“Marvel Zombies” #3 offers another reason for Marvel to give Elsa Bloodstone an ongoing series under the care of writer Simon Spurrier and artist Kev Walker. Granted, part of the appeal is the openness afforded by the anything-goes nature of the “Secret Wars” event, and the continuity within these pages only stretches back three issues at most.
That’s only part of the appeal, however, as Spurrier gives Elsa Bloodstone a tough-as-nails personality anchored by determination and dedication to her mission. Underneath that hardened, take-no-guff exterior, however, Bloodstone is shown to be human and warm, traits brought out by her young charge. That youth also coaxes out flashbacks through which Spurrier informs readers of Bloodstone’s upbringing and training. The overall feel Bloodstone projects is not unlike early Wolverine tales, with a primal, fierce protagonist carrying around a buried past that haunts and drives the development of the characters.
A fight with zombies can be one-note or simply overdone, but Spurrier has found a way to make this appealing and entertaining. Spurrier adds in Deadpool and serves him up as the “Ever-meat,” but also uses Deadpool’s wackiness to inject some humor (albeit of the gallows variety) into the story. The rest of the issue is a riveting mix of horror and high-octane adventure, which could just as easily be occupying its own space rather than inhabiting a sliver of the “Secret Wars” Battleworld.
The visuals are nothing short of impressive. If letterer Clayton Cowles doesn’t win some sort of award for crafting a spork-shaped word balloon, then perhaps a new award needs to be invented. Beyond that single word balloon, Cowles adds in bold sound effects like “BOKK” and “SHULK” and the always classic “RRRIP” alongside word balloons that forge new ground with zombie-speak, as well as the combination of zombie and other into a haunting new sound described through innovative lettering.
Walker’s art is strong and distinct throughout the issue. The story liberates the backgrounds, which are mostly bold hues layered in by colorist Frank D’Armata. He uses a tight range of tones, including a rich blue that trends close to pure cyan but stays cooler and a blazing set of reds. D’Armata puts as much story into his colors as Walker draws into the panels and the two come together nicely to make “Marvel Zombies” #3 a good-looking comic. Walker’s range of emotions and his storytelling choices give the issue a nice snap and the artist packs the visuals with detail, both in what is directly drawn and what is implied.
Even though I’m not a dedicated reader of zombie comics, I find myself looking forward to “Marvel Zombies” and the work Spurrier, Walker, D’Armata and Cowles bring to this series. This series feels like an Indiana Jones adventure in a twisted version of the Marvel universe, and that is, essentially what “Marvel Zombies” #3 is. Spurrier brings a nice balance of fun, adventure, excitement and mystery into this story and transforms Elsa Bloodstone into a must-read Marvel character.