Starting off with a bang is an understatement in this latest issue of what is quickly becoming one of my favourite Secret Wars tie-in. Marvel Zombies #2 starts off by rolling a MODOK down the cliff and /then/ the BANG comes. As before, Si Spurrier and Kev Walker are our tour guides in this second foray through the depths of the Deadlands, now joined by Guru-eFX on colors.
This issue again focuses on Elsa and her still-mysterious companion Shuttup’s efforts to explore what’s far south of the Deadlands, all the while trying to keep their heads both figuratively and literally. Elsa’s bouts of daddy issues worming their way out into the present day is still a major part of this issue, with the occasional flashbacks interspersed with present-day sequences.
The zombie-mulching count in this issue is somewhat less than the last issue, with only one extended confrontation with several rotters and one off-screen (I would assume) fight with MODOC (Moribund Organism Designed Only for Cannibalism). Even with this, some of the best moments of the issue came from these encounters.
Reading more into the writing, it’s becoming more apparent that I think Elsa is trying to be /like/ her father, yet she tries to be better than him. She repeats his lessons as a mantra of sorts, yet she fits the interpretation to fit her needs, while disobeying the ones that she deems unsuitable to her personal values.
I also love how Elsa is slowly warming up to Shuttup, as much as she hates to let it show. It’s most evident at how her time with Shuttup has somewhat showed that under that tough exterior and the badmouthing she gives Shuttup constantly, she still cares for the kid. It’s a dynamic that I’d like to see explored even more in the next issues and how it develops Elsa.
Having read Marvel Zombies 3 again this past week, I can safely say that Kev Walker is still as great as ever at drawing the undead. A rotting MODOC, a pair of flying zombified Saurons, and the whole sequence in the last three pages were standouts in an issue of standouts. Guru-eFX’s colors, much like D’armata’s, does an amazing job separating the present-day sequences from the flashbacks. A standout was the half-flashback panel, where it looked like Ulysses is yelling at Elsa. It’s such a powerful moment fitted into one panel, showing how his influence has really shaped the woman Elsa has become, and still casts a very huge shadow over her even in death.
My gripe about last issue’s pacing is almost nonexistent this time around, as the story moves at a nice pace. But this issue does leave us with even more questions than we started with. Just who (or what) is Shuttup and what’s so special about the kid? Who’s that mysterious figure stalking them for most of this issue? What role will [CENSORED] play later on in the series? I’m sure these will be answered in due time.
All in all, with the clever dialogue, wonderfully funny insults, stellar art, almost stomach-churning depictions of the undead, and more twists and turns than Elsa’s Sunday drive, this issue is yet another winner in my books. A must-read if you’re even remotely interested in Marvel Zombies, Elsa Bloodstone, or any story where a tough-as-shoe-leather heroine faces down impossible odds only with her wit and half a dozen bullets.
And somehow, this issue made me feel kinda bad for Ulysses, which I’m sure isn’t an easy thing to do.