Union Jack 4 (Trained)
Energy Power: Human Torch 6 (UWMD)

- The Invaders are: Human Torch, Union Jack, Tara, Destroyer, (and Spitfire).

The Invaders were the premiere superhuman line of defense of the Allied Nations during the Second World War. Their membership was captained by the combined forces of; Captain America, Namor, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, Toro, Bucky, joined by expansions of the team, such as; Union Jack, Whizzer, Spitfire, and Blazing Skull.

The Invaders were chiefly positioned to defend the world from the threat of the Nazi Party and their many superpowered machinations and allies. This struggle against tyranny would extend to the modern era, with many of the Invaders roster enduring through time by means of science, magic, and mutation.
Their legacy endures into the modern age, where the team is reunited on occasion to undertaker varying missions, such as; the liberation of Mazikhandar.

- A slave to Dracula; Dr. Jacob Cromwell was ordered by his master to revive a deceased John Falsworth, who had aided Germany during WWII as the vampiric, Baron Blood. Acting briefly as Falsworth's familiar, Cromwell was ultimately killed by his new master, along with one of his daughters. The other daughter, however, was merely turned, becoming herself an immortal vampire.

Upon the Barons death at the hands of Captain America; Cromwell's daughter became Baroness Blood, dedicating herself and her hordes to the cult of her creator. The Baroness succeeded in obtaining the Holy Grail, and upon drinking from it, gained the ability to exist in sunlight freed from her undying thirst. She turned her powers on Falsworths defiant family, beginning a vendetta against Spitfire that claimed the life of the hero's adult son.

Baroness Blood possesses most abilities associated with mystic vampires, including enhanced strength, speed, agility, flight, transformations, and the projection of lightning. The gifts of the Holy Grail can be transferred to vampires who drink her blood, but only on a temporary basis.

Math: The Invaders Ranking: Tara (#59)

What Went Down...
The Union Jack leads the Invaders to Falsworth Caverns, quickly figuring the repetitive strategums of Baroness Blood. There they discover a small army of unsuspecting vampires, the sentries the first to be vanquished by a sneak assault by the Human Torch!

Deeper into the caverns a colony of sleeping suckheads gets a rude awakening, the first feeling the glow of Union Jack's torch nestled close to his gun. The heat gets turned up again as Tara enters the fray, roasting her way through the hordes as they drop from their ceiling perch.

A shrunken Destroyer lifts his game to catch the fleeing undead, curbing their plans to inform the Baroness with a few well placed shots with silver bullets.

While the Invaders navigate through the underground caverns, the Baroness reveals her need for Spitfire's unique blood to sustain the child she sired with the hero's son, Kenneth Falsworth. The pain of the infants feeding channels to the Human Torch, who developed a connection with Spitfire after a blood transfusion.

Union Jack finds himself taken by the surprise of the vampires ability to channel lightning even in the depths of the Earth, but is once again saved by the gunship of the Mighty Destroyer. Concerned for Spitfire's safety, they regroup with renewed urgency.

Unbeknownst to the team, Spitfire launches her own rescue attempt, tearing free of her shackles to strike at the Baroness with a devestating punch-kick combo!
She rescues her grandson from a fall, but her dedication proves her undoing as the Baroness summons her minions. The skinhead vampires swarm like ravenous dogs, dragging Spitfire to the ground, whilst tearing the baby from her grasp.

The sudden ignition of flame comes to the embattled Spitfire's aid, but fails to stem the flow of undead. The creatures of the night renew their attack, biting and sucking at Spitfire like a well of super powered blood.
Enraged by the prospect of vampires embued with the powers of synthetic blood he donated, the Torch summons a firestorm rarely seen from the aging android.

Union Jack fails in his attempt to retrieve the Falsworth baby, who disappears in the arms of the Baroness like an eerie apparition, but the day is won.

The Hammer...
With a whole stack of charcoal vampires to his name; Human Torch leads the Invaders to a solid team victory! Which also concludes our belated October of Halloween monsters, machines, maniacs, and mystics! [Applause!] The obsessive among you can lump the Baroness and her vampires in with the monsters, if you like!

Regular readers will probably know by now that I will constantly refer to New Invaders with fondness. Reading issues of the ill-fated series, I could never make any claim that increased sales would've done anything but prolong cancellation, but I take solace in the fact that I can continue to enlighten those that overlooked this rare treasure in the Marvel stable.

With next month's Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe game casting a new perspective on the understanding of the medium of comics, a subject that's found prominence is the conservative censorship forced upon the traditionally violent game series.
From a perspective of comics publishers, I almost tend to observe Marvel as the more conservative, at least in terms of their willingness to experiment. Marvel, though ocassionally straddling a conceited modern design, often steers more closely to the tried and true - a symptom of it's economic structure.

New Invaders marked a rare departure (from the familiar) for a Marvel that was looking to secure a readership recouped by the experimental Bill Jemas era. It was a Marvel that backtracked the X-Men revolution pilotted by Grant Morrison and revamped the lagging Avengers property with it's chief cash cows.

After struggling to maintain the integrity of the artwork when scanning panels for this review, I have to willfully acknowledge that CP Smith's digital art style was a crucial blow to the series' success. While I feel it always maintained a necessary professional quality, it's sometimes static and repetitive nature was sure to rub obsessive compulsive readers up the wrong way, to say nothing of it's departure from conventionalism. I quite like it. It's vibrant and distinct graphical properties got me excited at the time, and continue to do so.
I cannot fathom how difficult it must have been to remian on schedule with the style, even with it's printed shortcuts, like the pixelated photocopy-style backgrounds (presumably) provided by "colorist," Cory Walker.

Conceptually the series was like nothing on the Marvel catalogue at the time, and perhaps, since. Post-Civil War tensions held by the Secret Avengers might be vaguely comaprable to the political controversy of the Invaders' tactics, but the world stage the series played to gave even that aspect a unique quality.

The moral ambiguity of the Golden Age stars also laced their actions with a sense of curiosity. Fuelled by that political intrigue, their intentions held a sincerity under Jacobsen that projected a modern sensibility, without devolving the Golden Age war heroes to vehicles for hollow anti-heroism.

Between the undercurrent of war, the guns, and the slightly wacky villains; I almost get a British sensibility from the series, but it's early superheroics remain uniquely American by design. Starting the series as a spin-off from the Avengers might have upset the balance of sales, but struck me as a well intending way to motivate the series by plot, rather than marketting. It may have given the series an unfortunate association with then Avengers-writer, Chuck Austen, but the benefit of hindsight should leave those aspersions recognised as misplaced.

Since cancellation, the stars of New Invaders have struggled to relocate.

Spitfire's recent tenure with MI:13; where her vampiric nature caused violent tension between her and fellow recruit, Blade; was one of the key attractions to ending our Halloween October with this issue. A reference in the issue is made to a previous bite by Baron Blood, which apparently had some apparent effects on the hero's aging process. I do wonder if it was the events of this issue, however, that contributed to Spitfire's current pseudo-vampiric state. I certainly do not recall the detail appearing in the series.

Spitfire's life after Invaders included a guest-spot early in Ed Brubaker's Captain America, where both she and Union Jack aided in attempts to stop a terrorist attack in London by the Red Skull. Chapman's anti-terrorist adventures continued in a short-lived Union Jack series, before a cameo in Spitfire's MI:13.

Sub-Mariner, perhaps the team's most present member in the Marvel universe, has continued to make multiple appearances in his role as Atlantean monarch and a member of the Illuminati. Post-Civil War tensions led to an alliance made between Namor and the ruler of Latveria, Dr. Doom. Most recently, however, Namor clashed with Hercules amidst an invasion on Atlantis by the Amazons.

USAgent, after relinquishing the self-appointed title of Captain America, grappled with the implications of Steve Rogers' legacy after his death. As the Agent he chose to remain loyal to the establishment, finding himself reassigned to Canada's last ditch effort to fund a superteam, now called Omega Flight. The team continued in the relaunched Marvel Comics Presents after a mini-series.

Blazing Skull's membership in the Superhero Registration Act sends him to Jersey where he takes part in another ill-fated Initiative spin-off, Nighthawk's Last Defenders. He joined a rotating cast that included She-Hulk, Colossus, and other.

Human Torch and Tara remain deactivated; the former was destroyed when he absorbed Tara's excess energies when a self-destruct sequence was initiated. The Torch was honored upon the construction of the Initiative training camp, Camp Hammond, where as statue carries the inscription, Jim Hammond, The First of the Marvels: He Showed Us Heroes Can be Made.

Thin Man remains at large, having escaped incarceration upon the disbanding of the team. I eagerly anticipate the next time he should resurface, and any other projects that might see the New Invaders allumni find more permanent station within the Marvel Universe.

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 5

The "Blood" two-parter is included in the complete collection of the New Invaders, along with all other issues of the short-lived series. Printed in it's entirety, I truly believe this is one of the most unique series Marvel has ever released, and hope anyone enticed by our reviews will enjoy it. By using purchase links provided, you help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars, which will no doubt feature more New Invaders at some point!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

There's a Mountain on Sunset Boulevard! (Marvel)
Where: Marvel Premiere #28 When: February 1976
Why: Bill Mantlo How: Frank Robbins

The Tape...
Strength: Werewolf 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Morbius 5 (Professor)
Speed: Werewolf 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Werewolf 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Werewolf 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Werewolf 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Draw 1 (None)

Math: Werewolf by Night Ranking: Morbius (#60)

The Fix...
It's a little late, but it would've felt wrong to pass over an Infinite Wars Halloween October without taking a moment to look at one of Marvel's most interesting horror icons -- the living vampire: Morbius!

Cover dated, October 1971; Amazing Spider-man #101 had far greater significance than that of a mere a post-milestone issue. The debut of Morbius - a non-traditional "living" vampire borne of science - proved vital to relaxing the standards of comics' self-imposed regulator, the Comics Code Authority.

It was the suppositions made by Dr. Frederic Wertham in his 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, that led to the mass sanitization of a medium that once shared the criminal macabre and horror veins popularized in their pulp magazine precursors. The resulting regulation of comics saw the deconstruction of an artform, and the death of major publishing houses, like EC Comics.
The thematic effects of the Code remain widely recognised through mainstream references, such as the 1960's Batman television series, and Silver Age comics that ran alongside it. The once grim adventures of the Dark Knight became adventures in parody and the colourfully absurd as horror and psychological drama buckled beneath approved subjects. [More; C2C: Halloween Monsters]

As editorial shifts moved with the times, a 'bronze' age of comics was ushered in. The introduction of characters that straddled the lines of acceptibility; like Morbius and Man-Thing; pushed the Code to be revised for a modern era, relaxing in particular it's harsh denouncement of horror themes.

The horror revolution continued thereafter, followed by the debut and revival of characters like: Werewolf by Night (1972), Frank Drake (1972), The Demon (1972), Ghost Rider (1972), Blade (1973), Son of Satan (1973), and even Bram Stoker's 1890s literary titular figure, Count Dracula (1972)!

Unfortunately, despite his significance, Morbius' popularity has dwindled since it's height in the seventies. As an oddity in the Spider-man gallery of rogues, the tragic story of the living vampire continued in titles reserved for Marvel's legion of monster superheroes. It was here much of the character's unique mythology was defined, and later picked up once more, as Morbius became one of the key components in Marvel's mid-nineties Midnight Sons revival of the horror sub-genre. Some of you will know the character from Maximum Carnage, a Spidey event occurring at much the same time.

Morbius is back in Marvel Zombies 3, where his recruitment into the Initiative has brought him to the frontlines of the zombie invasion of the core Marvel universe. His expertise as a biologist remains one of the most interesting legacys of his debut as a loophole to the frowned upon conventions of horror. An aspect that also could've played very interestingly had the character successfully found it's way to the big screen as was once intended for each edition of the Blade film franchise.

The seventies is where we pick up with Morbius in an issue that actually brings together four of Marvel's key horror icons: Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, and Man-Thing - collectively dubbed, the Legion of Monsters!

Before the gang gather on Sunset Boulevard, Morbius finds himself surfing the night sky in search of fresh prey. Spying a silhouetted figure on the rooftops below, Morbius swoops to knock the figure down, completely unaware that his target is a creature he'd tussled with once before -- the Werewolf!

As Morbius clutches as Jack Russel's ruffled fur, he becomes all too aware of his choice, suffering the ravenous rake of taloned werewolf claws!

The sudden rumble of an Earthquake topples both creatures, but when Dr. Michael Morbius spies a rising mountain in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, the curiosity of the scientist deep within momentarily overcomes his vampiric urges.
Alas, the animalistic Werewolf's rages are not so easily tempered. Gliding eerily, Morbius is able to evade his continued attacks, but when he spies an overturned motorcycle, the plot thickens further!

Man-Thing and Ghost Rider join the ghoulish pair at the foot of the mountain, where the quartet are approached by a gleaming golden horseman called The Starseed! The alien man proves sufficient to end the quarrel held by the Werewolf and living vampire, but the hostilities are sure to end only briefly.

Curiously enough, despite holding a keen fascination for Morbius as a character, I've never been the biggest horror fan. To that end, I don't really like much of anything to do with the seventies, but I suppose comics do manage to provide the exception to that rule. So many great concepts and issues came from the decade that burst free of the absurdist oppression of the Comics Code.

The Code, of course, is rarely used in today's market.
Marvel famously ceased submission in 2001, to instead establish their own rating system. DC followed suit loosely, continuing only to selectively submit issues aimed at younger audiences. DC's leanings toward the Code echo a past that once saw the company critical of Marvel's decision to print unapproved issues of Amazing Spider-man that dealt with the negative effects of drugs. Interestingly enough, these issues preceeded Morbius' debut, numbering in the late #90's.

At some point we might return to Marvel Premiere #28 to look further at the combative struggles of the Legion of Monsters, and how their interactions with The Starseed provide a dark mirror of their own condition. In the mean time, we watch on with interest to see how Marvel make use of their living vampire!

Winner: Draw
The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 4

Want to know how it all ends? Need more Marvel horror for your Halloween? Morbius and the Werewolf's encounter is collected in Essential Werewolf By Night vol. 2! You can get that, as well as many other issues, via the Amazonian Gift Shoppe here on the Infinite Wars! By using purchase links provided, you help sponsor future entries, which is might spooktacular of you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You can probably find complete shipping list updates on most major comics sites. Consider this an opportunity to either do all your info-shopping in the one place, or get a speculative perspective on what might be worth checking out. These are untested reads. Secret Wars on Infinite Earths can offer no guarantee or endorsement of quality. These are simply titles that may be of potential interest. Some items may ship late.

The Infinite Wars now has a gift shop!
Now you'll find Amazon purchase links to hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and other collections, not only on regular entries -- but also new releases at the bottom of the Shipping List, and now a whole catalogue of potential purchases via the Infinite Wars: Amazonian Gift Shop. [Men are also welcome!] By shopping with Amazon via our purchase links, you not only find yourself a great deal, but also sponsor future entries on the Infinite Wars.


Little Big Kirkman...
SEP083910 BOYS #24 (MR) $2.99
AUG082260 KICK DRUM COMIX #2 (OF 2) $5.99
AUG083796 NO HERO #2 (OF 7) (MR) $3.99
JUN082270 SAVAGE DRAGON #139 $3.50
AUG082243 SCREAMLAND TP VOL 01 $16.99

Thin and Crispy...
AUG082355 IMMORTAL IRON FIST #19 $2.99
AUG082348 MARVEL 1985 #6 (OF 6) $3.99
AUG082386 NOVA #18 SI $2.99
AUG080111 TRINITY #22 $2.99

The Deep Dish...
- AUG082320 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #575 $2.99
Amazing arguably continues it's retraction, pushing lingering Brand New Day plot threads into an inconsequential annual, whilst returning the core-title further into the Marvel Universe. Hammerhead's got some kind of Mr. Negative wacky upgrade. I doubt he'll be miraculously curing cancer with his touch, but that's fun. Great cover. Still has an air of irrelevance.

I can't help but feel The Initiative both as a title, and concept, really struggled to live up to all that promise. The series in particular failed to interest beyond the first few issues, but [Dan] Slott and the gang deserve familiar kudos for making good use of oft neglected properties in the Marvel Universe! Continuing the approach that endeared him to fans during his time on She-Hulk and Thing -- Slott delivers the Skrull Kill Krew to long waiting fans! PLUS -- a chance that Thor Girl might just be a Skrull. *phew*

- AUG080161 CHECKMATE #31 $2.99
DC aren't forecasting any subsequent issues on their website, which makes me wonder if Bruce Jones' gathering of characters in China might not be the swansong. Really disappointing given the promise the title showed in it's inaugral year, and the unique take on the superhero genre it provided. I'm not sure blind dedication to Rucka's version was warranted, but Jones might not have been the best choice to take over. Changes were notable.

Blackest Night is next year and Geoff Johns is keeping the Lantern train rolling with the eagerly anticipated Rage of the Red Lanterns! Sinestro's in the firing line for his crimes, but he might yet slip through the cracks as both the Red Lanterns and the Guardians seek vengeance!

- AUG082353 INCREDIBLE HERCULES #122 $2.99
Monetary constraints have sadly prevented the Infinite Wars from really reflecting Hercules as the 2008 MVP, but at least we can tell you here! Hercules' questing across America hasn't been the smartest comics you'll ever read, but it's been good comics! The fun times head to the beach where the Incredible Herc clashes with Infinite Wars favourite, the Sub-Mariner! PLUS -- there're some angry Amazons running about, and Poseiden in peril!

- JUL080124 JOKER HC $19.99
It feels like it's been quite some time since I've seen an original graphic novel on shelves, but it's here, it's queer, and it's bound to inspire fear. Brian Azzarello returns to Gotham City with his Man of Steel collaborator, Lee Bermejo, to deliver a dark account of the Joker's violent return from Arkham Asylum. Featuring a host of villains and playing to the Long Halloween concept of a city torn between the freaks and the mobsters; Joker unleashes a violent plot to take down both sides of the coin. With the promise of appearances by Batman, Killer Croc, Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn, this is sure to be a must-read for anyone wanting to follow up The Dark Knight with a slice of legitimate fandom! Hey, why not make it a very Joker Christmas? Pick-up The Dark Knight and the Joker OGN from Amazon and enjoy low prices, convenience, and the gift of giving, but helping sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars!

Thing and Human Torch volunteering at the zoo? Not super-exciting.
The Collector showing up to claim the hidden exhibit - Devil Dinosaur - which he claims to have won on an intergalactic auction site? VERY exciting!

- AUG080130 SUPERMAN #681 NEW KRYPTON $2.99
I was pretty happy to skip over the special, but after hearing more about it, I'm starting to wonder if the boat wasn't missed. I'm one of those guys who appreciates the 'Last Son' aspect of Superman, so the increasing number of elements used to undermine that always rub me up the wrong way. That said, the notion that one hundred thousand Kryptonians without the Kent virtue have been unleashed on an unsuspecting Earth sounds awfully interesting! PLUS -- the government unleashing Lex Luthor as a weapon? Cool!

We've got a 2011 date for the Captain America feature film, so this kind of stuff is to be expected. Ultimate Cap vs Ultimate Black Panther isn't bad, but let's face facts: countdown to the resurrection of the "real" Steve Rogers! What do we think? Sometime in 2010? Could they wait until the year of the film? Sure, there'll be plenty of reprints, but c'mon...

- AUG082414 X-FORCE #8 $2.99
X-Force really impressed me when I took a chance on it [#5] and the team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost seem to be continuing a vein that makes great use of a lot of familiar X-properties, but spin them into a very different world. The Vanisher is the subject in question this time, something once again cartoon-grade fans will be familiar with, but is sure to go in new ways. I'll be interested to see if there's any connection to Joe Casey's work with the character!

Know Your Trade...
JUL080124 JOKER HC $19.99
AUG082243 SCREAMLAND TP VOL 01 $16.99

Monday, October 27, 2008

When zombies munch their way through the Marvel
Universe, who is left to avenge those lost to the
undead plague? Zombie Avengers assemble as we
undermine everything established in Marvel Zombies!

Late July: Robert Kirkman makes the jump in status to 'Image Comics partner,' effectively ending his relationship with Marvel.
Directing his attentions to projects like Invincible, The Walking Dead, and Astonishing Wolf-Man; Kirkman went Guevara on an unsuspecting industry, compelling corporate automatons to throw off the shackles of their oppressors and take control of independent intellectual properties, developed away from their headlining borrowed characters.

With the line now well and truly drawn in the sand, we figure it's as good a time as any to completely dismiss inconveniences established by the writer in Marvel Zombies.

Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness backtracked to elaborate further on the spread of the plague that decimated all life on Earth-2419, following a hapless Bruce Campbell as he interacts with Spider-man, Daredevil, Dazzler, and the other heroes and villains who eventually become infected. The right idea, but as far as we on the Infinite Wars are concerned, the wrong execution.

Infection came to Earth-2419 by way of the Sentry, who himself came from yet another parallel universe. What we discuss today may pertain to the universe from which the plague originated, or, might simply be a tale of another doomed universe. Barring unforseen employment by Marvel, references are not canonical.

Our world isn't entirely different from Earth-2419.
Characters share much in common with their "616" counterparts, but for this world, infection occured during events of the mid-eighties. I suppose the "origin" of the plague remains subject to interpretation, because in this universe, the source of the zombie infection is only implied. On the other hand, the one responsible for carrying the infection to Earth is quite specific: Thor.

Despite finding fan-fiction provoking of violence, we might be persuaded to hatch-out details of this alternate universe in future entries on the Infinite Wars. For the time being, however, we need only assume that Marvel Zombies undermines the competence and super powers of certain characters. Rather than try to no-prize our way to a palatable solution, instead, let us offer up a checklist of heroes who might be a little better suited to opposing the undead than tyrannical instigators like Herr Kirkman would have us believe!

Iron Man (Tony Stark)
Year One: [1963] Group Affiliation: [Avengers]
Win Percentage: [64%] Cumulative Rank: [#3]
Strength: [6] Stamina: [6] Fighting: [4] Energy: [5]

Chew The Fat:
Tony Stark makes you feel he's a cool exec' with a heart of steel, but as Iron Man, he's one of the best equipped heroes to oppose an undead uprising! Not convinced? Read on, culture lover!

As protagonist of the superhero Civil War, situations were organized to set Tony Stark up for a fall. As Director of SHIELD things could've gone a lot more smoothly, but let's not forget, Iron Man's got plenty of experience leading the troops. It's for this reason we jump out of the gates with Iron Man at the top of our Anti-Zombie Avengers, despite the fact he's front-and-dismembered in the Marvel Zombies mini-series.

Stark's a pretty brilliant guy, so he's going to be smart enough to recognise a simple advantage: he's clad head-to-toe in a super-durable suit of armor. Not a bad defense against a menace that has to bite into your flesh to infect you!
With an arsenal of long range attacks at his disposal, Stark has the ultimate combination of offensive and defensive. Combine that with his technological and engineering skills and he might just prove useful in the big picture!

Dr. Doom (Victor von Doom)
Year One: [1962] Group Affiliation: [Latveria]
Win Percentage: [33.33%] Cumulative Rank: [#46]
Strength: [5] Stamina: [6] Fighting: [3] Energy: [5]

Chew The Fat:
Earlier in the month we talked a little about the nature of science and magic based vampires [What if...? #24] and how that alters their ability and composition. I tend to think the same is true of zombies, which makes Victor Von Doom all the more valuable an asset in the onset of such a crisis.

Like Iron Man, Doom is accustomed to garbing himself head-to-toe in impenetrable armor, providing a basic defense even in the event of a surprise attack. While Tony Stark has his wits about him, Doom's genius rivals any of Earth's greatest minds, spanning subjects as diverse as biology... and the occult!

Bringing together the powers of science and mysticism; Dr. Doom is well equipped to lead humanity against any variety of zombie. In fact, given Doom's isolated Latverian headquarters, Castle Doomstadt; his almost exclusively robotic staff; and skills in mysticism, one could almost suppose Doom had anticipated just such a scenario. If nothing else, it's a compliment to a character I do not regard as accurately portrayed by instances of baseless villainy.

Crucial to his role in the 'Anti-Zombie Avengers' is a deeply personal concern for the people of Latveria, and an underlying sense of self-sacrifice that may outwardly present an arrogance, but masks a man whose isolation is a grand contingency.

Sure, there are drawbacks, and they prevent Doom from being leader:
- There's a good chance he'd willingly sacrifice that accursed Richards.
- Tension caused by arrogant characters tend to have dire effects on the success of survival groups in zombie movies. He might be more effective alone.
- The moment success becomes apparent Doom immediately becomes a potential threat whose nationalist motivations could range from using the situation to cripple the American economy, or simply eradicate it's imperialist superheroes.
- Should the situation become mathematically dire, Doom would likely deploy technologies to decimate large portions of Europe, creating a barren landscape surrounding Latveria. Given the chance, he may even tear the continent apart to render Latveria a self-sustained techno-island.

Fortunately; Doom's best interest is to protect the globe, to protect his people. Of course, this is the type of scenario that leads to World War Doom, as he attempts to protect humanity from it's own moronic self.

ARTWORK: Leinil YuWolverine (James "Logan" Howlett)
Year One: [1974] Group Affiliation: [Secret Avengers]
Win Percentage: [45.16%] Cumulative Rank: [#6]
Strength: [3] Stamina: [6] Fighting: [6] Energy: [1]

Chew The Fat:
We've breached the subject many times, but it warrants repeating: Wolverine's healing factor combats infection.

Like almost the entirety of this list, Wolverine factors prominently into the Millar/Kirkman construct of the Marvel Zombies, and that's not necessarily an error. While Wolverine's healing factor should render him immune to infection, there is that little matter of the mystic zombie. Unfortunately for Wolvie, the science base of his super-immune system is completely incapable of combatting conceptual laws that only require a statement of fact.

"Daednu si enirevlow!" -- a crude example of how easy infection could be.

As a typically indescriminate killer who might be immune to the undead plague, Wolverine's a value player. Of all on the list, he is the biggest risk thus far, however. Traditional infection drastically reduces the effectiveness of players like Iron Man and Dr. Doom because their greatest weapons are their minds, but in the case of Wolverine, his healing factor and other animalistic skills provide the making of a super-zombie, even with eventual deterioration.
And in the case of occult zombies that facilitate infection, there's no guarantee his physical integrity couldn't still be maintained by the healing factor!

ARTWORK: Alan DavisInvisible Woman (Susan Richards)
Year One: [1961] Group Affiliation: [Fantastic Four]
Win Percentage: [60%] Cumulative Rank: [#10]
Strength: [2] Stamina: [4] Fighting: [4] Energy: [2]

Chew The Fat:
It's kinda funny that the Fantastic Four were the first Marvel Zombies we met, because as a team, they are perhaps the most inherently protected against a traditional threat.

Invisible Woman's our pick for the Anti-Zombie Avengers for a few reasons.
It doesn't hurt that here on the Infinite Wars we've seen her galvanized by post-apocalyptic scenarios before: [What if...? #54; What if: Enemy of the State]. Then there's the broad practicality of her powers. In the event of massing hordes there are few abilities more valuable than 'energy projection,' but Sue Storm goes one better! Impact spheres, tubular shunts, and forcefield walls are just the ticket for cutting a path through a swarm of undead, but in more delicate situations, she can even render an entire team invisible! Invaluable to those moments where sneaking into the Baxter Building might be the difference between life and death with zombies lurking on the horizon!

Against traditional attacks the entire FF would be welcome!
Mr. Fantastic's extreme elasticity means actually taking a bite out of him is easier said than done. The Human Torch's flames mean getting close enough without being incinerated is highly unlikely, and the Thing's rocky hide means any undead missing out on the house special during clobberin' time breaks their jaw on their own time. HERBIE - also welcome cannon fodder. Stupid bucket of bolts!

Besides, clearly all a zombie needs is a woman to sort them out. (Haw!)

Dr. Strange (Dr. Stephen Strange)
Year One: [1963] Group Affiliation: [Secret Avengers]
Win Percentage: [40%] Cumulative Rank: [#72]
Strength: [2] Stamina: [5] Fighting: [2] Energy: [6]

Chew The Fat:
If you're skipping through to your favourite characters, you might want to go back and get the basic building blocks of what we're supposing. This is the part of the entry where we typically start to skim through, and I have to admit, this entry is no different.

As Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange somehow manages to get a bit of a raw deal. If he isn't providing the all encompassing solution of a deus ex machina, he's getting pushed aside by something far beneath him. I'm all for a bit of balance in powerful characters, but consistency has not been Marvel's strength over the past few years, be it in general, or with the good Doctor.

Since I want some mileage out of these entries we haven't told you the nature of the zombie threat, which means, in cobbling together an Anti-Zombie Avengers team, we need to cover all bases! No man in the Marvel Universe is more qualified to deal with the occult, mystic, and voodoo, than Dr. Strange!
A convoluted intrusion would probably prevent Strange from scooping the zombie populous into a pocket dimension, but come story end, that might be option. Wong might find that vital lost book and Strange might be able to shift the zombie plague to make it Dormammu or Arkon's problem! It never works with the Hulk, but eh... That's what the marketting department calls franchise potential.

Thin Man (Bruce Dickson)
Year One: [1940] Group Affiliation: [Invaders]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative Rank: [#60]
Strength: [2] Stamina: [4] Fighting: [4] Energy: [1]

Chew The Fat:
How do you spell self-indulgence? T-H-I...

I was a big fan of Allan Jacobsen and CP Smith's work on New Invaders, and admittedly, will probably try to work one of those characters into just about any feasible situation. Sub-Mariner's a little too impetuous for a zombie invasion, but fortunately for me, Thin Man is just the bastard you want fighting in your corner!

I'm quite inclined to give Jacobsen's sinister interpretation of the character the respect of being definitive. This probably means Thin Man's going to be more of an honorary member of our Anti-Zombie Avengers, affecting the course of battle from the clandestine pocket of sub-dimensional space he can freely transition to.

As comics' original stretchy superhero, Thin Man has similar pliable advantages to Mr. Fantastic, making him difficult to get a bite into. Not that you'd get the chance. His super dexterity gives him all the twisty maneuverability in the world, and, as already mentioned, the ability to slide into sub-space ensures he can remain present in the zombie-infested world, without being vulnerable to it!

Already a willing killer; Thin Man could potentially be a valuable man on the frontlines, but his freedom of movement makes for a vital component in street-level intelligence, albeit an occasionally uncooperative component.
Bouncing off of New Invaders, it's quite possible Thin Man might actually operate as part of a self-invested US Military organization. Although, his allegiance to such a collective would likely be less than true, and conclude with his disappearance in the event that the undead hordes are defeated.

Year One: [1968] Group Affiliation: [Young Avengers]
Win Percentage: [33.33%] Cumulative Rank: [#242]
Strength: [5] Stamina: [6] Fighting: [2] Energy: [5]

Chew The Fat:
The beauty of robots is that they aren't susceptible to infection. Of course, Vision is a synthezoid, and contains bioorganic components that might very well make him vulnerable to partial infection. In that event, I'd like to think the time afforded by his mechanics would give Vision the chance to go out in a spectacular blaze of self-sacrificing glory - but it might not come to that!

Kitty Pryde might be a popular choice among many readers, but as advantageous as it is to be intangible, it doesn't offer much in the way of an offensive. Vision possesses similar capabilities as Sprite, but with a far finer touch of control that also allows super-density as an offensive strategum against the frail undead.

Long range attacks are always welcome and Vision also possesses an arsenal of techno-weaponry to combat those already lost to the plague. In many respects he is one of the most sure selections we could make for the team, and even in the event of the death of his creator, there's always Doom and Stark for repairs.

Unus (Angelo Unuscione)
Year One: [1964] Group Affiliation: [Brotherhood of Mutants]
Win Percentage: [50%] Cumulative Rank: [#217]
Strength: [4] Stamina: [6] Fighting: [3] Energy: [2]

Chew The Fat:
Having led with the leaders of the group, I suppose this could be deemed the section of grunts. Unus might not traditionally be the most intimidating figure in the supervillain community, but for lack of a better term, he's the ultimate common denomenator in a world where the harbingers of humanity's downfall need to make contact.

Unus' mutant powers allow him to effortlessly maintain a personal forcefield that has proven impenetrable to some of the Marvel Universe's strongest forces. A veritable Italian Batallion -- all Unus really needs is a baseball bat and a few hours to slug his way through a cluster of undead zombies.

Ever a cool customer, the only real concern about this untouchable is the integrity of his character. Having been shown to have no true allegiances, there's every chance Unus might sell his fellow humans up the creek, content to live in just about any environment behind the safety of his forcefield.

Living Laser (Arthur Parks)
Year One: [1966] Group Affiliation: [The Hood]
Win Percentage: [NA] Cumulative Rank: [NA]
Strength: [3] Stamina: [6] Fighting: [3] Energy: [6]

Chew The Fat:
Having undergone different interpretations over the years, it takes settling on more recent versions of the Laser to really make him a valid inclusion in the team.

It's easy to forget that Living Laser is a pretty sharp scientist, but in a think-tank with Victor Von Doom, Tony Stark, and Dr. Strange, his greatest strengths mirror his role as an absurdly descriptive villainous henchman. As a living laser, Arthur Parks can burn off chunks of the zombie hordes, while using the energy of his own body to prevent any undead getting through to bite him. Incineration is his ultimate defense, much like the previously mentioned Human Torch.

Arthur Parks is not without his redemption, having even worked briefly for his mortal nemesis' company, Stark Industries. That said, we are entering the more fragile corner of the psyche, where a villain might not be trusted in the pressure cooker of a world facing the apocalypse.

Juggernaut (Cain Marko)
Year One: [1965] Group Affiliation: [X-Men]
Win Percentage: [0%] Cumulative Rank: [#571]
Strength: [6] Stamina: [7] Fighting: [3] Energy: [1]

Chew The Fat:
For a lot of characters who appeared as undead in Marvel Zombies we can make concessions, but in the case of Juggernaut, I struggle!

Despite appearing on the Infinite Wars as both a vampire and zombie; Juggernaut is among the best equipped humans to resist infection.
Possession of the Ruby of Cyttorak renders Cain Marko a veritable powerhouse of unstoppable force. The magic properties of the ruby grant him physical invulnerability, as well as powerful safeguards against magic. In this respect, he is well protected against zombies of any origin.

Clubbing fists are a pretty slow way to combat numerical superiority, but given enough time, the Juggernaut could likely cleanse the Earth on his own. A favourite What If? story, unfortunately not yet featured on the site, depicts just such a world, where Juggernaut's invulnerability renders him among the last men alive on a world decimated by a phantom disease. A very specific reference, but one I enjoy recalling, none the less.

Grey Gargoyle (Paul Pierre Duval)
Year One: [1964] Group Affiliation: [The Hood]
Win Percentage: [0%] Cumulative Rank: [#427]
Strength: [5] Stamina: [5] Fighting: [3] Energy: [1]

Chew The Fat:
They say the best defense, is a good offense. Sounds fair!

A chemical accident gave Paul Pierre Duval the powers of the midas touch, only, instead of gold, all he touches turns to granite. The Grey Gargoyle marks yet another specialist superpower whose unique abilities are especially suited to an outbreak that requires a zombie to make contact with it's victim.

Any zombies attempting to chow down on the Gargoyle will be instantly turned to granite, making the perfect set-up for any other heroes or villains to shatter them into pieces. Furthermore, Duval's common state as a mobile stone man might very well render him undetected by the flesh-gorging masses of undead.
Hiding in plain sight, this selective invisibility could allow him to decimate zombie numbers in the thousands simply by strolling through the crowd!

Punisher (Frank Castle)
Year One: [1974] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [33.33%] Cumulative Rank: [#237]
Strength: [2] Stamina: [4] Fighting: [4] Energy: [4]

Chew The Fat:
On the strength of the already mentioned What If...? #24, if not the entire run of the series, we have to mention the Punisher!

Despite lacking any inherent defenses from the plague, Punisher might just be one of the most prominent components of a human uprising. Already inclined to shoot-first, it'll be difficult for any undead to get the jump on the vigilante, and once he is aware of the outbreak, an arsenal of weaponry and safehouses littered throughout New York City sponsors his resistance.

The claustrophobia of lower Manhattan may claim even graceful defenders, like Daredevil or Moon Knight, but the Punisher's readiness and expertise in urban warfare could very well turn the cramped infrastructure to his advantage.
Panel vans, machine guns, shotguns, pistols, and explosives are the Punisher's weapons, and perhaps above all else, a willingness to die fighting. Under the right circumstances, even a zombie Punisher might continue his war on crime.

Batroc (Georges Batroc)
Year One: [1966] Group Affiliation: [The Initiative]
Win Percentage: [100%] Cumulative Rank: [#65]
Strength: [2] Stamina: [4] Fighting: [5] Energy: [1]

Chew The Fat:
Dark times give chance to shine a light on some of the most unlikely heroes. Batroc might not be first call to the Anti-Zombie Avengers, but his supreme skills in the art of savate make him a formiddable fighter. Plus, the beauty of it is, as a zombie, he's completely useless. Not unlike most French militants.

There's a whole cast of B and below that could make the cut. The Taskmaster comes to mind as a particularly ample combatant, but we'd be here all day, and have a series devoid of name-value zombies. Which wouldn't be fun. So un-die, Batroc. Un-die like the surrender-monkey you are, you bastille bastard!

Blade (Eric Brooks)
Year One: [1973] Group Affiliation: [MI: 13]
Win Percentage: [50%] Cumulative Rank: [#70]
Strength: [3] Stamina: [5] Fighting: [5] Energy: [3]

Chew The Fat:
The undead are flooding onto the streets and spreading their infection throughout the Earth's populous. Sound at all familiar?
It's a hard ask to overlook Blade in a situation like this. His expertise in combatting opponents far more dextrous than zombies, but similarly inclined to bite, makes him a well trained assassin.

Mathematics is the only thing really working against Blade, whose obssessive war against vampires is dependent on hand-to-hand prowess, and the limited membership of most vampire organizations. Considering zombies can amass in the thousands, it might simply be too overwhelming even for Blade. Then again, pair him up with a well armed resistance fighter like the Punisher, and your odds drastically improve.

Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)
Year One: [1972] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [66.67%] Cumulative Rank: [#56]
Strength: [5] Stamina: [5] Fighting: [3] Energy: [5]

Chew The Fat:
When the dead rise, there's an inevitable biblical significance.
If the incursion of zombies truly is a reflection of the end of days, then who better to fight the infernal struggle on our behalf than a demon of vengeance pledged to protect the innocent?

There's something fitting about a character straight out of seventies macabre stepping up to fight the zombie hordes. Thematics aside; Ghost Rider comes ready to mow zombies down by the hundreds with hellfire, and includes mystic chains, capable of binding occult undead, or slicing and dicing garden variety.

Kirkman's Zombies may have included Dan Ketch, but if the Rider remains in control of the host body, can a demon actually be infected? I guess it's a risk that comes with Ghost Rider's inclusion, to say nothing of the distractions fellow sinful members like Juggernaut or Dr. Doom might pose.

Heck! Does zombification bring with it some sort of escape clause? Does the plague absolve the recently deceased of their actions? Will Ghost Rider even be inclined to fight them? We might have to rethink his inclusion, because if the zombies aren't subjected to the damnation of his penance stare - we might be!
I'm suddenly feeling very Jungian... We're all responsible! Armageddon!!!

Silver Surfer (Norrin Radd)
Year One: [1966] Group Affiliation: [Galactus]
Win Percentage: [57.14%] Cumulative Rank: [#26]
Strength: [6] Stamina: [6] Fighting: [3] Energy: [7]

Chew The Fat:
Get outta here, Mr. Kirkman. Get the heck outta here!
Brian Bendis might have initially missed (or ignored) certain subtexts of Robert Kirkman's independent call-to-arms, but I have to borrow a term from the follicly-challenged writer when described events from Zombies #3 -- goofy!

As appreciated as the high-concept irony of zombies devouring Galactus was, this is Kirkman reaffirming his own aspertions about work-for-hire at it's worst! You can't tell me the Silver Surfer wouldn't have himself a big old undead cookout before the G-Man comes for dinner! Get outta here!

Descending from the heavens, Silver Surfer could potentially be one of Earth's greatest defenders, if he sticks around long enough to know we still need saving. He has been out of the neighbourhood for quite some time, now, and I don't think they get good cell coverage out there on Rigel-3.

Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew)
Year One: [1977] Group Affiliation: [SHIELD]
Win Percentage: [50%] Cumulative Rank: [#223]
Strength: [3] Stamina: [4] Fighting: [4] Energy: [3]

Chew The Fat:
What good is a gimmick-infringing puny woman, you say?
Whoa now! Stay thy insolent tongue, heathen-mortal!

Ask yourself a question, true believer. What motivates the zombie?
In maintaining the fear enducing madness of the genre, few examples make any effort to explain the bloodlust or thought processes of the undead. What if we attempt to look at it from their perspective, though? What drives them?

Despite their gurgling stupor, the importance of the brain to a zombie has become a well established trope of the folklore. Let us suppose that the hunger stems, at least in some cases, from the underlying survival instincts of most living creatures. Digestive functions may have broken down as a result of the infection, granting zombies minimal nutrition from foods they devour. Perhaps, given their tastes, they may also be riddled with unrelated illnesses that contribute to their ugly disposition.

All of this is a round-about way of inferring that certain grades of zombie might still function in basic ways. Which means their instinctive primal state makes them perfect prey for Spider-Woman and her manipulative pheremones.
Okay, there's a danger the loss of decorum might result in a new strain of randy-zombie that tries to hump anything curvy and red, but with a bit of control, Spider-Woman might even be able to influence the undead. A puppeteer pulling the strings on a carrot on a string, if you will.

Given the very base state the zombies are, telepaths are likely useless, but Spider-Woman's natural geographic methods could prove vital! To say nothing of her prowess as a highly skilled fighter, strategist, and energy projector!

Mystery Champion
Year One: [1984] Group Affiliation: [NA]
Win Percentage: [40%] Cumulative Rank: [#??]
Strength: [4] Stamina: [3] Fighting: [2] Energy: [2]

Chew The Fat:
Ooo, who is the mystery champion with a secret connection to the zombies? Sometime in the future we might return to the subject of the Marvel Zombies to elaborate further on the circumstances of how they operate and where they came from.

Don't like horror comics?
Consider it a survival guide, Mr. Phoenix!