The epic, line-wide event that is Marvel’s Secret Wars is coming with a whole lot of tie-ins that are being promoted in very unique ways, with this marketing technique leading to some equally good and equally bad outcomes for readers. On the bad side, very often the event the tie-in gets its name from doesn’t have anything much to do with the namesake event. On the other hand, however, the flexibility of these old stories from the dredges of Marvel’s history given new and creative spins from today’s stable of House of Ideas creators can result in something amazing. Although the 2005 Marvel Zombies event has its fair share of both fans and haters, the 2015 Secret Wars version of this well-known story displays each of good and bad natures of this event outlined above, but ignores the parts of the original Marvel Zombies story that left such a bad taste in the mouth of so may readers in lieu of completely changing the tale into more Sarah Connor than The Walking Dead. When it was all said and done, though, Marvel Zombies #1 was an entertaining and satisfying addition to Secret Wars.
In the patchwork planet created from the remnants of the multiverse and held together by the sheer will of God Doom, there is a barrier known as THE SHIELD. This enormous wall holds back the vast armies of evil Ultron robots, the endless swarms of the Annihilation Wave, and the relentless, unending hordes of undead that are the Marvel Zombies of the Deadlands. Sworn to protect the more civilized nations of Battleworld and defend THE SHIELD is an army of Battleworld’s finest, led by Commander Elsa Bloodstone. In the heat of battle, Commander Bloodstone is teleported deep into the Deadlands by a zombified Azazel, and must fight her way out. Surprisingly, Bloodstone discovers a lone child wh seemingly has survived the Deadlands all on his own. Unable to get back to THE SHIELD due to a gigantic horde of zombies, Elsa and this mystery child she is no charged with protecting look for safety elsewhere in the endless wastes of the Deadlands
You can really tell writer Simon Spurrier is having a great time writing the wisecracking, hard-nosed warrior Elsa Bloodstone, and this zombie fighting version of the character has the same feel as famous female action movie stars like Ripley and Sarah Connor. Bloodstone’s humorous and witty dialogue is perfectly balanced against flashbacks to Elsa’s past dealing with a father with larger than life expectations for his daughter, and is played off of the inclusion of the mystery child in expert fashion. While the zombies really take a backseat to Commander Bloodstone, Spurrier’s story is just fine without them, but the inclusion of a zombie Juggernaut was a great thing to behold.
Artist Kev Walker’s work is solid, clean, and full of great action shots, but the work truly shines on the various shots of Elsa herself. She’s just a great character, worthy of her own titles, and has been long overdue for some much deserved attention. What I’m really anxious to see is more zombie from Walker, because as awesome as zombie Juggernaut was, it was really only an appetizer to what I’m expecting from the artist.
The negative aspects of just about every Secret Wars tie-in is quite prevalent in this series, and this has about as little to do with Marvel Zombies as you can get…besides, of course, the presence of the Marvel Zombies themselves. And that presence was really only a few panels starring only two zombies. I just wanted more zombies in a book titles Marvel Zombies.
Despite the severe lack of zombies in a zombie comic book, Marvel Zombies #1 was a wildly enjoyable start to an action story starring a very entertaining and compelling character who desperately deserved the attention she is now getting in this book. Spurrier’s well told action tale has just enough heart and mystery to keep readers interested, and Walker’s artwork is a terrific accompaniment with great action sequences, consistent detail, and brilliant zombie depictions. Marvel Zombies #1 is a great start to what looks to be shaping up to be yet another must-read Secret Wars tie-in.