Although The Walking Dead source material came to an end in 2019, we’re just now seeing the end of the TV show that revitalized the zombie genre. Zombies as a plot device in comic books accomplish two things. First, it gives readers a view of how people act when all semblance of order is lost. Second, it lets artists go buck wild with blood and gore, often with reckless abandon.
Comic books have run the gauntlet from artistic and philosophical explorations of the zombie apocalypse to brainless gorefests purely written for fun. Regardless of the goal, there’s no denying the comic book industry got a lot of mileage out of the genre.
10 Zombies vs Robots
zombies vs. robots may sound like a mindless gorefest (and it sometimes is), but the art and story have a bleak and philosophical tone to them. In the zombie apocalypse, robots are tasked with protecting the only remaining human baby in the world.
Soon, only one robot remains, a combat unit named Bertie who is designed purely to fight zombies. This is one of the few “Crisis Crossover” events in IDW’s history, as this same virus reaches their other properties such as Ghostbusters and Star Trek.
izombie is an unorthodox story in the zombie genre. Instead of being an apocalypse, it’s in a relatively normal world similar to ours, only with hidden supernatural elements. Gwen Dylan, the protagonist, is a “revenant” who can pass as normal, but only if she eats brains once a month. With each bit of brain, however, comes a series of unwanted memories.
izombie revolves around the concept of “oversoul” and “undersoul”. An “oversoul” was a being’s thoughts, memories, and personality. Meanwhile, “undersoul” is the seat of all emotions and appetites. The lack of one or the other is how you get zombies (not oversoul) or vampires (not undersoul). Gwen has to deal with all these supernatural threats while juggling her “normal” life as a twenty-something gravedigger.
8 Night of the Living Deadpool
Night of the Living Deadpool might sound like a roaring good time full of quips and bloody good action, but that premise is viciously subverted. Night of the Living Deadpool is a bleak look into a future dominated by the undead. There are no cameos from other Marvel heroes or villains.
The only hero left is Deadpool. The comic manages to portray the complete desolation of the apocalypse amazingly. Deadpool’s funny dialogue and colorful costume contrast with the completely monochrome wasteland he now inhabits. Even more horrifically, zombies in this universe are fully aware of what they’re doing. They simply can’t help themselves from eating flesh.
7 Scooby Apocalypse
Scooby Apocalypse isn’t just limited to the zombie menace, though they are a constant presence. In this universe, all the supernatural threats the gang faces are not businessmen looking to make a scam. The threats are very real dangers to the gang, and they have to do a lot more than solve mysteries to survive.
The storyline is about as absurd as you expect these types of stories to be. The tone is a bit more serious than most Scooby Doo stories, but they still retain that Mystery Inc. spirit. For readers in the mood to see some classic childhood characters fight a bunch of monsters, Scooby Apocalypse can scratch that itch.
6 The Kingdom of the Gods
The Kingdom of the Gods is the source material for the hit Netflix series Kingdom. For the unfamiliar, The Kingdom of the Gods is set after the historic Imjin War in Korea. Everywhere, a mysterious illness seems to be killing hundreds of people at a time, and no cure can be found. Soon, however, the illness would reveal itself to be something far more sinister.
The Kingdom of the Gods is a unique take on the genre. Instead of taking place in the modern-day, it gives readers a look into how people without any modern conveniences such as cars, guns, or even modern medicine deals with a mysterious zombie virus.
5 I Am a Hero
I Am a Hero is a zombie manga ideal for resident Evil fans and is equal parts uncomfortably grounded and downright absurd. The story focuses on 35-year-old Hideo Suzuki, a struggling and deeply troubled artist whose series was axed six months ago. Soon, the zombie apocalypse begins and the depressed Hideo sets out to give his life meaning by being someone’s hero.
The story is set in a very authentic incarnation of 2009 Japan, but the zombies themselves look horrifying. Often mangling into each other in Cronenbergian body horror, these disgusting scenes juxtapose with Hideo’s ramblings about the manga industry. I Am a Hero is a confusing rollercoaster of emotions, but it’s well worth the read.
4 Afterlife with Archie
For the people who thought the Punisher visiting Archie’s school was weird, Afterlife with Archie must seem downright insane. Often seen as the inspiration for the equally weird storylines of Riverdale, Afterlife with Archie explore what the cast of the 50s rom-com would do in a zombie apocalypse.
The storyline starts simple enough. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is shaken awake by a distressed Jughead. Her beloved dog, Hot Dog, had died and he begs Sabrina for a way to bring him back. Naturally, things go to hell very quickly, and Jughead, Archie’s best friend and one of the most popular characters in the original series, becomes Patient Zero for the zombie virus.
Not wanting to be outdone by their rival’s massively successful Marvel Zombies storylines, DC took a swing at their own massive zombie crossover event. DCeased is an Elseworlds story wherein the infamous Anti-Life equation is corrupted. Instead of controlling all life, the Anti-Life equation turns infected into viciously violent undead monsters.
much like Marvel Zombiesthis story gives readers an idea of just how terrifying the idea of superpowered zombies would be. DCeased does not shy away from killing famous characters, but despite that, the story is actually a lot more hopeful in tone than its Marvel counterpart.
two Marvel Zombies
Marvel Zombies is set in an alternate earth where “the Hunger Gospel” infects all of Marvel’s iconic characters. In mere days, the entire world they live in is consumed. Now, they traverse universes to spread the infection and feast on the remains of any they come across.
Each Marvel Zombies miniseries is completely random in tone, but that’s what makes the concept fun. One story might be a depressingly bleak world where no chance of a cure is possible, such as the first Marvel Zombies. Other times, it’s absolutely hilarious shenanigans like Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness. Ash Williams’s bad luck does manifest itself in the weirdest of ways.
one The Walking Dead
to nobody’s surprise, The Walking Dead stands atop the zombie apocalypse genre, and it is well-deserved. The comic book is responsible for revitalizing a genre that had been bled dry at this point. Instead of being an action-packed zombie action series, it is instead a deep dive into the hidden savagery of humanity when the end is upon them.
While the TV series has become a shambling corpse of itself as well, there’s no denying the impact it had on pop culture. When people think of zombies, it’s no longer just George A. Romero’s classic movies. Now, they’ll be thinking of Rick Grimes and his ragtag group of survivors, looking for ways to live in a world that had already died.
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