I just finished reading the “Marvel Zombies” volume, which is really pretty much complete shit. The premise is that all the marvel heroes and villains have been turned into zombies, and they’re hungry for meat. As a zombie tale, it misses the point entirely. The best zombie stories rely on a tension between one’s enthusiasm for seeing the zombies destroy and main and one’s sympathy and identification with the human victims. They also draw an ambiguous line between zombie and human; on the one hand, the zombies look like us and are similar to us in some ways (greed, rage, etc.). On the other hand, they’re clearly and obviously different. Most of all, zombies win because of numbers — they’re scary and disturbing because they lose their individuality and become animal, undifferentiated id. But in this story, all the zombies retain their personalities; you’ve got the guilty spider-man zombie, the leaderly Captain America zombie, the angry hulk zombie. They’re just hungry, decaying bad guys — another bunch of super-villains. Ho-hum.

As a super-hero story, it sucks too. Basically it’s just a series of cutesy punch-lines for continuity buffs. The wasp can shrink down and make her Magneto dinner last longer. When the Hulk turns into Banner the human flesh he just ate breaks through his stomach. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Silver Surfer pulled off his board and devoured? How about Galactus, huh? Of course, little effort is made to explain who all these characters are, or even to create some sort of context or, god forbid, a story. If you wanted those things, you wouldn’t be here, would you?

Not that it’s entirely unentertaining. As an act of puerile desecration for the aging geek, it’s kind of fun to see the Hulk bite off the Silver Surfer’s head, or hear Peter Parker whine incessantly about eating his aunt. But you’ve gotta wonder about the future of the super-hero endeavor when the shrinking fandom is increasingly fed on decayed, self-cannabilizing tidbits like this. Marvel zombies indeed.