Marvel Pick Of The Week – August 26, 2015 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Marvel Zombies 3, by Si Spurrier and Kev Walker

Marvel Zombies has been one of my favorite Secret Wars titles because it hits so many of my buttons. Complicated female lead? Check. Elsa Bloodstone is a tough military leader of Battleworld’s Shield wall, using witty insults to keep her people in line until a teleporting zombie drops her into an undead wasteland. She’s confident and brutal enough to survive, but she has a sensitive side, too. Her gender is key to her character without defining her, and I love that. Scary action? Got it in spades. Zombies have been jumping out all over this miniseries, though never as a distraction from the exquisite character work. Psychological issues? On pretty much every other page, Elsa is remembering her abusive upbringing by her monstrous father, and she has owned a lot of this but has thus far seemed blind to the impact her wounds have on her present day decisions.

This issue elevated all of the best parts of the book. At the close of the second book, Elsa’s companion, a mysterious androgynous orphan she named “Shut Up” was captured by an intelligent cadre of zombies, so this issue has the rescue. But the difficult decisions she has to make to pull Shut Up out of the putrid clutches of Mystique pull up some of the ugly lessons her father taught, like how killing innocents is justified under a “War is Cost” mentality. This time, however, she tells her sidekick how she learned some of these lessons, and the child’s shocked responses help Elsa to realize how messed up the whole story is. She revisits episodes with a more objective lens, and she’s able to remember and understand how happy she was at the old man’s funeral. This whets the reader’s appetite for the inevitable confrontation with the animated corpse of her father, so this issue’s reveal is not so surprising, but the manner of that reveal is one of the most horrific scenes in a series dripping with gore and trauma.

Reading Marvel Zombies is an exhausting, rewarding experience. Elsa’s trauma does not make her less of a leader, but she still has room to grow, and watching her learn that telling stories to a person helps more than just chewing them in her head is as strong a recommendation for psychotherapy as I’ve seen in recent comics. I hope people reading this book will love the action and characterization, but more, I hope people will see how accepting help can be an act of bravery, how we can change our interpretation of our pasts, how we have the right to reject the labels we’ve been given. This is one of my favorite series I’ve read all year.

Honorable Mentions:

Old Man Logan 4, for this gorgeous tryptich of Wolverine and She-Hulk commiserating about how much it sucks to be surrounded by zombies. Bendis’s writing and Sorrentino’s art are at the top of both their games.

Last Days Of Ant-Man 1, because this scene of Ant-Man and the new Beetle the morning after is exactly the way Nick Spencer’s humor is supposed to work.

Hank Johnson, Agent Of Hydra 1, for this scene of Hydra supervillains at a school fundraiser, a notable couple of panels in an issue jam packed with lovely absurd domestic humor.

Check out previous Picks here!

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