No More Zombies!

zombies_cyclops.jpgLike any other sub-culture or genre, comics are no stranger to fads and spikes in popularity for certain things. One of the more recent fads over the past couple of years has been ZOMBIES! The undead have ravaged their way through comic books, mainly from Marvel and much of the time in the form of variant covers. What was funny to start with and somewhat amusing has just become ridiculous. I’ve had enough.


Mark Millar and Robert Kirkman, two of comics most popular writers are really to blame for this mess– er, trend. In the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four, Mark Millar introduced an alternate Earth where the Fantastic Four (and the rest of the Marvel Universe) have been turned into zombies. It was a chilling and scary story that was probably the height of quality for that title at the time. For some reason, it was decided to do a mini-series focusing on the concept of zombie versions of the Marvel Universe, and Marvel Zombies was first published in late 2005 To write the series, Marvel turned to up and coming writer Robert Kirkman, who was already gaining popularity for his work in the genre. Kirkman was the writer behind The Walking Dead, which premiered in 2003 and was published by Image Comics. It was the tale of survivors in a world overrun by zombies, making him the natural choice for the Marvel-themed zombie book. Substituting out the scary factor for a more humorous tone, Marvel Zombies became an instant hit. It was unique, innovative, and a great read. And thus ZOMBIES became an official trend.

For those of you who weren’t around in the ’90s, there were a lot of trends then too. Chromium covers, die-cut covers, all sorts of cover gimmicks were the norm. Every publisher was in on the action, with special covers for comic books every time you turned around. Number 1 issues, milestone issues, hell, even issues that weren’t all that important got the treatment (i.e. Ghost Rider #15 and its glow in the dark cover). It was neat when it started, but by the mid-’90s, the fans started claiming they were sick of them. But the sad thing was, they sold. And in the beginning, they sold a lot And when they sell, the companies see money and they keep doing it, and doing it, until whatever it is they are doing stops selling. When I look at what’s been going on at Marvel with the zombies, it makes me feel like it’s the ’90s all over again.

It’s probably safe to speculate that Marvel was surprised by the success of the Marvel Zombies mini-series. It has been reprinted several times, and as a way to keep the excitement going, artist Arthur Suydam has produced different “zombified” covers of iconic covers from the Marvel Universe. It was neat way to see different interpretations of classic Marvel covers. I thought that was a creative way to keep some buzz about the zombies and I was totally fine with it. But it… just… never… stopped.

Marvel, who has been playing the variant cover game again for some time now, has expanded its zombified covers out to other titles, often for no other reason than just to continue this zombie madness (and sell books). To highlight the absurdity of this practice: last week, we received a press release from Marvel about the future of the wildly successful Anita Blake series of comics and how Ron Lim would be the new artist on it. Pretty straight forward, right? Well, tacked onto the end of the press release was this tidbit of info:

“Lim will also provide a special, unannounced Zombie variant cover to Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake: First Death #2 (of 2),”

And then to add insult to injury, on this week’s stack of books shipping, there is a zombie variant of Ms. Marvel #20, which again shows no connection to the story being told. Arthur Suydam was the main artist producing elaborate, painted covers, but now its evolved to having any and all artists creating zombie variants (i.e. Ms. Marvel #20 looks to be done by Aaron Lopresti, who is at least the book’s regular artist). We are even getting a zombie variant of the new Howard the Duck comic. Seriously. I can’t make this up.

In addition to the variant covers, we’ve been treated to a few more glimpses of the world of the original Marvel Zombies through various mini-series, one shots, and crossovers. And as excited as I was for that, once in my hands they diluted the specialness of the concept as opposed to building on it. Did the Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness crossover need to be 5 issues? I don’t think so. And what’s worse, is that now when we finally get a sequel to the original Marvel Zombies mini-series with the original creators, writer Robert Kirkman and artist Sean Phillips, my reaction isn’t that of excitement, rather I roll my eyes and exclaim “More zombies? Groan.” And that sucks because I want to be excited for this upcoming series, but I’m not. I’m tired. I’m tired of Marvel characters being zombified and I don’t even buy or care about the variant covers. That just shows how many of those things they’ve done if someone like me feels overwhelmed.

As far as I can tell, there are two questions now:

1) Is there an audience for this zombie content that I just don’t connect with? I mean, I love The Walking Dead but I’m not a big zombie guy. Is there anyone out there that actively collects all this zombie stuff?

2) When is enough enough? I’m happy to see Marvel make money the old fashioned way – but is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? I know its hard to argue against sales figures and the like, but do we think that possibly overloading us over the span of two years with zombies has taken away a bit of the specialness of the original concept?

Oh, and one more question:

3) Does Arthur Suydam do anything other than zombie artwork? I’d like to see a cover from him without a zombie on it.


  1. Amen. Destroy the brain, people.

  2. I think this is a problem all over comics and all over American entertainment. If one sells, give them 20. The zombie thing is completely played, but Marvel is going to milk it, just like after Spier-man the movie, the Matrix, and LOTR were successful, the movie industry is choking the market with fantasy fiction stuff. Lost and Heroes were successful, and not every freaking show is about people with powers, or some thing designed for the inner-fanboy of America.

    As you guys always say, these guys are in it to make the $$, so they are going to put zombies on covers and in books until people stop buying the crap. Our only ‘vote’ is to not watch or not buy/not read. When those variants sit on the shelf the retailers will complain, and then Marvel will go milk some other teet until that udder dries up and then on to the next cash cow.

    If these companies were putting art first there wouldn’t have been a Civil War, a WW Hulk, or X-Men Extinction.

    Since nothng can be done to change this, I say don’t sweat it and let it die on its own.

  3. One of the more recent fads over the past couple of ears has been ZOMBIES!

    Most appropriate typo ever?

    Personally, I must be a sucker. I still dig the zombie thing. Marvel Zombies was great and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

    Variant covers, as a trend, suck, especially when you have retailers charging like 3 or 4 times cover price. If there’s a choice between covers (at cover price – none of the jacked up shit), I’ll pick my favorite, whether it’s the variant or now. Zombies, in the month of October, is kind of like trying to polish a turd – a nice idea (IMO) stuck on a sucky idea.

    3. Does Arthur Suydam do anything other than zombie artwork? I’d like to see a cover from him without a zombie on it.

    I think he’s done a few Savage Tales covers that weren’t zombified. But you can’t blame the guy for riding the gravy train while it’s still rolling. I’d like to see some interiors, though.

    On a side note, I picked up a print of the Crisis on Infinite Earths 7 (death of Supergirl) zombie homage Suydam did for Wizard. Looks awesome on my wall.

  4. Either my store doesn’t buy those books or my eyes just look right past them. The only time I am aware of the zombie craze is when someone is talking about it. I did consider picking up the Army of Darkness crossover, but that was more out of enjoyment of Bruce Campbell. Ultimately, I passed because it is Campbell, not necessarily Ash, who I like

    Over the weekend I got caught up to the last issue of The Walking Dead and I am all set to read it monthly. I can’t wait for the next issue. Every single time I breath a sigh of relief for these people, I turn the page and something terrible happens. And I always fall for it! I love it.

  5. Anybody see/notice the zombie quip in last week’s 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen #2?

    I don’t have the issue in front of me, but it went something like this. Batman was reporting to Mr. Terrific that the dead were coming back to life and walking around in Bialya. Mr. Terrific asked something like, “are they eating people?,” and also said something like “there just seems to be a lot of that going around these days,” or words to that effect– a clear reference to the plethora of zombie books we’ve been flooded with.

    Batman had a great response, he said: “are you drunk?”

  6. I did buy Marvel Zombies, the MZ one shot and the AoD v MZ. I also plan to buy the second mini. I enjoy them a lot. Having said that, I dont read a lot of Marvel stuff and I’m sure that if half the titles I was buying had a needless Zombie cover and/or story, it might annoy me. But I will happily pick up all of the marvel Zombies mini until I stop enjoying them, which is not yet the case.

  7. Yes, there is an over use of zombies.

    However, Halloween is this month. So if you’re going to do zombies, do it this month.

  8. wow, somones been drinking the haterade. lol jk ron. but as a marvel fan, you should know that ANYTHING that remoltl sells is gunna get pounded into the shops every week, especially with halloween just around the corner

  9. I’ve stayed away form all the Zombie Madness (except for Walking Dead, which is my sole exception)

    On the topic of Variants, however, if you’re one of those guys (or gals, I’ll be fair) who wants to buy some really special cover, go for it. If you don’t like them (I happen to be in this group), no one’s making you buy them. The only variants I buy are the JSA ones since:
    a) they tend to only be 3 bucks or so more and come on light weeks generally and
    b) I usually like them better

  10. I pretty much completely agree. I haven’t read UFF stuff, but I loved the original mini series and, honestly, was surprised that the Army of Darkness mini was actually pretty fun, even if, like you mentioned, a bit too long. However, I hated the last Kirkman/Phillips one shot. What the Hell was up with that? I’d never seen Sean Phillips artwork I didn’t like until that book and the story was worthless. I’m definitely not very excited for the sequel, but I have to admit

  11. It’s the younger generation, Ron. They identify with shambling, soulless automatons driven by nothing but the need to consume.

  12. I Think the Suydam covers are a fun exercise to watch, not to buy.

  13. I am the king of the zombie haters because zombie horror is very, very effective on me. The idea of someone losing him/herself completely and turning into a rotting, shambling parody who preys on loved ones and strangers alike disturbs me in a way that I can’t put into words. So you can imagine how I react when I see this happen to my old childhood chums on the covers of comics.

    Actually, you don’t have to imagine; I think I’ve griped about it half a dozen times on this site before.

    It does sort of crack me up how meta the Marvel Zombie phenomenon became; the covers became like a zombie plague themselves. There was a small outbreak in UFF; before you know it, they had infected their own miniseries; then, there were zombies on covers of books that had nothing to do with anything! Then they were in Black Panther! Then they were on Thor covers, and Ms. Marvel, and… oh my God, they got Howard the Duck! The zombies are everywhere! Barricade the doors!

  14. Call me a sucker as well…I still enjoy most of these books. The Alternate zombie covers to every mainstream Marvel book does make me groan however.

  15. Incidentally, it looks like next week’s shipping list includes zombie variants for both Runaways and Spider-Girl.

    Those are still the ones published with young readers in mind, right?

    They are?


    Seriously: if the flesh is rotting off their bones in a night-sweat-inducing tableau of gore and revulsion, why exactly is that not MAX material? Because sometimes ripping someone’s jugular out with your teeth is funny?

  16. here’s my take on it. fads are just that and they are easy to ignore. some i like. some i hate. and some just happen. i never got into the whole ZOMBIE thing but i like marvel and i like evil dead so i bought that miniseires.

    this argument actualy seems similar to the TP vs. monthy or any other hot topic. why does it have to be either or. why should we buy only monthly or in trades. why can’t we have a choice of zombie duck or normal howard.

    personaly i don’t care what they do as long as i get a choice. and if they stop giving me a choice i’ll choose not to buy.

  17. I don’t think all zombie books need to end, just Marvel Zombies. Stop it. Please. I beg of you.

  18. I agree the Marvel Zombies have gone into ridiculous overload mode. Its really driven home when you walk around the convention floors. At Baltimore Comic-Con it almost became a running joke for my brother and I seeing how many of these alternate covers and zombie series were out there.

  19. Zombies, no zombies…I don’t care. I own the Marvel Zombies trade ’cause I got it as a gift. Because I got it as a gift, I picked up the one-shot and will pick up the other MZ stuff they put out (though the AoD crossover I didn’t get).

    Zombie covers? Eh, whatever. If it’s got nothing to do with the story, then I probably won’t get it. If it does (like it currently does with Black Panther), then I might (especially if it’s the only cover).

    I will say that zombies as an overall fad need to be over, though.

  20. While I don’t have a preconceived grudge against the Zombie genre I do have to say that I prefer it to stay unto it’s own. I won’t go so far as to say that it needs to end completely. Just keep it where it is and don’t try and move into places it should not be. It is enough for me to know that the Marvel Zombies world exists and if I choose to visit it then I can. But I don’t need to have that world spill over constantly into the other parts of the Marvel Universe.

    And personally, I would think that the burn time would be alot longer for the whole Zombie thing if they kept it more self-contained. They could make money over a longer period of time instead of a mad grab for cash in a short period.

  21. Agreed. Zombies are played out.(‘Cept the one I have delivering pizzas in my screenplay)

  22. I still love you guys, and I often share opinions with you Ron but come on, lighten up. If you don’t like the variants, don’t buy them. If you don’t like the stories, don’t read them. It’s that simple.

    This article is actually part of the biggest fad of all: internet bitching.

  23. I like Marvel, but having said that I have to bust them on this. Back in the 90’s I think it was Dark Horse that did a few zero issues, then Marvel took that and ran it into the ground. Then it was Gold and Platinum variants, Image and Marvel ran those into the ground, then it was the Chromium Holografix crap which put Valiant out of business, the Bloodshot and Turok number 1’s are the prime example of a trend that needs to end. With this zombies crap. Now.

  24. Ultimate Spiderman 115 now has a zombie varient

  25. since I just bought last week’s Teen titans, I just saw this, and I thought it awesome:
    Supergirl: So what… they’re like zombies?
    Wonder Girl: Yeah, pretty much
    Supergirl: uch, Zombies are so played out.

    When it gets to Teen Titans, that’s when it’s gone to far. End the zombie thing already!

  26. Dear Robert Kirkman,
    Please no more Marvel Zombies. Return the fat check and just end it. Thabjs.

  27. the funny thing about Suydam’s art is that you’ve seen so much of the zombie stuff now, even his normal pieces resemble zombies. That muddy paint style carries over.

  28. “This article is actually part of the biggest fad of all: internet bitching.”

    If you don’t like internet bitching…don’t come to the site. 😛

  29. “If you don’t like internet bitching…don’t come to the site. :P”

    and, if you’re not into zombie comics, just don’t read them. :PPP

    seriously, i don’t really care for the variant covers on books that have nothing to do with zombies, but the marvel zombie series itself still interests me. there’s about 500 superhero comics out there, and i think one or two titles about superhero zombies doesn’t really pollute things too much.

  30. Arthur Suydam is sad because he is sick of zombies. I just read the Marvel Zombie series and I don’t get it. How are they marketing this to the Hot Topic crowd who don’t read comics. There are so many references that I couldn’t see enjoying it without knowing all I know about Marvel. Now I’m waiting to see how fast they do a movie or animated movie about the zombie… if Marvel can ever recover there rights from Sony and Fox

  31. Wait. Were those zombie iFanboys at the beginning of last week’s video show? Or were they cavemen?

  32. You know

    isn’t that the whole point of Zombies? They just keep coming. More and MORE of them till you’re huddled in the corner, crying, wishing you had more bullets, and screaming


  33. Wait. Were those zombie iFanboys at the beginning of last week’s video show? Or were they cavemen?

    Either neanderthals or frankensteins. At least that’s what I was thinking.

  34. suydam was a legend long before the zombies came on the scene.

    but seriously, who cares? its been like, 3 out of continuity really well selling mini series mini series. this is like saying “ALRIGHT JEFF BROWN! ENOUGH WITH THE AUTIO BIO COMICS! WE GET IT! GOD!”

    just ignore what you don’t like. it’s not like there aren’t trillions of amazing beautiful comics being made right now.

  35. Re: Nick

    I don’t think ROn cares that there are Zombie titles out there, it’s that they are spreading so much, to books with no use for them.

    If Jeff Brown started doing covers for monthlies that said “Inside: The complete autobiography of Ms. Marvel”, but the book had nothing of the sorts, then that analogy would be a lot more accurate.

  36. Jeffrey Brown does books other than autobio comics. He does some parody as well, and I believe some other kinds of material.

  37. Josh is right, Jeffrey Brown does far more than autibio stuff (even though that stuff is fantastic). Read ‘Incredible Change-Bots’ (which was on the vodcast here), it’s hilarious and really smart.

  38. Don’t forget about DEADWORLD by Vincent Locke & Stuart Kerr.