I’ve been sitting on this book for over two years, apparently. As has often been the case in my various Marvel readings, it’s worked out really well for me, the delay. Sure, there are things I haven’t read yet and things that haven’t happened yet and so on, but the very fact of making it all the way through Stan Lee’s era as chief editor of Marvel (which ended just this month, basically, where this month is September of 1972) means that I have seen at least most of what any given Marvel homage is going to make reference to. And boy howdy does Marvel Zombies assume you are familiar with most of the characters and at least a couple of the plot lines their universe has spawned over the past 50 years.
The very concept seems ludicrous at first blush. Take all the Marvel super-powered characters, infect them with a zombie virus, let them destroy humanity in a matter of hours, and then leave them doomed to eternal hunger while figuring out what to do next? But it works, partly because this particular earth has missed a key event in the Marvel mythology, but mostly because, zombie or not, they’re all the same characters when they’ve had enough food to clear their heads for a moment. Hank Pym is still a colossal jackass; Tony Stark is still entirely full of himself; Peter Parker is still wracked with guilt and uncertainty. It’s not a classic zombie story where the zombie thing is just a backdrop against which some social theme is highlighted, but it is pretty damned funny. And I think I’m glad; if they’d played up the existential angst of heroes sworn to defend humanity having been its extinction, and with hardly a pause for thought until after the fact? That just would’ve been depressing.