Comic Book Review – Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness #1 (of 5) March 2007

Writer –John Layman

Artist – Fabiano Neves

A man falls from the sky, a stranger in a strange land. It’s Ashley Williams and he’s in New York City. He tries to get his bearings and runs into a homeless woman looking for food. He crosses the street and finds two men in garish costumes fighting each other. The homeless woman calls out to Ash, possessed by a Deadite spirit, telling the Chosen One that, “this world will die, and the army of the dead will rise.”

So begins Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness!

Marvel Zombies was a surprise, smash hit for Marvel Comics in the early 2000s. Much like horror movies, the comic miniseries had sequels, some were better than others, until readers lost interest in the franchise altogether. When Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness was announced, I felt this was the shot in the arm that was needed, an opportunity to breathe new life into both comic book series. Ash Williams fighting the army of the undead gets old after a while. Ash doing battle against the zombified heroes of the Marvel Universe is a new, different, and extremely hard challenge for the Chosen One. How can an ordinary man with only a chainsaw and shotgun survive against men and women with superpowers, especially after they develop a gnawing craving for flesh?

I gave the first issue a reread after some years and it was a nice trip down memory lane. It’s like watching one of your favorite horror movies again for the first time. You notice some things that you didn’t catch the first time. For example, in the Avengers lineup that Ash encounters, Luke Cage is a member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but this version still rocks the 1970s Power Man costume, complete with yellow shirt and silver crown. Sweet Christmas!

Some of the questions that lingered since the first Marvel Zombies series are finally answered, while posing some new ones in this crossover. How in the world did Ash end up in the Marvel Universe and how will he get back home? Are these superheroes Deadites or something more sinister? What happened to the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the Book of the Dead? You won’t have to wait long to get some answers in this issue.

John Layman does a phenomenal job injecting some new life into a tired and long thought dead concept. Fabiano Neves’ art is a nice callback to original Marvel Zombies artist Sean Phillips. Neves gives the reader his own take on the zombies, which made my stomach twist and turn a few times. Arthur Suydam’s homage covers are amazing and I like how he incorporates Ash into each zombified cover. Sometimes Ash is smack dab in the middle of the cover, while other times you have to find him like Where’s Waldo? 

I was saving this review for one of my last entries on the Road to Halloween and I almost didn’t make time for it, but I am glad I did. This book is a fun read with the right dose of horror and comedy. There are rumblings that the Marvel Zombies will appear on the animated What If? series on Disney Plus. I am looking forward to this and I am hopeful that one day we might get a Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness animated movie. It’s a long shot but you never know.

Next Issue – The Zombie plague spreads, turning an entire world of super-powered heroes and villains into bloodthirsty walking dead! And only one man-armed with a deadly boomstick, a sharp tongue and movie star looks can stand against them. It’s Ashley Williams against the zombie incarnations of Spider-Man, the Punisher, the Avengers and dozens more. These guys don’t stand a chance!