Editor's Note: Marvel Zombies 4 #2 arrives in stores tomorrow, May 6.
"Midnight Sons, Part 2"
When a comic makes me laugh out loud multiple times and gives me at least one or two "oh shit!" moments, I know I've got a winner on my hands. Van Lente and Walker have made this series their own, and after six issues under their creative guidance, the Marvel Zombies franchise is better than it ever was.
Now don't get me wrong. I loved the first series, and while the second series didn't quite hold up, and the Army of Darkness crossover was more strange than good, I still enjoyed them to some extent. But this takes things to a whole new level of entertaining.
For those of you who missed the memo, the severed head of Zombie Deadpool is on the loose thanks to classic Marvel zombie, Simon Garth, who has delivered it to Voodoo master, Black Talon. He's being tracked by the new Midnight Sons: Morbius, the Living Vampire; Jack Russell, Werewolf-By-Night; Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan; and Jennifer Kale, a witch I most fondly remember from the classic Man-Thing/Howard the Duck team-up from Adventure into Fear (1972-73).
As we saw last issue, Black Talon wants to sell Zombie Deadpool to The Hood, who, this issue, despite the advice of his henchmen, chooses to listen to his master, The Dread Dormammu, and make the purchase. If Dormammu gets his way, the zombie plague will destroy the earth and open it up for his domination. In order to make this a reality, The Hood sends his own Monstrous team, The Night Shift, into battle against the Midnight Sons.
And that's the main focus of this entire issue.
As a reader with a fondness for Marvel's '70s horror titles, this book is a dream come true. Van Lente keeps the dialogue fairly light and banter-y most of the time, which serves as a nice contrast for the horrific things that these characters are actually doing. The plot keeps moving forward smoothly, side-stepping expectations and providing actual surprises and interesting twists that grow organically out of the psychologies and personal motivations of the characters. This is how it's done, people.
It's interesting to see the direction he's taking Jennifer Kale. After her pretty much total collapse in Marvel Zombies 3, she's a character with a lot to prove, but the opening sequence of this issue doesn't provide a lot of hope for where she's heading. However, the final page makes it clear that wherever she ends up (I don't think Van Lente would provide hints about her not surviving without there being some twist to what eventually occurs), it should be interesting.
Walker's art is, as with the previous series, rough-edged and distinctive; a nice echo of the original Marvel Zombies style of Sean Phillips, but clearly his own, with more grit and a touch less gore. Luckily, a touch less gore is still plenty gory, and the full-page splash we get of Morbius in action this issue is disturbingly gorgeous. And when things get insane at the end of this issue--and they get freaking insane--Walker's layouts and orchestration makes the impact even more intense than it already is.
This is another good issue; solid on both the writing and artistic fronts, as Van Lente and Walker make it plainly clear that creative work is almost always more about the execution than the initial concept. Although when both aspects are strong it's a thing of beauty. We're halfway through Marvel Zombies 4 and the two big twists that occur at the end of this issue are, quite frankly, Game Changers. And both make logical sense without being the most obvious places for the story to go. Both Marvel's and DC's Big Event writers could learn a thing or two from Van Lente's work here.
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