In the horror comics sub-genre there was an oddball franchise called Marvel Zombie. Over the years the title was a major part of the resurrecting the popularity of zombie fiction (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing).
The idea first appeared in the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic with the debut of the Zombie FF and then was launched into a successful mini series.
Shortly after Marvel was looking to follow up on the story with something that would get even more people interested. They soon chose to bring in a character from film that knew a lot about killing zombies…or in this case Deadites.
Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness was a five issue crossover series written by John Layman (Chew) and drawn by Fabiano Neves.
The series acted as an original origin story for the (at the time) new zombie franchise and featured Ashley Williams from The Evil Dead films and Army of Darkness comics published by Dynamite Entertainment.
The comics starts shortly after the events of Army of Darkness. Ash was on his way heaven when he ends up running into a zombified Marvel comics hero named Sentry who ends up killing a number of people also making the trip to heaven.
After trying to stop him, Ash is knocked into the Marvel Zombie universe before the infection hits.
Soon after Ash gets a warning that an army of the dead will rise in this universe. Ash then looks for the help of the Avengers to find that worlds Necronomicon, which he thinks will be the source of the zombies.
This goes about as well as it sounds as he’s brushed off before being teleported away by Scarlet Witch only minutes before Sentry starts killing heroes.
Over the series Ash teams up with a number of Marvel characters (Spider-man, Dazzler, The Punisher and Doctor Doom to name a few) that try and help him stop the Zombie army.
MZ vs. AD was one of the first major titles written by John Layman and his humor is one of the strongest parts of the series.
While the image alone of Ash and Howard the Duck in the same panel is funny enough his sharp dialogue and understanding of Ash as a character makes the comic strong.
Some of the best examples of the dialogue comes during the scenes where Doctor Doom and Ash interact with each other. As you might guess the two don’t get along.
While the writing is strong the art by Neves, Fernando Blanco and Sean Phillps is only OK.
The art style sits somewhere between cartoonish and realistic and lands in a territory that isn’t really one of the other. It’s typical of some of the Marvel comics at the time but fails to really stand out from what was being published at the time.
Returning from the original series are the covers based upon classic Marvel titles. This titles covers were done by Arthur Suydam’s who does amazing version of X-Men #141 originally done by John Byrne (cover shown at the beginning of article).
While the adventures of Ash in this world is interesting the Marvel Zombie comics would soon become tired.
It’s easy to understand why these comics were popular but this mini series would lead to Marvel beating the Zombie genre into the ground with titles such as Marvel Zombies 2-5, several spin-offs and a crossover with Marvel Apes…yes there’s a Marvel Ape universe and it crosses over with zombies. Why not?
The only thing that makes this title stand out from the rest is John Layman’s use of Ash. Once Ash and Layman left the title would see host of different writers and artists all trying to tell their own story. These sequels can’t hold a candle to the first.
Marvel Zombie vs. The Army of Darkness was written by John Layman with art done by Fabiano Neves, Fernado Blanco, Sean Phillps and June Chung. The series was published by Marvel Comics and Dynamite Entertainment. The Marvel Zombie universe was created by Mark Millar and Greg Land using characters owned by Marvel Comics.