As we enter the second act of the superhero-zombie fad, we have to ask ourselves a few questions: Can you really go wrong when you mix zombies and superheroes? If so, how? And, are you sure you can go wrong? Because superheroes are cool, and zombies are cool right? Right?
It does seem like a perfect match, with muscle-bound heroes standing strong against the unstoppable zombie hordes, but all “Super Zombies” #3 demonstrates is that the second act of the zombie fad can’t end soon enough, and when the third act comes (in DC’s “Blackest Night,” perhaps, which pits literal super-zombies against guys with scientifico-magical rings!), it had better do things better than this comic does, because there’s not a whole lot here to like.
Mel Rubi’s art is decent enough, and he knows how to draw the superhero form, but he’s not helped by the no-inking technique Dynamite has chosen to employ here. This comic is apparently scanned directly from his pencil art, then digitally painted over that, in much the same way that the “Project: Superpowers” comics have been handled. This is less “painterly” than those comics, but no less ugly. Rubi’s pencils are tight enough so that the lack of inking still makes the action readable, but the tightness of Rubi’s pencils might be one of the problems. Since they aren’t loose enough to add any character to the pages, what we end up getting is the equivalent of sloppy holding lines. Characters and backgrounds that look a little blurry, a little but smudged, because there are no crisp brush or pen strokes to polish them off.
And the story by Marc Guggenheim and Vince Gonzales is of a tier lower than previous superhero-zombie comics. This comic lacks the wit of “Marvel Zombies” (it lacks the wit of “Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness,” even), and it doesn’t replace it with enough convincing drama to make up for its arch-seriousness. Instead, we get a gaggle of superheroes who look like rejects from a b-grade “Sovereign Seven,” and a whole lot of running around trying to avoid a zombie plague. (Oh, and a naked Superman analogue flitting from scene to scene as well.) The zombie plague seems to have sci-fi origins in some sort of nanovirus, but the measure of a good zombie comic isn’t how well it explains its viruses, it’s how compelling the characters are. Say what you will about the trashy darkness of “Marvel Zombies” (and its sequels), but the characters were compelling in their own twisted way. “Walking Dead,” even more so. But Robert Kirkman isn’t involved in this comic, and maybe he’s the only one with the sensibilities to pull off this kind of stuff with any regularity.
The dialogue is mostly atrocious too, with lines like “there was less gore than ‘An Inconvenient Truth” in response to a messy inside-out zombie moment, and a character who says, “an old cliche just came to mind…’out of the frying pan and into the fire.'” When you’re dealing with a comic book which by its very nature has to use economical dialogue — only so many word balloons can fit comfortably on a page — you might think that each slice of dialogue would be used more wisely, more effectively, for something other than terrible jokes or filler. But with “Super Zombies” #3, you’d be wrong.
This is scheduled to be a five-issue miniseries, with more comics planned if this first one finds an audience. While I’m all for creators producing as many comics as they want, and I have a predisposition toward anything superhero or zombie-related, I don’t think this is a comic worth reading. I certainly won’t be back for more.