The last remaining zombies of Earth-2149, including the surviving Galacti, were banished to an alternate universe by the few humans left alive in that universe, but the zombie menace is far from over. When an undead Giant Man finds The Watcher’s interdimensional transporter he tries to use it to spread the Hunger Gospel to every corner of the Marvel universe. Collecting Marvel Zombies: Return 1 – 5.
I’ve always wondered what hanging out with an undead Spiderman would be like. I mean, I’ve often wondered what hanging out with Spiderman would be like period because, undead or not, I’m a huge nerd, but an undead Spiderman just seems so much cooler than a regular Spiderman. Sure, I could probably fight crime with regular Spiderman, maybe meet some of his frequent team up partners like Hulk or Wolverine, swing from rooftop to rooftop praying and hoping that I don’t have an arm or a leg fall off, but here’s the thing…I’m a really lazy zombie. I don’t care much for fighting crime, most Marvel heroes would most likely try to end me, and I hate heights, so the whole superhero thing doesn’t appeal to me. Hell, I can’t even be asked to chase my meals down if they’re lucky enough to get away from my initial attempt to grab them. However, hanging out with an undead Spiderman who just wants to eat people, that I could get down with, plus, while I lazily finish the last season of Big Bang Theory he can go grab our two legged dinner. See, it’s a win, win situation.
Our return (get it) to the beginnings of the Marvel Zombie universe takes us back to where Marvel Zombies 2 left off. We start out with Uatu, otherwise known as The Watcher, giving us a brief lesson in the history of the Marvel Zombies that leaves off with the undead superheroes being transported away from their world (as seen at the end of Marvel Zombies 2). Uatu is trying to locate where they were transported to when he finds an undead Spiderman in the world of Earth Z (yeah, they didn’t try too hard with the name on that one). Spiderman finds himself still among the undead but without his power cosmic, theorizing that the transporter used to expel them from their previous universe must have stripped all the Galacti of their cosmic powers. Lucky for him (depending on who you ask anyhow), his body remembers when he could shoot an organic webbing (Earth-2149 Spiderman shot webbing straight out of his wrists instead of through web shooters), and though said webbing dried up shortly after his death, he is able to use his veins and arteries to swing around the city much as he would have used webbing had he still been alive. Discovering that a tablet capable of restoring one’s youth will be at the ESU campus (a storyline from a past Spiderman comic that saw Silvermane and Kingpin go head to head with the web head in the middle) Spiderman believes that if he can get his hands on the tablet he will be able to restore the life he lost to the zombie virus. Unfortunately things go wrong and suffice it to say a lot of people end up dead (including the Peter Parker of Earth Z) prompting the undead web crawler to give up his quest for life and seek only to control his own hunger, and possibly put an end to the other former members of the Galacti who were banished along with him. While Spiderman may have noble motives for his own unlife, not all his brethren are the same way. An undead Giant Man was transported to the same universe but on the Blue Area of the moon where he devours Uatu and takes over his station, hoping to master The Watcher’s own interdimensional transporter so he can spread the Hunger Gospel across the multiverse. It’s up to Spiderman to not only seek out and find the other zombies before they can spread the disease further, but stop Giant Man before he can take the Hunger Gospel where he pleases and destroy all of the Marvel multiverse in the process.
Since the end of Marvel Zombies 2 I’ve been wondering where the undead superheroes might have ended up. It was understandable for Marvel to take the zombies in a different direction by adding in some different storylines and introducing a few new characters to the Marvel Zombie universe instead of continuing to play on a storyline they’d continued through four different series. We’d already had Marvel Zombies, Marvel Zombies 2, Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, and Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness, as well as a few branch out editions that reached into the stories for Ultimate Fantastic Four, so I not only understood Marvel taking things in a different direction but I entirely agreed with the decision. It kept things from getting overly stale and boring. There are more than several examples of Marvel playing out a storyline for so long that the reader eventually gave up caring what happened next, so it was smart for them to avoid doing so here. It made sure the Marvel Zombies remained fresh and interesting, not to mention Marvel Zombies 3, 4, and 5 had some great stories in and of themselves. That being said, I always wondered what happened to those members of the Galacti that were transported away from their world as their story ended so abruptly. Thankfully I finally have my answer, and I can’t tell you how happy I was with it. What was nice was that with the break from the Galacti storyline previously, I didn’t feel that the story was stale when Marvel went back to it with this series. In fact, it felt fresh all over again and I loved digging back into their story and discovering their ultimate fate.
Marvel Zombies: Return might just be my favorite addition to the Marvel Zombie universe yet. The story was absolutely amazing (adding zombie author Jonathan Maberry might have helped with that) and not only does it completely wrap up the Galacti storyline, the storyline that began it all, but it reinvents some classic stories as well, warping them in such a way that they fit in perfectly here. They aren’t changed in the main 616 universe mind you, but on Earth Z, events that have already happened previously are just occurring and the addition of the zombies are altering what we know. These include:
- The battle between Silverman and Kingpin over an ancient tablet that may grant eternal youth in which the Sinister Six are formed to battle Spiderman. This time around though the Sinister Six face not a human Peter Parker, but the undead version who is facing the resurgence of his hunger for flesh.
- The Demon in a Bottle storyline in which Tony Stark succumbs to crippling alcoholism and begins losing everything to his addiction. Only now, in the midst of his whiskey soaked obliteration, he must deal with an undead Giant Man who begins zombifying or devouring everyone in Stark Tower.
- Wolverine and Kitty Pryde’s trials in Japan against the Hand Ninja Clan. Previously it was enough for them to struggle against the ancient Japanese order of ninjas but when an undead Wolverine shows up to end his still living rival it’s up to Peter Parker to use the still living Wolverine’s blood to develop a treatment for the virus.
- The beginning of the World War Hulk story arc that has Hulk and his Warbound showing up on the moon to pick a fight with Black Bolt and his Inhumans, but zombie Giant Man beat them there this time around and has already zombified everyone living on the Blue Area of the moon.
Each issue takes on one of these storylines, throwing in a few extra characters for some added surprises. The last issue is an all-new story that combines the previous four issues into one final fight that perfectly wraps up the story of the Galacti in an extremely satisfying way and finally explains how the whole mess started in the first place. I won’t ruin it for but I will say I was extremely impressed with the creativity the end presented.
The artwork for Marvel Zombies: Return was amazing as well, easily some of the best of the series, showcasing some great talent in the artists involved. The story goes back to the dark and disturbing side that I loved so much early on but which had been slowly eroding as the series went on, becoming more light hearted with each addition. The darkness of the story is perfectly complimented by the gory, bleak, and sinister artwork. I could not have been happier with how great it looked. I’d go on record as saying not only is this the best artwork of the entire Marvel Zombies series, but some of the best Marvel has shown period. We also get not just the alternate covers I’ve repeatedly stated as being one of my favorite things about the Marvel Zombies comics but some amazing original covers as well.
All in all this is a great part of the Marvel Zombies universe, and I can’t state enough just how amazing it is. There is a reason this one was my favorite yet and I can only hope they keep up the great work.
The Undead Review
Published By: Marvel Comics
Written By: Fred Van Lente, David Wellington, Jonathan Maberry, and Seth Grahme-Smith
Artwork By: Nick Dragotta, Andrea Mutti, Jason Shawn Alexander, Richard Elson, and Wellington Alves