Or – “How Aaron Got His Groove Back…”

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The strip-mining of Marvel’s 2006 surprise monster hit (pun fully intended) continues apace, with the dead folks engineering several brilliant strokes, even finding a way to crack the dimensional barrier into the regular Marvel Universe (which, now that we think of it, may be the first real proof that the 616 and Ultimate Universes actually HAVE the ability to crossover, even through an intermediary) and finding ways around the endless hunger within ’em.  Of course, they’re still $&@%ing flesh-eating monsters, so they got that going for ’em.  Which is nice…

Previously, on Marvel Zombies 3:  The artist formerly known as Machine Man is the only hero who can MZ1.jpgsave the day, by infiltrating the zombie universe and finding a sample of untainted human tissue that ARMOR (the extradimensional arm of SHIELD) hopes to use to unravel the zombie plague which has begun mirgrating to the mainstream Marvel U.  A few things weren’t in Aaron Stack’s programming parameters however, notably the return of his lost love Jocasta (one of the children of evil robot Ultron.)  Also worth noting: the zombies have already infiltrated SHIELD, in the person of a zombie version of Michael Morbius (heretofore reffered to as Zorbius) who intended to use the virus to INFECT the entire Marvel Universe, rather than innoculate them.  The remaining Marvel Zombies, under the leadership of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, have come together to help the Jackal clone humans for them to kill and eat, essentially making an endless food supply.  Jocasta and Aaron have managed to get the tissue sample (from Kingpin’s wife Vanessa) but Aaron realizes that the human clones are being treated as badly as robots in his home world, and vows to stay behind and avenge them…  Go go gadget scissor hand!

Our story opens with Zorbius taunting his non-zombie Morbius counterpart, and like a good villain, explaining the whole wicked plot to turn his world’s super-heroes into plaguebearers by “vaccinating” every registered hero.  Having broken away from her former robo-paramour, Jocasta makes her way to the extraction point, only to find herself taunted by an image of the Wasp.  “You’re a fake.  A robotic fake of me.  Just like you were designed to be.  You’ll never be a REAL GIRL.  And they know it.  So they’re gonna leave you here.  To DIE.  Again.”  The hallucination laughs cruelly, as Jocasta falls to her knees.  “And you’re fat.”  HA!  That’s funny…  Back in the Kingpin’s stronghold, the horde of zombies feels the full fury of X-51, as Aaron opens up a case of whoop-ass one can at a time, one hand a flamethrower, and the other a heavy machine gun.  He snatches up Absorbing Man’s wrecking ball, crushing Zombie Batroc with it.  ‘Sorby tries to absorb his powers, but Aaron dodges with his extensible legs.  “You missed me, and instead you’ve absorbed the powers of a zombie!”  He fires both hands fullbore, and rages, “COMPLETE WITH SKULL-EXPLODING ACTION!  Next time, try absorbing brains.”

The horror comes fast and furious, as he takes out Stilt-Man and Karnak with a chainsaw, kills a crowd with a grenade, and spikes Ursa Major from the inside after the bear-mutant bites him.  “I have no stomach, and I must barf,” says Aaron as the killing continues.  He finds the drooling zombie body of Doctor Strange in front of an open space portal, and the Kingpin explains how he has already sent minions into Aaron’s world.  “Being dead hasn’t stopped you idiots from monologuing,” replies Aaron.  He blows Medusa’s head off, but finds that his radio link to Jocasta severed (by the Vision, kept somewhere in the building, and hilariously begging a zombie Scarlet Witch for a kiss) and so steals Vengenace’s flaming motorcycle and blowing up the Kingpin’s stronghold.  Quicksilver, the Whizzer and Speed Demon follow him, and he dispatches them hard before the motorcycle blows up.  Back in the Marvel U, Zorbius bites a SHIELD agent who then begins the endless cycle of consume and destroy.  Jocasta’s “ride” arrives, but Aaron is nowhere to be found, and she reluctantly leaves him behind.  The last page is a shocker, showing Aaron’s shattered and battered form, his face blown off, only one limb still functional, lying in a pile of rubble.  “Jocasta…” he whispers, as the end of the universe as he knows it dawns…

This is a really fun issue of a really fun series, and writer Fred Van Lente manages to merge two of my favorite things in recent Marvel history, the dark horror of the Marvel Zombies and the wry, vicious Aaron Stack from the late, lamented nextwave.  Kev Walker manages to convey pure horror and comedy (sometimes even in the same panel) especially where a burning Kingpin steps out of the rubble of his home screaming for vengeance.  Marvel Zombies 2 lost a bit of the fun that the original series and Dead Days nailed so well, and even brings new luster to characters like Morbius, Jocasta and Machine Man, proving my theory that everything more than 30 years old is now considered Marvel Gold (witness Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and others, once considered second-tier losers, now among the upper echelons of the MU.)  Overall, this is my favorite issue to date, though the Machine Man fan in me may have something to do with that…  Marvel Zombies 3 # 3 earns an impressive 4 out of 5 stars, reminding me that it’s still possible to have fun with Marvel characters, even if the guys on the really big titles don’t remember how.

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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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1 Comment

  1. Luis Dantas
    December 27, 2008 at 9:31 pm — Reply

    Technically, the possibility of indirect travel between the Ultimate Earth and Earth-616 has already been twice established: once by that Squadron Supreme / Ultimates battle that eventually involved the first Squadron Supreme, and again by the tale of the Black Panther and his FF meeting the Marvel Zombies.

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