Surely this whole Marvel Zombies thing has run its course. After four complete series and a bunch of spin-offs and one-shots, there can’t possibly be anything left to say about zombies in and around the Marvel Universe, right?
Because this series has cowboys and martians (and who knows what else), and we haven’t seen that before.
Honestly, I can understand the reaction to even hearing about yet another “Marvel Zombies” comic. It’s easy to dismiss it as just another attempt to wring every last penny out of what was a surprisingly popular little series back in the days of Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips. But for all those readers who think, “seriously, another zombie comic from Marvel?” I recommend thinking about it another way. Do you also tend to say, “seriously, another superhero comic from Marvel?” Because if you don’t, then you’re clearly willing to read the same kind of genre stories again and again. And zombies, like superheroes, can be used to tell a whole lot of different kinds of stories within that genre.
Plus, you know, this thing has superheroes, too.
But what it also has is the Marvel wild west, and the opening sequence of this issue feature the best depiction of that setting I’ve seen in years. From the coffin of Kid Colt, out on display in the middle of town as a way to drum up business, to the confrontation with the temperance posse, this is a comic that knows how to tell a story set in the mythical old west. And when we meet the “Hurricane,” aka Harry Kane, an old Two-Gun Kid villain with the power to shoot real darn fast, we’re in that revisionist western mold of the later Peckinpah movies, or Clint Eastwood when he started directing himself.
And into that milieu, enter the zombies. It’s a perfect fit, really, with the dusty streets of the frontier town providing the perfect backdrop for a story about the relics of the past refusing to accept the progress that’s on the horizon. The risen zombies are a metaphor for an old west that won’t give way to the new frontier of science and technology as the railroad…ah, who am I kidding? It’s about zombies getting shot in the head by six-guns, and that’s all you need in a comic like this.
But with Fred Van Lente writing it, it’s also smarter than it needs to be, and with Kano and Tom Palmer drawing it, it looks like a Marvel western should look. Do I even have to mention Val Staples’ always-good coloring? Okay, I will. Val Staples coloring is always good.
I won’t spoil the surprise guest at the end of the issue, and the inclusion of that character may not help you take this comic any more seriously than you already do, but it’s “Marvel Zombies 5,” so I figure you’re having fun or you’re not sticking around anyways. And the cover of next issue shows some Killraven action, so the wild west setting isn’t bound to last.
Which is good, because I can only imagine the complaints: more zombies? More cowboys? Ugh.
Luckily, this comic doesn’t wallow in such negativity. It shoots it in the face.