Wrapping up this round of reviews with two Secret Wars-related titles. Because everything at Marvel is Secret Wars-related right now. Still.
Marvel Zombies #4, by Simon Spurrier (writer), Kev Walker (artist), Guru-eFX (color artists), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - Composite Zombie Ares is probably not the Sensational Character Find of 2015. I sure hope he isn't, anyway.
Elsa and the mysterious little child are trapped between an undead Ulysses Bloodstone, himself full of all the other pieces of Bloodstone he could get his hands on, and Mystique and her band of zombies, all rapidly getting stupid now that their Deadpool food source is blowed up. As it turns out the child is some manifestation of Elsa's stone that emerged to draw her to all the other Bloodstones, because they all want to be together. Things are looking pretty bad for our hero and her hallucination, especially as Elsa is turning undead herself, since dear old alternate dad tore her arm off with his teeth, but she distracts him long enough for the little one to blast the stones, Elsa eats a bunch of them, and uses that power to save herself, restore Ulysses to human, and kill all those zombies.
I think Spurrier ended the story on a Calvin & Hobbes line. 'Let's go exploring.' It does fit, as Elsa has rediscovered some hope for the future, and thinks she can actually make the world better, rather than simply maintain a miserable status quo. She barely regards the hordes of undead between them and the Shield as a nuisance, and Walker shows them walking off together towards hills bathed in sunlight, and everything is colored in warm yellows and pinks. None of the ominous grey clouds we saw throughout her trek south with the child, no dust cloud indicating legions of flesh eaters approaching. So the tone the creative team is trying to strike fits the quote, it just amuses me in the larger context of the world they're in. Then again, Calvin & Hobbes often had stories where the title characters went exploring and discovered things they were either unable to comprehend, or unleashed forces they could barely control (the duplicator, the snow goons). So there's every possibility Elsa will start something she isn't prepared for. I'm speaking as though anything that happened here is going to be referenced in the main Secret Wars mini-series, which I'm sure it won't, but not my problem (or Spurrier and Walker's).
The back and forth blasts between the zombies and Elsa near the end were nicely done. Walker placed the respective hits at the top of consecutive pages, and the way it's set up, Elsa is slightly lower in the panel she gets shot at than Mystique and the others are in the panel where they get blasted. So the spot where the zombies' blast comes onto page 17 from the left is a little lower than where they are when they get shot by Elsa's retaliation on page 18. And her blast comes from a place off the right a little higher than Elsa's placement on page 17. It's a little thing, but I it's a nice attention to detail, and really makes it feel like those two panels are connected, part of the same set piece. I hope Walker will be the artist on something else I want to read soon, whatever that might end up being.
Ms. Marvel #19, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona (artist), Ian Herring (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Callback to a cover from earlier in the series, but I think it works better lie this than with Kamala's face hidden in shadow, which made her look slightly menacing. That isn't really her style.
Kamala's mom knows she's been superheroing, and is largely OK with it. Her father doesn't know, so I'm curious to see how that plays out. Kamala puts off talking to Bruno about their feelings, but has to talk to Nakia about how she hasn't really been keeping her best friend in the loop. Which is true, Nakia has largely fallen out of the book since the initial story arc. Bruno's been sort of Kamala's Alfred, but Nakia's totally in the dark. I don't know that there's any real resolution there, Kamala can promise to do better, but words are cheap, and once the dance party starts up, she heads off to talk to Bruno. For which I think her. I don't need to see any dance party. On the roof, as the world ends, Kamala and Bruno discuss feelings. They both love each other, in some sense or the other, but Kamala is too invested in helping others to have time for romance, which Bruno is very cool with. Then the world ends. Great hustle out there, Avengers, way to save the day.
So maybe everything was a little too tidy, since everyone wound up being OK with Kamala's choices, but this book has largely taken the approach that trying to help others is the right thing to do, and worth encouraging, and if people care about you, they'll understand and give you a chance. It's surprisingly hopeful for a Marvel comic, now that I think of it. Most people aren't suspicious of Ms. Marvel, she tries to help, and they see that and buy into it.
I'll be curious to see how close to this the new series picks up from. Will it be months later, or just a short amount of time? Mostly because, as much as possible, I'd like for the new volume to be a continuation of what Wilson and Alphona had going here. I would have liked to seen how they handled the subplot with Nakia feeling ignored if they'd had the time, or the thing with Zoe. I did laugh at how, even as Zoe is trying to be better, she's still being helpful because useless people get eaten first in zombie apocalypses. There's still that vein of self-interest in her actions, mingled with an apparently honest desire to be helpful that felt legit.
Alphona really does take full advantage of these crowd scenes to fill them with all sorts of details. That's assuming Wilson doesn't have Alan Moore-like scripts that tell Alphona to draw things like a bamboo quarantine cage on wheels, surrounded with guards wielding piranhas on sticks. Perhaps I should write into the book and inquire about those. Also the person in the non-denominational, non-judgmental prayer area with the eyepatch and hair done up like a Minish Cap. And the little person in the Hazmat suit that keeps popping up. Crap, AIM knows Kamala's secret identity! I'm still trying to figure out the significance of when Herring goes with a solid yellow background in a panel, because it only happens a few times, and they aren't grouped together. It's usually at some emotional turning point, the football guy announcing the dance party as Nakia and Kamala are making up, or Kamala opting not to tell her parents the world is ending. I guess it comes when she chooses not to focus on the inevitable, but instead on the things she can do right then.