“Marvel Zombies” #1 opens with horror and outrage, as Elsa Bloodstone seeks vengeance for spilt tea. Writer Simon Spurrier has assigned Bloodstone a section post of the Shield to guard, and guard it she does, with grim determination, grit and vitality. Artist Kev Walker telegraphs everything the reader needs to know about Bloodstone with one image, and colorist Frank D’Armata gives it living color while letterer Clayton Cowles encapsulates the entire scene with four words meticulously set in different sizes and faces.
Bloodstone protects the Shield, a wall that sections off domains of Battleworld, and this comic is especially focused on the Deadlands and its zombie-infested hordes. D’Armata casts “Marvel Zombies” #1 in blue tones that bring along despair and coldness, fit for a world filled with undead attackers. His choice of atmospheric azure mixes nicely to emphasize Elsa Bloodstone’s red hair and orange jumpsuit, elevating her on the pages of this comic. Walker’s drawings appear to make D’Armata’s work easy, giving the colorist nice, clean spaces to fill. The duo work nicely together, with D’Armata casting nostalgic hues on the flashback scenes. Clayton Cowles rounds out the visuals with lettering that is essentially icing on the cake for this comic book.
Cowles bridges the art and Spurrier’s story marvelously. He shifts font size mid-sentence, identifying comments Elsa is making under her breath or even out of breath, and varies conversational balloon sizes and positions to maximize banter and interaction. That command of the character and near-complete presentation in what could be an introduction to Elsa Bloodstone for many readers is enough to win me over to this character and to “Marvel Zombies.” Spurrier has no problem finding Elsa’s voice and Elsa has no problem living Spurrier’s words. Like Jason Aaron’s recent work on “Thor,” Spurrier has found the character that works best for him and that he works best with.
The trappings of the Deadlands make a nice backdrop for Elsa’s introduction and exposition, but it also serves as a momentous plot device to drive this character and series. For effect and convenience, Spurrier adds a child to Elsa’s adventure, which provides opportune moments for some funny dialogue and nifty interactions.
The story in “Marvel Zombies” #1 is pretty straightforward, but Spurrier has fun with it, throws in some twists and bends and makes sure the reader is given a chance to join Elsa on her journey. “Secret Wars” has been a nice proving ground for Marvel, allowing creators to test out new ideas with old and new characters in familiar settings. Some of the concepts seem primed for launches into other media or into longer series. Such is the case for Elsa Bloodstone and “Marvel Zombies.” This is a solid introduction to a strong, enjoyable character and, while I’ve never been the biggest zombie fan, I’m definitely onboard for more Elsa Bloodstone and “Marvel Zombies.”