In Marvel Zombies Vs. Army of Darkness #1, an alternate world was introduced to the plague that transformed their heroes into zombies. The Sentry became infected with it and brought it to Earth, contaminating the heroes and villains, placing the rest of humanity in a virtual zombie salad bar. This series serves as a prequel to the original Marvel Zombies limited series.
This one-shot was published during the Army of Darkness storyline to expand upon events in issues 2 and 3 of the series as well as set up the last two issues. Keep in mind that there are some continuity errors between the series and this issue, so they are not seamless.
From Marvel Zombies Vs. Army of Darkness #2: Spider-Man has left Ash and swings back to his apartment in a state of panic. As he enters, he tells Aunt May and Mary Jane that he was bitten by Colonel America. As Aunt May goes into the bathroom to get some peroxide, the zombie virus overtakes Peter and he reluctantly devours Mary Jane. When May returns, Peter begs her to lock herself in the bathroom. For all the good it does.
We now switch to Asteroid X, high in Earth's orbit. Magneto and his acolytes are on board the space station. Magneto is discussing their part in introducing the zombie plague on Earth with Fabian Cortez. Fabian tries to remind him that they only intended to "thin out" the ranks of the homo sapiens. Magneto will not hear any excuses. While they stay protected in their shuttle, their involvement in bringing this virus to Earth has doomed both humans and mutants. Magneto resolves to return to Earth and save whoever he can.
In New York, Nova flies to the Parker apartment. He apologizes for the intrusion, but he wanted to check on them. He finds the zombie Peter speaking incoherently about what he's done. When Nova figures out what has happened and recoils in horror, Peter tells him, "Don't look at me." The next instant, Nova is flying through the window fighting off a zombie Peter. Daredevil appears and separates them. He tells Nova that this isn't the same person anymore and that they have to kill him. Nova is shocked by this statement and hesitates long enough to allow Spider-Man to bite Daredevil.
In another part of town, Colonel America manages to get his Avengers squad (Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Luke Cage, and the Wasp to stop eating. He advises everyone return to the mansion and try to fight off the effects of the zombie virus.
In Westchester, the X-Men are fighting off an infected Alpha Flight. According to Storm's comments Professor Xavier was a victim of their Canadian counterparts. Magneto arrives and kills each of them by metal-induced head trauma. He then informs them of the new status quo: kill or be killed. Wolverine eagerly joins Magneto's cause.
From Marvel Zombies Vs. Army of Darkness #3: Back in New York, Giant Man and Black Panther have separated from Colonel America and the rest of the Avengers. They're heading toward Pym's lab in the hopes of finding a cure. When T'Challa notices that Pym was bitten, he is quickly knocked out by the infected scientist. Hank states that he knows what's in store for him. Based on the rate at which the plague is spreading, the "food supply" will run out and he won't go hungry.
While the chaos continues outside, the Fantastic Four are reeling from a personal attack. The infected She-Hulk has broken into the Baxter Building and has eaten Franklin and Valeria. Thing restrains She-Hulk while Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman cradle the bloody remains of their children. On Reed's suggestion, Sue uses her powers on She-Hulk, causing her head to explode. They receive a communication from Nick Fury informing them of the situation and ask them to join the resistance movement. Along the way to the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, they save Thor and Nova from the zombie versions of the Thunderbolts.
Once aboard they meet with the remaining Avengers, X-Men, Magneto, Inhumans, and other uninfected heroes (plus the Scarlet Spider, who has somehow survived in this dimension). Fury explains that the current plan is to give Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Bruce Banner a chance to work on a cure for the zombie virus. The remaining heroes will try to save as many people as possible.
Giant Man returns to Avengers' mansion where he finds Colonel America and the rest of the infected Avengers eating various pieces of Edwin Jarvis their butler-turned-appetizer. Hawkeye compliments Hank for the idea, but they've beaten him to it. He then tells him that they saved a piece of Jarvis for him. Hank asks if they intend to accept this situation without trying to fight it. Hawkeye responds that he's eaten 12 people today; there's no going back. He asks a second time if he wants part of Jarvis. Hank decides to participate but states that he dislikes the idea of giving up.
Outside the mansion the situation grows worse. Spider-Man has stopped off at the Daily Bugle for his final meeting with J. Jonah Jameson. Thor defeats the Abomination. The FF and Inhumans try to fight off Namor and the Atlanteans. Fury made a trip to Latveria asking Dr. Doom for help. Doom refuses stating that he doesn't need help and Fury is unworthy of his. The heroes fight their way through zombie versions of Spider-Man' rogues' gallery and the Frightful Four.
On the helicarrier, Sue discovers Reed examining the remains of the infected Falcon. When asked Reed tells her that Tony suggested that they split up to work on different solutions. He's examining the zombies directly in hopes of finding a cure. He begins to describe - at length - how much more efficient and utterly amazing this new life form is. Sue is livid that he would find such fascination with the creatures that killed their children and storms off.
In another section of the helicarrier, Fury meets with Tony Stark to check on his progress. Tony tells him flatly that even if a cure is found, their world is in ruins. They may never recover. With that in mind, he's taken some of Reed's equipment and created a gateway to find and transport survivors to suitable alternate dimensions. Fury doesn't disagree.
On the ground the non-infected heroes continue to fight it out with those that are infected. Colonel America claims that they can't fight it, regardless of what they try. In rapid succession Nova and Wolverine are bitten and transformed. Magneto calls for a retreat.
Back on the helicarrier, Reed calls his teammates together. He theorizes that perhaps they are meant to become these new creatures. That this is not an infection, but evolution they are witnessing. Sue begins to scream at him questioning his very sanity. She asks what they're supposed to do - accept his and allow themselves to be infected? Reed replies very calmly that it won't be necessary, he's already done that when they entered the room. As they turn into zombies, Reed insists they feed on him and turn him as well. This is something he wants to experience firsthand.
Fury returns to Stark to check on his project's progress. Tony assures him it's finished and currently scanning for alternate dimensions. He warns Fury that there is a limited field that can be generated to transport the survivors. Additionally there is only enough energy to do this once. If they decide to escape, they only have one chance.
At this point the infected FF break into the room and discovery their plans for the dimensional gateway. They infect Tony which allows Fury to escape, regrouping with the remaining uninfected heroes: Thor, Nightcrawler, Dr. Strange, Colossus, and Storm. They seal themselves inside a smaller room with the gateway. Fury decides against activating the device at this point to prevent other worlds from being contaminated. Once Thing tears through the wall, Fury instructs Thor to destroy the machine, which he does willingly.
Once they're through the remaining heroes are infected and Fury is quickly consumed. Reed then tells them to take the device back to the Baxter Building for repairs. Reed knows that they'll be out of food soon and ".. it's [their] responsibility to spread the gospel".
This was one gory little tale. I was grossed out with the mere concept of Peter physically consuming his wife and aunt. While this was mentioned in Marvel Zombies #1, the actual event takes place here. What little they do show is enough to remind me that I don't want to see any more. The "Jarvis buffet" scene was effectively disturbing as well.
The one story element that disturbed me more than the others was Reed's decision to infect the rest of the Fantastic Four and then allow himself to be infected. When Reed was providing some necessary exposition on zombie physiology, I assumed that his fascination with the "improvements" was a simple matter of Reed being stuck in xenobiologist mode. It would not be a stretch to assume that the death of his children unhinged him in ways that even Sue couldn't have predicted. In the grand scheme they had to be turned somehow, but this was an odd choice.
Finally how was Banner infected? I know that he was in the original mini-series, but it should have been shown somewhere in this issue.
4.5 webs. I don't think I'm alone with the opinion that having Mr. Fantastic go insane and infect his family with a zombie virus is out of character. ½ web off for that. As stated above, there were several minor continuity goofs, but I'm not going to count off for them because they don't detract from the story. However they should have kept a closer watch on them.
Despite my issues with the FF infection scene, this doesn't diminish the overall quality of the story. Watching all the heroes and villains slowly turning into zombies was very entertaining, strange as that may sound. The pacing is perfect, there are some darkly humorous moments (Spider-Man and Jonah), and Phillips art is incredible.
The cover is an homage to X-Men (Vol. 2) #1.
Spider-Man was bitten by Colonel America in Marvel Zombies Vs. Army of Darkness #1.