REVIEW: Marvel Zombies Halloween Special

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Halloween slowly shambles closer, and with it comes a new offering of zombified Marvel heroes in their own Halloween Special. With a franchise that has been decaying quickly, will this one-shot be better off buried and forgotten, or will this tale triumphantly rise from the grave? Your Major Spoiler review awaits!

MARVEL ZOMBIES HALLOWEEN SPECIAL
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Alessandro Vitti
Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in MARVEL ZOMBIES: It’s hard to believe that the Marvel Zombie franchise is nearly ten years old, with the first issue of the first series published back in 2005. What started as a fresh and inventive tale of horror quickly became bogged down by its own popularity. Sequel after sequel was produced, and some of the latest miniseries were a downright mess. Although these tales of zombified heroes and villains produced some interesting developments in the Marvel Universe, such as the SHIELD counterpart agency ARMOR, recent miniseries such as Marvel Zombies Supreme and Marvel Zombies Destroy felt like the last breaths of the concept.

A RETURN TO THE ROOTS

While I may sound pessimistic about the decline of quality in the Marvel Zombies franchise, it is only because I am a huge fan of the idea and bring high expectations to each new miniseries. Learning that this book was a standalone issue filled me with both dread and hope: dread because the last one-shot with the Marvel Zombies was the stinker crossover with Marvel Apes, Evil Evolution, and hope because putting the focus on Halloween could be a neat gimmick to build a zombie story around.

From the very first page, it was evident that this Marvel Zombies tale was different than any of the previous stories. Rather than focusing on the heroes lamenting their newfound taste for humans, the book begins as if it were taking place in the aftermath of a good zombie movie. Our protagonists could very well be the last two humans on Earth, a mother and son who have barricaded themselves in their house and are living in relative safety. Dead corpses are scattered around their property, remnants of the most recent zombie attack. My interest was officially piqued.

Still, there’s no real tie to Marvel Zombies or superheroes for quite a few pages. The book paces itself nicely and doesn’t give away the identity of the mother immediately, though sharp readers can figure it out quickly. It makes perfect sense why this well-known Marvel character survived the zombie apocalypse, and it is interesting to see her able to raise her son so effectively in a destroyed world.

After learning of the holiday customs attached to Halloween, the boy leaves the house and explores the zombified world around him. It is here that we get our glimpses of the Marvel zombies proper. Most of the zombies are newer characters (which makes sense when examining the destruction of most of the more famous zombies in earlier mini’s) and most end up getting disposed of by the book’s biggest drawback, a “Daemon Ex Machina” that wraps up the tale a bit too quickly. Still, the ending makes perfect sense and is a minor gripe for what was a great spooky read for the Halloween season.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF ZOMBIE ART

In my opinion, one of the reasons why the original Marvel Zombies series was so amazing was the art of Sean Phillips, who could draw a monster that would make readers horrified and sympathetic at the same time. This story doesn’t aim for that kind of emotion…the zombies are nasty with no hesitancy to eat a young child. Instead, Vitti aims to show the isolation and devastation that a society felled by zombies would look like. The shots of the family’s home look appropriately bleak and lonely. The streets of New York are dirty and neglected. Even interior shots of the home convey the effects of zombie Armageddon, as a vegetable garden is set up right smack in the living room. Characters look great. The zombies are instantly recognizable and pretty grotesque; while motherhood has made our heroine look the most attractive I’ve ever seen the character! All of the action is rendered clearly and impressively, while a shot of an otherworldly character near the end of the book is memorable indeed. Fantastic work here.

BOTTOM LINE: HOPING FOR SECONDS

This book was, in a word, excellent. For a one-shot, it contained everything one could ask for from a miniseries or even an ongoing. Heartache and grief for the lost father is here, some nasty villains, and a butt-kicking mom. I’d love to see the continuing adventures of our two protagonists as they continue fighting for survival in the wasteland of the Marvel Zombie Universe. This one-shot could very well be the start of a new saga in the franchise. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself here. Buy this book and enjoy it for what it is: a fresh take on the Marvel Zombies world and an excellent book to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Rating: ★★★★½

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