Creepy Comics Cavalcade: Fright Night In ‘Marvel Zombies Halloween’
by Tony Thornley
Happy Halloween! It’s the perfect day to curl up with some classic creepy comics, and enjoy thrills and chills. We love ourselves some spooky stories here at Comicon, and chose a great little one-shot to recommend for this year’s All Hallows Eve.
Up front, I do not like Marvel Zombies. I felt the satire was heavy handed, most of the horror was nothing but shock value, and the art wasn’t appealing. It overstayed its welcome, and in the end was just another concept that was driven into the ground. There was one exception though, and that was one of the last gasps of the franchise before it took a years-long rest.
Marvel Zombies Halloween by Fred Van Lente, Alessandro Vitti, Jean-Francis Beaulieu, Cory Petit, and cover artist Francesco Francavilla was released ten years ago this month, after the initial wave of the Zombies line had died down and seven years before it would be revived. It was a simple one shot, and somewhat outside of the main Marvel Zombie continuity.
Young Peter is doing his best to survive with his mother in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. When he learns about Halloween, he wants to go out trick or treating like any other child his age. He quickly learns that there are scarier things in the world than the undead that he’s avoided so far in his young life.
Van Lente makes this a good zombie story in general, not relying much one the crutches of the Marvel universe to build Peter and Mom’s world. There are hints that Mom is a familiar character though, and that becomes important when the standard zombie story firmly collides with the undead superheroes of the Marvel Zombie universe. Instead of distracting from the horror, the intelligent super-zombies enhance it, leading to the moment that shouldn’t surprise you if you’re paying attention- the moment Mom runs through a wall
Yes, our protagonists are Kate Pryde and her pre-school aged son. (Sorry, spoilers, but this issue is ten years old.)
I do wish the story was a touch longer for Van Lente to explore Kate as a survivor after that twist. Otherwise, this is a tight story that doesn’t overstay its welcome, and does exactly what it needs to for it to work.
Vitti and Beaulieu execute the art just right for the horror story this is. Beaulieu’s colors are dreary without being washed out or grimy. It sets the tone through the story and avoids making the story hard to read. Vitti paces the pages really well, and uses more straightforward layouts to build up the horror. His designs for the super-zombies are just enough to makes them frightening, but doesn’t distance them too far from their past selves.
If you’re looking for something fun, short, but still effective horror, I think this is a very fun option. It’s available on its own digitally, and is collected with other Marvel Zombies stories.