*Spoilers in the descriptive part of this review*
Who would have thunk that the beloved heroes they grew up with would land in such a bizarre story? I know most children watched on with fascination as Spiderman merrily weaved his web, as Wolverine sharpened his claws, while Captain American shielded the innocent from the depraved, and even while the Incredible Hulk beat his chest in ego. It would have been difficult to imagine then that a story would come along showing the world saviors have placed self-centered slaughter over the survival of mankind, yet here we are.
You have to give kudos to the imaginations that came up with this, folks, as who would have thought such a morbidly twisted story would ensue, and be rich with humor along the way? After looking at what I've wrote so far on this review, I have to say the only power I could ever be capable of possessing would be super-enhanced babbling, so let's get to it shall we?
The first "series" has been divided into five comics, which I have read and reviewed in one hardcover compilation. Kirkman focuses on humor and interposing needless gore often to keep the smile meter raised. As far as plot goes, no humans are in sight and have obviously been killed off and eaten. The superheroes remain, in pieces, with active minds and continuous discussion. Their brains have not been affected by the disease, yet of course the hunger has changed their personalities completely.
Their discussions involve planning and meditating on finding new food, and that's about it. Everything is clearly focused now only on what their new diet is. They still express remorse for their vicious acts once the hunger is abated, but with nowhere near their previous moral standing. Spiderman in particular seems to express the most regret once having a chow down, sobbing about his wife and aunt, while the others just say, "Yes, Spiderman, we've eaten someone close to us too, just get over it already." I try to think of why they made him stand out as the more sympathetic of the bunch, but fail.
Looking at each comic individually:
The first story, Magneto, was more startling as it shows the last stander, uninfected and stubborn to the last, desperate to fight and escape his fellow-superheroes. This was one of the more dramatically serious of the issues, with an underlying grimness. The better fight sequence, Captain America gets his own shield used against him, cutting off the top of his head and exposing brains in a pulpy comic manner. Spiderman gets one leg ripped in half and must try to get assistance on the backs of others through the rest of the story. Subjects brought up are how they are digesting food in the first place if they appear dead, if their bodies can rejuvenate, and the disappearance of their existing powers as they further decay. The Incredible Hulk is a major character, and Kirkman seems to take great delight in making him experience some of the worst torment. In the first edition, the Hulk finds trouble with digestion, ending up with horrid consequences.
The second issue begins with the superheroes wondering where The Silver Surfer magically appeared and then disappeared to - and what HE is, not to mention how they can come to eat him - delighting fans with this unexpected introduction. A disturbing revelation shows Pym hiding something from his fellow zombies, demonstrating the desperate measures and distrust they all share for each other. While they may all work together, it's clearly a world where it's every man for himself, as Pym's wife Wasp clearly finds during a violent confrontation. It's rather funny on the excuse the zombies conjured to deliver to Iron Man when they meet again about where Magneto went, and even funnier how he uncovers the obvious truth. This stories more on interaction between starring roles rather than just sheer violence, until of course the Silver Surfer makes an appearance AGAIN, just in time to begin a fight and leave the story off with a cliffhanger.
Part 3 delves right into the Silver Surfer fight, with demented dialogue and even stranger results, again focusing a lot on the Hulk. The Wolverine finds himself in major need of repair, while Spiderman finds a unique way to try and rid himself of annoying 'baggage.' Clearly the boys don't share well and end up fighting over any dibs collected. The ending is a cliffhanger with Galactus' arrival to consume the planet. Isn't he in for a shocker?
As with any Galactus focused fight in part four, it's of course a great one, with the fallen heroes
needing to collect themselves for a better plan. The Hulk's plan to fend off hunger is nauseatingly strange, while Spiderman gets dissed for his still human guilt. Pym is forced to own up to a hidden deed, but is saved by fate covering missing evidence. The Black Panther, now free, works his way in with the good team to try to escape the planet, determined the save the world from the disturbing disease's clutches. Wasp's reaction with all this is rather amusing and reeks of typical Zombie desperation. The ending returns once again to the Galactus war, with new inventions showing that the true terror of these sorts of zombies may be their intelligence, not sheer strength and power.
The conclusion ends the "life" of a favorite for me of the zombies, displays the results of the "big" fight, shows an intriguing change with Wasp, and what the eventual plan the zombies came up with for continued grub.
Phillips artwork attempts to create a pulpy, almost comical gore. The detail is pleasant but not breathtaking, keeping everything cartoonish. The contrast of the artwork with the grim, strange tale from Kirkland is a delightful marriage of comic-book fun. Each story is short and goes by quickly, leaving me wanting more and blinking at the speed it's over. It's hard to see how they could have had enough substance to fill five issues anyway, but once reading it there's a clear message that a lot more can still be explored.
Overall a must read for comic book fans looking for something amiss from the norm, eager to change their perception - if only for a short-time - of the beloved superheroes from our youth.