Marvel Zombies 5

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Dr. Michael Morbius is close to finding a cure to the zombie disease threating to overtake multiple dimensions, including ours, but he’s going to need samples of other zombie types in order to do it, lucky for him there are two heroes just crazy enough to get them for him…Machine Man and Howard the Duck. Contains Marvel Zombies 5: 1-5

As a Marvel geek I have a confession to make…I often times forget that Howard the Duck is more than a fairly decent 80’s flick. He’s been a Marvel character since his 1973 introduction, though it wasn’t until 1976 that the small, dirty talking fowl got his very own comic line, still, I don’t think all but the most dedicated Marvel fans will know much about him. He remained relegated to a favorite among a few fans but in 1986 he’d get his shot in the arm with Howard the Duck, a movie based on the angry duck’s arrival on our planet. Though taking artistic liberties with the duck’s story, it still portrayed him pretty well (having a PG rating definitely hurt the movie though), earning him a whole new legion of fans who had never read the comic book, but it would be short lived as the foul mouthed fowl quickly receded toward the background of Marvel lore once more. It’s only been in recent years that he’s picked back up (namely with the Civil War storyline) but his involvement in Marvel Zombies 5 not only reintroduces the character to a wider audience but reminds me personally of why I love the guy…uhhhh, person duck thing.

Our story begins with a version of the Marvel Universe stuck in the Old West, and an interdimensional storm that is spreading the zombie virus throughout the various dimensions. This Old West universe is just the first of many to get hit, but amongst this tragedy two heroes arrive to lend a hand…or at least one hero and a duck. Machine Man and Howard the Duck are sent by A.R.M.O.R. scientist Michael Morbius to collect zombie samples from five different universes and this Old West universe is the first of the five, the others being:

– A universe ruled by Martians who fancy human babies as delicacies.

– A universe stuck in the Middle Ages in which the Black Knight has opened up the powers of the Darkhold and unleashed a zombie menace upon human kind.

– A universe tapped into the internet via cybernetic links and a virus that turns them into techno zombies.

– A universe where the Marvel superheroes are nothing more than comic books (in other words, ours).

Each universe offers its own specific zombie type that threatens to overrun it and the only hope for our universe is that the unlikely pairing of Howard the Duck and Machine Man can grab a blood sample from each.

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I had kind of hoped that this one would still contain The Midnight Sons, but I can understand Marvel wanting to keep changing things up so I won’t hold it against them (well, maybe just a little). Besides, I actually liked their pairing of Machine Man and Howard the Duck, two heroes who, if you think about it, do kind of make sense together. They seem like an unlikely duo, but their attitudes make them perfect for each other. That’s probably Marvel Zombies 5’s greatest strength, the inclusion and pairing of the metal man and the angry fowl, they add a great level of fun to the storyline, but don’t worry, the blood and guts are still there too (not nearly as prevalent sadly), though the artwork is more than a little different.

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{You do get to see a very drunk Machine Man at one point, so there’s that, losing a significant other makes anyone, man or machine, want to get wasted}

New artistic talent was brought in for Part 5 and though I still think Kev Walker (artist for Parts 3 and 4) did the best so far, the artwork continues to be impressive, if just a little downgraded for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the gore has been toned down a bit and you really don’t see many individuals die, you might see some large scale death but none of the individual damage that was so frequent in previous issues and for another thing, it has a much lighter atmosphere and flashier colors than its counterparts. What I mean by the last bit is that the images are much more colorful and seem geared more towards kids. That’s probably the best way to describe this whole set, Marvel Zombies 5 looks like it was created for a much younger generation. Again, the artwork isn’t bad, I just preferred the darker styling and graphic nature of the last 7 in the series (Part 5 is technically Part 8).

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{This badass taking out legions of the undead was cool, I will say that}

The toning down of the Marvel Zombies comics spreads out into the story as well. I did like the story for Part 5, but it was so light hearted for the most part, with a little too much comedy thrown into the mix. The comedy isn’t necessarily bad, Howard the Duck and Machine Man are cynical, sarcastic assholes for the most part and some of their banter is funny, but there was just too much it. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few more serious moments to the storyline but not many, just expect a lot of jokes. The saving grace is the imagination put into the 5 different worlds our heroes visit. Not only are most of the worlds pretty interesting (the cyber world was a little too Johnny Mnemonic for me), but they take the time to show us some interesting alternate versions of some of our favorite characters. My favorite world was surprisingly the “normal” one, a world that I’m guessing is supposed to be ours more or less. I loved the central character of this world (Wendell, a nerdy loner with a major comic book fetish) and his slow turn toward the undead.

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{Poor, nerdy Wendell, interesting outfit though}

The covers aren’t alternate versions of older covers but new ones created specifically for Part 5. Honestly can’t say I was very impressed with most of them, but there was one that I thought was one of the best yet, a cover with Machine Man and Howard the Duck hiding behind cereal boxes while the undead trundle on by. Most assuredly missing the alternate zombie covers I’d come to love though.

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{My favorite cover}

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{As shown by these covers, they’re not bad, the Heroic Age one in particular is great, they just aren’t as impressive as the covers I’ve gotten used to in the other collections}

I’m not going to say that this one isn’t worth owning because it’s still a good addition to the overall storyline, I’m just saying not to expect this to be the best of the bunch and go into it thinking it’s going to be as dark as the other ones.

 

The Undead Review

 

 

Written By: Fred Van Lente

Artwork By: Kano, Felix Ruiz, and Fernando Blanco

Published By: Marvel Publications

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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