Ever since its first incarnation, Marvel Zombies was a rogue series. Based on an industry in-joke, it capitalized on the trend for zombie chic that has pervaded all popular culture over the latter half of the decade. Now, though, as Marvel Zombies reaches its fifth (or even sixth, if you count the Army-of-Darkness crossover) series, the zombie fad is winding down, and the joke here seems to be how long a one-joke concept can be kept walking even though it’s dead on its feet.
Now, let’s be fair. This incarnation of the Marvel Zombies series does, once again, place a slightly different spin on the idea of zombie versions of Marvel characters killing and eating one another. If Series 3’s pitch was “Robots Vs. Zombies” and Series 4’s was “Midnight Sons Vs. Zombies” then this issue’s is “The Silver Age Vs. Zombies” as the Zombie Spider-Man lands in an alternate reality where things look. . . rather familiar.
The tone is far more openly comedic than the collective Zombies series have been thus far. Van Lente hams it up marvelously, giving Zombie Spider-Man some massively overwrought monologues — but whether they work alongside the gore is another matter. Scenes where the same character uses his veins and arteries as “webbing” sit rather uneasily alongside the tone that the dialogue and art are delivered in. While Van Lente goes for pastiche, Dragotta can settle comfortably on imitation, and his Romita-esque artwork is one area that doesn’t fall at any hurdle, whether depicting some truly disgusting images, or nailing the comedic timing of the script.
Shoving the zombies into a 60s Marvel-verse where the inhabitants are ill-equipped to deal with such a violent reality is an amusing idea, but I’m not sure it works as well as it could in this issue. There are some moments that hit exactly the right note — the scene where the Sandman realizes that the silver-age rules on violence don’t apply anymore is grimly entertaining — but however amusing it is, if you’re not already laughing at the idea of Marvel Zombies after this long, this overtly comedic spin probably isn’t going to change your mind.