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A little known fact about spiders is that some shed their skin...
Jason Schachat's
Occasional Breakdown
12/13/05 page 4
page 1
, page 2, page 3

Only recent readers of Ultimate Fantastic Four will likely remember the dimension that plays host to Marvel Zombies #1, but, wow, does it work well for such a strange spinoff.

Oh, let’s be honest: this has been in the works for a while and would’ve been released regardless of whether people hated “Crossover” or not.

The surprising thing is that writer Robert Kirkman is able to start from the climactic moment of that arc, when the alternate reality Magneto stays behind and destroys the portal. As readers will remember, that was brave not only because the explosion would most likely kill him, but the area around the blast radius was swarming with zombified superheroes.

Now, Mags has to take on an army of the undead alone, and we watch enthusiastically as he does just what we expect, hurling girders and cars into his enemies, making sure to decapitate them whenever possible, and avoiding getting bitten at all costs. And then, in the triumphant moment when it seems like Magneto will dominate them like the lovably deific bastard he is, the zombie Wasp pops up behind him and takes a chunk out of his neck.

Hook, line, and sinker.

Kirkman knows we’re expecting a miniseries about Magneto powering through the zombie Earth and eventually triumphing (maybe even saving the last of humanity and starting a new society based more on Xavier’s vision than his own). Why, that’s the kind of stuff we see all the time in alternate realities.

But no, Kirkman kills off Magneto (keeping him around just long enough to mislead us as well as reveal that Asteroid M is still floating above the Earth and housing the last remnants of humanity). The zombies swarm him, rip him to shreds and feast on his entrails.

And then what does he do? He sits us down with the zombies and has us watch them discuss their plight. How there’s no more food around. How they no longer breathe, bleed, digest, or feel pain. Even removing their brains doesn’t kill them, so is it even possible for them to die?

I don’t like most of the work Kirkman’s done for Marvel, but this is the kind of unique story that put him on the map in the first place. Zombies and self-examination aside, it bears absolutely no resemblance to The Walking Dead. These zombies are intelligent, thoughtful, strange, and on a mission to eat every living thing they see.

Of course, by choosing such an unusual path, Kirkman’s opened his story up to any number of pitfalls, and it’s always possible it’ll start to fester like the zombies it features, but the foreshadowing of Asteroid M promises to keep the miniseries moving. Marvel Zombies scores a definite win on this outing. No prior reading required, you can just pick it up and enjoy the carnage– but stay for the banter.

Shift? Shift? You're taking SHIFT?!?
If only banter could save Outsiders #31...

It seems like, no matter what happens, this book can’t keep from going down the tubes on a regular basis. Since Judd Winick usually does a decent job of writing it, that usually means we put the blame on the ever-changing art team...

And, sweet lord almighty, do they have a bad time of it this month.

Apparently, penciller Matthew Clark couldn’t finish the issue, so we’re subjected to a couple truly appalling scenes by Dietrich Smith. While Clark seems more than willing to leave backgrounds empty, Smith skips backgrounds entirely. Worse yet, normally reliable colorist Guy Major doesn’t make up for the lack of detail, and the end result is possibly the worst looking mainstream comic art of the year.

Story-wise, Winick gives us a nice moment where Grace reminds Arsenal that he’s more of a swashbuckler than the brooding leader type Nightwing is, which prompts Roy to lead the team on a crusade against the Society. Meanwhile, Donna Troy organizes Starfire, Jade, Captain Marvel Jr., and Shift to join her Infinite Crisis army, but things go awry when Marvel senses the forces of magic going out of whack and Starfire feels the presence of her god.

Frankly, you could get all the facts from reading a summary paragraph. Actually, you just did.

Aside from the ending where something goes wrong and a new foe appears on the scene, you’ll get everything you need to know from the advertisements. Do yourself a favor and avoid buying this issue at all costs. The next issue might not make you want to gouge your eyes out, but this one will have you digging a melon-baller into your eye sockets in no time.

Jason Schachat

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