Marvel Zombies 2
Medium: comic
Year: 2007
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Sean Phillips
Keywords: superhero, zombies
Format: 5-issue limited series
Website category: Comics
Review date: 28 December 2021
There are lots of sequels to Marvel Zombies, but they're in an unintuitive order and will sometimes be crossovers with Army of Darkness or guest-starring Howard the Duck or something. Forty years have passed and the Marvel Zombies have eaten all life in the universe. There's nothing left. No planets. There might be a few odds and ends lurking somewhere, but basically they've killed us all.
There is some good news, though. 1. Back on Earth, a few uninfected humans have survived. 2. A Marvel Zombie who doesn't eat for long enough can overcome the urge to do so. (They call it the Hunger.) They'll basically be themselves again. Still rotting and undead, of course, but no longer evil. They're still intelligent, they have their superpowers and they're capable of altruism. In other words, we now have good and bad Marvel Zombies. There's at least one on Earth and the possibility of one or two among the universe-eaters.
That first series was out-and-out comedy. I don't even find it bleak, because there's very little conflict between its evil protagonists and the few, inconsequential goodies. It's just the adventures of Evil Bastard Heroes who want to eat you. You're cheering them on, because it's funny. This series, though, feels paradoxically darker. It has actual heroes. Not just flesh-eating superheroes, but genuinely good protagonists who are trying to do the right thing. If they got eaten, that wouldn't be funny at all. We care about them (which definitely wasn't the case with anyone last time) and we'll react strongly when it transpires that sometimes the uninfected are as dangerous as the undead.
The original's ending is heading for a literally astronomical body count, but I found the sequel's ending more shocking.
It's not completely without comedy. There are laughs between Spider-Man and Luke Cage, for instance. Basically, though, it's pretty grim. There's self-sacrifice. We feel the deaths. This is a much more conventional kind of story than the original Marvel Zombies, but I also thought it was very good and even arguably (by non-comedy measures) stronger. It's playing the concept straight. It ends on a cliffhanger and I was tempted to buy the next in the series, but trying to find out what happened next led me into a swamp of criss-crossing sequels. Marvel Zombies 3-5 are set between 1 and 2, while Marvel Zombies Return is the one that continues from 2. Also, #3 is where Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker took over. (I have nothing against either of those creators, but for me right now this feels like Kirkman and Philips's baby.)
This one's good. Don't believe its detractors. Just don't expect to laugh and laugh.