|MARVEL ZOMBIES No. 1, August 2015|
Published as part of the “Marvel Worldwide” “Secret Wars multiverse crossover” mega-event “where pieces of the main Marvel Universe, Ultimate Universe, and several other alternates are melded into a Battle World”, it is hard to imagine a title with so dislikeable a main protagonist as Simon Spurrier’s portrayal of Elsa Bloodstone. For whilst this mini-series’ hard-nosed section commander of ‘The Shield’ is a cold-hearted alternative version of Dan Abnett’s co-creation, the female monster hunter is as unsympathetic and apparently uncaring as one can be, and even goes so far as to tell one of her fatally wounded understandably distraught soldiers that “you will show no weakness. Blubbing is not allowed.”
Admittedly a lot of this character’s “hardass” attitude to her companions’ woes is actually superficial showmanship and would seemingly stem from an exceptionally harsh and cruel childhood at the hands of her father, the immortal Hellfire Helix imbued Ulysses Bloodstone. But having been exposed to the razor-sharp teeth and claws of “a lowly piranha-gibbon” at the tender age of seven still doesn’t really excuse Angry Lady’s insensitive and callous attitude towards “Shuttup”, an apparently petrified “amnesiac urchin-boy who will quite possibly turn out to be a despicable monstrosity”.
Fortunately the British comic book writer’s narrative contains so very much more than the gloomy childhood ‘flashback’ scenes of the one-time Fearless Defender and instead swiftly strands Elsa “two hundred miles south of The Shield” with “lots and lots of zombies” between her and safety. Such a grave predicament provides Spurrier with plenty of opportunities to have Bloodstone battle the ever-hungry Undead, and also simultaneously tap deeply into Mark Millar’s extremely popular “Marvel Zombies” mythos.
In fact “Journey Into Misery” contains some truly excellent cameos from a handful of the meta-series’ most recognisable super-powered walking dead, such as a sinisterly decomposed “sssuuupeerior” Doctor Octopus and the leader of “the Legions of the Red Terror”, as well as the cause of Bloodstone’s trials and tribulations, the demonic humanoid teleporter Azazel. Arguably the highlight of the “2000 A.D.” author’s storyline however has to be the weaponless commander’s confrontation with the truly hideous-looking unstoppable Juggernaut. Not only does Cain Marko disgustingly try to lick his prey to death, on account of the ‘living corpse’ having no lips, but the event also causes Elsa’s Helix shard choker to activate for the first time and literally fry the empowered mutant zombie to pieces.
Kev Walker’s artwork conveys all this grisly death and destruction masterfully, with the Leeds-based penciller’s slightly cartoony, though well-detailed clean-lined drawings, proving to be very reminiscent in style to that of the “critically acclaimed” “Preacher” storyteller Steve Dillon. Indeed the former “Magic: The Gathering” collectible card game illustrator’s depictions of Azazel, Doctor Octopus and Juggernaut are outstanding, and clearly shows the artist’s “Marvel Zombies 3” and “Marvel Zombies 4” pedigree.
|The regular cover art of "MARVEL ZOMBIES" No. 1 by Greg Land|