Category Archives: fred van lante

Marvel Zombies 3 – issue 4 review (2009)


Let me start this review by saying that the third series of Marvel Zombies will not be the last. Anyone who reads comic books is hardly going to be surprised that Marvel are not going to kill off one of their cash cows (i assume that Marvel Zombies 3 has done comparable business to Kirkmans initial foray and its sequel). The fact that they have managed to build up a level of excitement (as far as I am concerned) for the next installment is a tribute to what Marvel are trying to do here.

So what do I think they are trying to do with Marvel Zombies? I think they are now using the success and recognition of the title as an opportunity to give a run out to some of the B and c list Superheroes in the Marvel Universe. In Marvel Zombies 3, it has done a great service to Jocasta and Machine Man as the central characters and heroes. Machine Man has been a revelation to me, as he has been showcased as an all-out action hero with elements of Schwazeneggers invincibilty and Willis’ humour, along with a formidable body-as-weapon arsenal. It worked for me.

Jocasta, also, flourished in a role where nothing but desperate actions on her part would secure Earths survival. Throughout this series in particular, without the novelty of seeing the big guns ‘zombiefied’ (Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine etc), those Zombies that have been present have taken less prominence. The tone of the title has changed. However, there are still a lot of characters that they can play around with who provide entertainment (Black Bolt, Lockjaw, Kingpin – Kingpin in particular has a great scene towards the end of issue 4).

Whereas the focus of 1 & 2 was on the perspective of the Zombies and their hunger driven devastation of worlds, Marvel Zombies 3 has been about how Heroes have tried to combat the threat. So the title ends with the exciting build up to part 4. With Machine Man and Jocasta exiting stage left, Morbius steps up to the centre stage full of purpose and revenge and bringing with him a tantalising supporting cast.
This is where my point about showcasing the lesser known heroes is clearly illustrated; does anyone want a new title starring the ‘Midnight Sons‘?? Probably not.
Will people read Marvel Zombies 4, starring the ‘Midnight Sons’? Probably. It is another High Concept; ‘Monsters vs. Zombies’. This one, has a good feel to it.

As a standalone issue, the fourth and final issue had maintained the fun, fury, action and gore of the previous three issues. As a series, Marvel Zombies 3 managed something that I thought would not have been possible when I heard of its inception – it managed to be as good as the Kirkman titles previously in the series. Great writing from Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker got the art spot on with a visceral, humourous style. Let’s hope that ‘4’ is an equal to those that have gone before it.

Marvel Zombies 3 – a review at the halfway point (2008)

After Robert Kirkman confirmed he would not be following up on his first 2 series of Marvel Zombies, I wondered, when the inevitable (because of the popularity of the franchise) Marvel Zombies 3 was announced, if the title could recover from the loss of a talent like Kirkman. Personally, I thought the fist episode of this new series was a scene setter and it took a little time to get used to. Maybe it was the change in emphasis, like the new characters and the action being based on ‘this’ Earth (and lets face it, there aren’t going to be any major superhero fatalities here, are there??), but issue number 1 didn’t quite gel. Maybe I was just being prejudiced, but I didn’t have high hopes for this third instalment of the franchise. However, after reading the second issue, I am firmly of the belief that this could turn out to be as good as the previous series.

The writer, Fred Van Lente has excelled himself here, giving lower division heroes a chance to shine. Both Machine Man and Jocasta take centre stage and are great in this second issue, establishing a sparky sort of camaraderie you would need in such dire circumstances. Machine Man is especially good, portrayed as a tragic hero, his bluster and adopted ‘human’ negativity eventually being over-ridden by his innate goodness.

Being part of the ‘interdimensional defence agency A.R.M.O.R’ these two heroes have been sent from ‘our world’, the world that houses the majority of the heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe, to a parallel world where the zombie infestation began and left utter devastation in its terrible wake. As our world is threatened, it is up to Machine Man and Jocasta to find a human on that other world and collect some blood from them in the hope that this will provide the basis of a cure to the virus of the undead. That is the plot, but in that you get plenty of gory action and gross humour (like swinging on intestines until they split, and guess what pops out??), and also the other more sombre and chilling moments that make this episode stand out. You’ll know what I mean when you get to the bit where the Inhumans (the undead Inhumans…) turn up for a Banquet…..

Having the Kingpin as the main Zombie makes sense, after all, who else would be able to seize power so efficiently in a power vacuum? His secret is also perfectly believable in this unreal and undead world.

Towards the end of the episode, when Machine Man sees such terrible things that his anger at the human race is dwarfed by his revulsion of the zombies, and he goes into all out action mode, thenthe whole thing really gets elevated to the category of ‘great comic book’. This is helped immensely by the artwork of Kev Walker who does a grand job of portraying the misery of the damned, the evil and debased undead and some stirring staging of action scenes. A great cliffhanger at the end as well.

If you haven’t indulged in Marvel Zombies 3 yet, don’t wait for the Trade, pick it up now and get into the sleeper hit of the autumn – it is shaping up to be that good.