Or – “Anybody Feel Like A Little Duck Pâté?”

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The flying feathers crack me up… Looks like Cleveland’s finest could use a little ‘duck tape!’ Hey, don’t blame me, the comic made all the GOOD puns already. Now that the image of Zombie Howard The Duck has replaced Baby MODOK as the coolest individual comic book image of the last year or so, and it’s obvious that Ash has escaped his fatal “beakdown,” the truth can be revealed. Spoilerites are a sharp-eyed breed, and many of you picked up on the clues at the end of last issue, but here’s… The REST… of The Story.

Previously on Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness: Ashley J. Williams, having been dispatched in his own title from Dynamite, zom1.jpgends up at what seems to be the gate to Heaven. He is surprised to see Superman impersonator Marvel hero The Sentry, infected with disease that makes him resemble a Deadite, one of undead-fighter Ash’s nemeses. Through unknown means, Ash follows the Sentry back to Earth, but soon finds out that this isn’t HIS home, rather it’s Sentry’s, a parallel version of the Marvel Universe. After misidentifying Daredevil as a villain (he is dressed as Satan, after all) Ash encounters the Mighty Avengers, and gets pawned off onto Spider-Man. Abandoned by Spider-Man after Spidey realizes the extent of the carnage (immediately heading home to MJ and Aunt May), Ash meets The Punisher, decides everyone on this planet is crazy, and is only deterred by Dazzler’s well-toned hindquarters. Dazzler joins him in trying to find the Necronomicon, and leads him to Doctor Strange’s Sanctum, where Ash’s brain is eaten by the aforementioned Mallard Mortis. With his brain eaten, all hope is lost… or IS it? After all, shouldn’t a parallel universe have a parallel Ash Williams?

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Meet Ashley G. Williams. Unlike our hero, he never took that fateful camping trip into the woods, and never had to kill his girlfriend, amputate his hand, and save the world three or four times, but just like our hero, he’s got a smart mouth, a quick mind, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. After encountering hordes of zombies (including the priceless dead MODOK and zombie Madrox seen in the previews), and chopping up Hulkling (though how effective dismemberment is against a Skrull is questionable) with an nice “Who’s disassembled NOW?” joke, Ash sees the one thing that might shake him in the midst of Zombie Apocalypse: Himself, walking with the woman of his dreams, Dazzler. “What went through the head of the Ash of THIS universe was almost indescribable… a perplexing sense of Deja Vu, mingled with the bittersweet regret of a lifetime of alternate choices, topped by the shocking realization that he was meeting the absolute personification of a destiny fulfilled. But, mostly, what went through that Ash’s head at that particular moment in time…

…was the blood-drenched bill of an anthropomorphized, extraterrestrial, infected cannibal zombie duck.” HA! That is beautiful, though Howard can’t truly be called a cannibal, as he’s eating HUMANS rather than other ducks. Dazzler panics, seeing the only sane person (and isn’t THAT a sad assessment) in her mad, mad, mad, mad world eaten alive…

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“..DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS!” Ash’s dialogue is spot-on, and you can hear Bruce Campbell’s voice in every word he says, kudos to John Layman. Turns out that our Ash wasn’t grabbed by Howard, but by Wanda Maximoff, The Scarlet Witch. He starts to talk himself up in front of the barely dressed ladies, but Howard isn’t out of the fight yet, his torso lunging for Ash, hoping for seconds. Scarlet Witch gestures, and turns the duck body to glass, which Ash smashes, and remarks “Ash Williams, ladies… Kicking glass and taking names.” Dazzler, already shaken, is completely discombobulated by this…

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I told you they used all the good duck puns in the book already… Wanda reveals what happened with the Avengers, as the infected Colonel America hit the emergency S.O.S. button, bringing in the cavalry… who were then eaten. Almost the entire roster was infected (including Hercules, Starfox, and She-Hulk, who ALONE could take out most of a state), past and present. Only Wanda got out alive, snatching Ash in the hopes that his talk of a “Necronomicon” that can stop all of this is true. (Sadly, we know it isn’t, which makes this really painful to read…) Wanda reveals that Doctor Strange is NOT home, but when they bust in, they find Doctor Druid… eating Strange’s manservant Wong. Seems Druey came looking for Strange, but found the hunger overpowering. Doctor Druid offers to try and overcome his hunger and help, pointing them to Strange’s library, and Ash says he’ll make it his top priority…

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The irony of it all? Druid probably got off light, compared to the horrors that we know come afterwards. Ash and the ladies make their way to the library, where they start perusing the “Dark Arts” section of the Dewey Decimal System (which I presume is under 66.6.) Dazzler reaches out carelessly, and Ash grabs her hand. “Careful! Some of them BITE.” Well, he would know… He uses steel tongs to pull a book off the shelf, and does his best Sergeant Hartman, “Listen up, you mangy heaps of putrid parchment! I need some information about one of your own. Real nasty piece of work called the Necronomicon…”

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Just when you think it can’t get better, it does. The idea of a man threatening a talking book with his chainsaw hand is the kind of awesome imagery that makes for memorable comics, folks… Turns out the book they need is in Latveria. Dazzler and The Witch are a bit stricken by this, but Ash doesn’t know about the freak in charge, there. Wanda believes that she can get them there in a Quinjet, presuming that they can get to it. Dazzler looks out to see if the coast is clear, and is horrified… “My god, it keeps getting worse… The children…” Ash toughloves her that in something this horrible, children can get hurt, but he misunderstands. “These children aren’t IN danger…”

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Oh, god… That is horribly, hilariously, disturbingly, and awesomely WRONG on every… single… possible… level! I can’t decide whether to laugh or freak out at the sight of Zombie Power Pack. This is twisted beyond twisted… Suddenly, the day is saved (at least for a few minutes) as an off-panel voice asks, “You know the only thing better than ‘splodin’ rapacious, man-eating, undead super-teams?” Yeah! It’s Monica, Aaron, Tabby, Elsa, and The Captain (“His name is The Captain!!”) They are NEXTWAVE!!!!

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It just keeps getting better. Ash uses the distraction to get himself and his ladies to the Quinjet (“Shouldn’t we help?” asks Dazzler. “No point. Be like spittin’ in a hurricane,” Ash responds.) and high-tailing it to Latveria in the hopes of saving the day. On the way, Wanda gives the 411 on one Victor Von Doom. “[He’s] a bloodthirsty monster, bent on taking over the world, and the destruction of mankind.” Ash smirks, “How is that any different than the REST of the infected superfolk?” Wanda gravely answers… “He’s NOT infected.” Heh. Dazzler looks out the portal, and says that it looks like it’s only a matter of time before Vic IS infected, and Wanda thinks that that means the living are doomed… Ash disagrees.

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Hey, Goliath’s alive! I mean, dead but alive… I… don’t know what the hell I mean, actually. In any case, things in Latveria aren’t going to be any easier than they were in New York. The cliffhanger endings are a lot of fun (reminding me of the old movie serials, especially the clever/copout way they extricated themselves from LAST issue’s shocking last panel), and the story just careens from one car wreck to the next.

The shocking images in this book (presuming you have the stomach for them) are incredibly entertaining in a black humor vein, and Layman’s dialogue is, frankly, brilliant. The visuals are beautiful, as artist Fabiano Neves always makes Ash look like… well, ASH, while keeping the superheroes accurate and horrifyingly recognizable, even in their new states. I like this comic more every single issue, and I’m glad that it’s a limited, because the “Can You Top THIS?” nature of the narrative could get tiresome in an ongoing series. Still, if you’re a fan of the sick and twisted, and don’t mind seeing zombie Power Pack (still horribly fixated on that terrible image), this book is a wondrous 4 out of 5 star effort from all involved, and I’m looking forward to seeing Doctor Doom and Ash in the same room. That conversation alone will be worth the price of admission…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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4 Comments

  1. May 4, 2007 at 3:42 pm — Reply

    1) To Paraphrase: ‘Howard is Dead/Murdoc is God;/Johnny is Dead/Ash is King.’

    2) I wonder what the Latin name for ‘talking flesh-eating book cover’ is…

    3) There is now word to express my joy at seeing NEWXTWAVE! (So good they named it in Capitals) wipe the diseased grins off those strange, sickeningly cheery Kids…and that description applies BEFORE they became Undead. I wish the Wave’d joined Ash on his quest…

    4) GOLIATH IS DEAD! Dude, I’m so waiting for Thor to blow a hole in his chest, FOR REAL.

    5) Seeing Ash after seeing Smarmy French Waiter in SM3 is just too much Bruce Campbell for me…

    6) Do you think there’s any chance that Ash will somehow just escape the MZ Universe and live a quiet life with Daazler and/or Wanda in some backend Universe where neither he nor the heroes exist?

  2. May 5, 2007 at 8:27 am — Reply

    2) I wonder what the Latin name for ‘talking flesh-eating book cover’ is…

    Hmmm… I’m thinking something like “Eloquicannibacodexstratus.”

    Or perhaps “Necrolibristratavox?”

  3. davek
    May 7, 2007 at 1:12 am — Reply

    Ya know, the best ending for this entire series would involve Ash just about to get clobbered/eaten/head worn as a hat by the Marvel hero community at large, when he falls backwards through another dimensional warp, lands face first on cement (naturally.) He looks up, thinking he’s back in normal New York City when he’s suddenly confronted with The Ape Avengers. Yeah, you heard me – “Army of Darkness vs Marvel Apes.”

    Would ANYTHING sound better than imagining Bruce Campbell shouting, “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!” Not for my money, kids.

  4. May 7, 2007 at 7:09 am — Reply

    Mmm… That would be pretty interesting, actually.

    Although I’d probably write the line as “Take your paws off me, you damn Spider-Ape! What am I, Charlton Heston here?” :)

    The Marvel Apes thing is something that I’m afraid won’t fly, simply because Quesada is so adamant that they do it. Too many editors spoil a cult classic, if you ask me…

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