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!

1 comment:

AAlgar said...

You are, indeed, a surgeon.