Even more so than 2009, 2010 may well be the Year of the Zombie. Comics’ two major publishers are producing 3 limited series and innumerable tie-in and crossover issues, all featuring partially-risen metahumans.
The first big push for the zombification of superheroes came from mighty Marvel back in 2005. In an alternate reality, a single hero arrives infected with a mysterious “zombie plague,” and soon the entire planet (and eventually the galaxy) winds up on the dinner plate. Not including the issues of Ultimate Fantastic Four that first featured them, or the current Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth series that features a wisecracking animated severed head, the cannibalistic Marvel Zombies have had eight series chronicling their gory adventures. A ninth installment, Marvel Zombies 5, will feature the android hero Machine Man on a cross-dimensional quest to rid all of reality of the zombie plague.
Blackest Night from ign.com
Inspired by the success of Marvel’s undead antiheroes, competitor DC launched their own ongoing Blackest Night crossover event last summer, wherein an extraterrestrial source scatters black rings throughout the galaxy (but mainly on Earth). These rings seek out the corpses of the fondly remembered and create creepy decaying replicas of the deceased to terrorize the living and transform them into even more evil ring bearers, in a kind of undead pyramid scheme. The month of January sees a return of various “dead” titles, some recent, some long-cancelled, as single-issue tie-ins to the overall series.
Selene gathers her minions on this cover from Marvel.com
Not a company to take a challenge lying down, Marvel then sought to reclaim its hold on the super-zombie market and began its ongoing Necrosha crossover event October 28, 2009. Selene, a vampiric supervillainess, uses a mix of black magic, technology, and mutant abilities to resurrect nearly all of the world’s slain mutants as her mind-controlled slaves.
While some critics, like Comic Book Resources’ James Hunt, have quipped “the zombie fad is winding down, and the joke here seems to be how long a one-joke concept can be kept walking,” the dead continue to rise in the capes-and-cowls community. At three zombie-inspired series, one would hope that the trend is reaching its limits, but as long as the foes are grisly and the battles are epic, only time will tell. In the meantime, some have struck a lighter note in their criticism.