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Marvel Pick Of The Week – June 10, 2015 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Marvel Zombies 1, by Si Spurrier and Kev Walker

The Marvel Zombies titles have been pretty uneven over the last few years. The phrase originally meant a superfan of the publishing line, but in Ultimate Fantastic Four, Reed Richards was trying to explore dimensions and ended up in a world where all the familiar Marvel-616 heroes were flesh-eating monsters. The label was cheeky, but the delivery was intense and horrific, made all the better by threatening a more traditionally optimistic title. The popularity of the story led to a few miniseries. At best, readers were thrilled by narrow escapes, shocked by the degradation of beloved heroes, and amused by the humor in the concept. The Deadpool of this universe, for instance, was a disembodied head called Headpool: The Merc With Just A Mouth, and he was delightful enough for a 13-issue miniseries. At worst, the series could be dull or just grim.

This Battleworld miniseries is one of the best examples of the Marvel Zombies concept yet. For weeks, readers of the Secret Wars miniseries and tie-in books have heard that lawbreakers get sent to the Deadlands to be executed by zombies or conscripted into service guarding the Shield that holds the monsters at bay. With this book, Si Spurrier explores some of the life on the wall and a little of the Hellscape beyond the southern border. But all things considered, there are only three prominent zombies (Azazel, Doctor Octopus, and Juggernaut). Kev Walker draws them with amazing body horror and pulls back just before he hits a distasteful gore spot – this is nothing like his work on Avengers Arena except that it is also freaking amazing.

Instead of cackling his way through another iteration of a campfire tale, Spurrier instead uses his platform to present the character of Elsa Bloodstone. This tough-talking British monster hunter has stolen scenes in Nextwave and Fearless Defenders, but it’s been years since she’s led her own title. The Battleworld version of Elsa is hilarious and mean, from telling a dying soldier, “Blubbing is not allowed,” to naming an androgynous orphan child “Shut Up” because she figures that’s all she’ll be saying to it anyway. It’s all the tough leadership of Buffy from season 7 but pushed to a slightly darker place. Even more interesting, the latter half of the book hints at serious emotional abuse from her father (“From the moment they said ‘It’s a girl,’ you’ve demonstrated one weakness after another” is a line that will haunt me much longer than images of the zombies ever will). It’s not to sell Elsa as a wounded girl in need of rescue and therapy. It’s to show Elsa as a confident woman who chooses to learn from her past, but who also probably has a blind spot about how this has shaped her self-image. She’s a richly textured character, and she’s one more gift from the astounding Secret Wars event.

Honorable Mentions:

Spider-Gwen 5, because this version of Felicia Hardy is a sexy French thief who once strangled punk rock Mary Jane with a mic cord and has a Katy Perry type of pop show only instead of sharks she has people dressed up as cats in berets and they play keytaurs and fight ninjas. I love it so much it is hard to keep typing.

X-Men ’92 2,  because Cassandra Nova was, in my mind, one of the weakest parts of Morrison’s spectacularly inventive X-Men run, but with this digital comic, she gets a much more scientifically sound (and lovably bursting with 90’s excess) origin. This is a scary, scary foe.

Captain America And The Mighty Avengers 9, for breaking my heart with this scene. The world is ending, Soraya is headed home, but she chooses to take an emergency call from a man who is scared to die alone, and she stays on the line with him because she is a gosh-danged hero.

Catch up on previous Picks here!

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