Zombies are everywhere, and not in the "we have to run for our lives" way. Zombies have invaded American culture. They are in every facet of our daily lives: books, television shows, movies, toys, video games, etc. It was only a matter of time before hordes of the undead invaded our comic books. Seems like you can't walk down the aisle of your local comic book shop with seeing a zombie on the cover or a zombie fighting something or a zombie hugging a tree (hippie zombies). Has this gimmick gotten out of control? 100% without a doubt yes.
Zombies aren't a new thing. They've been around a lot longer than you think. The term goes back to Hatian Voodoo culture round the early 1800s, so that makes the idea of the dead coming back to life in zombie or "zombi" for over 200 years old. The term comes from Africa as well. Zombi, back then, was more about magic. While these days, zombies are explained scientifically, usually the body is taken over by a virus or disease instead of a Voodoo priest using magic to bring the body back to life.
However, current zombies that we all know and used to love started with the classic George Romero film Night of the Living Dead back in 1968. He redefined what a zombie is and since then, America has gone zombie crazy, especially in the past decade, and we've seen a lot of that just within the medium of comic books. Is this gimmick overused or am I just blowing it out of proportion?== TEASER ==
Believe it or not, the first appearance of a zombie in a comic book was toward the end of the golden age of comics. Back in 1949, a character called Bombie the Zombie appeared in an issue of Four Color by Dell books. It was a Donald Duck comic. That's right, the first appearance of a zombie character was in a Disney book. Bombie the Zombie was a zombified member of the Voodoo Tribe of Africa. He has super-human strength, but he was slow and not too bright. He only appeared in 14 issues, but Bombie paved the way for decades of flesh eating madness.
During the 70s and 80s, there were a slew of zombie films, but the concept really didn't blow up until 2002 and 2004. In 2002, 28 Days Later was released, and even though the creatures in the film weren't true zombies, it helped re-imagine the zombie-genre by popularizing "fast zombies." In 2004, the remake of Dawn of the Dead was released and this film implemented the "fast zombie" that fans had seen two years prior. From there, the zombie genre blew up and it seemed like you couldn't go a week without seeing at least one straight to DVD zombie flick.
Soon enough, we started seeing this genre blow up in the world of comics books. You couldn't turn your head without seeing something zombie on the shelf. What started this trend in comics off? Well, like most trends, it starts with the best, and the best in this case is The Walking Dead. The book originally written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Tony Moore was and still is a huge success. What happened after that? Well, we got a slew of terrible zombie-related comics and the only one that really stands out, above the vast majority, is the first two volumes of Marvel Zombies. You know why that book worked so well though? Because it was written by Robert Kirkman.
Aside from that, there really isn't a zombie book that is worth the time or money of any comic book reader, except 28 Days Later, which technically isn't a zombie comic. There was this time, which you can still see on your local shelf, where every comic was "Zombies vs." Examples: Zombies vs Robots, Zombies vs Cheerleaders, Sorority Girls vs Zombies, Ninjas vs Zombies, and there are a few others. Overkill much? It seems like zombies have beef with almost everyone and everything.
These series could be amazing, but the problem is that many casual zombie fans will be turned off to it because the market is over-saturated with it. How will they know what to pick up, especially when the majority of the product isn't good. It's just companies trying to cash in on a "hot ticket item." Sure, the hardcore fans are going to buy everything, but the average consumer is going to feel overwhelmed and walk away.
What makes this gimmick so overused, aside from companies cashing in on a hot trend? Well, there's not much you can do with zombies. All these guys really do is roam around and look for things to eat. Walking Dead works so well because it's more about human survival than zombies. Marvel Zombies worked so well because it was zombies with super-powers. 28 Days Later worked so well because it was based off a hit film. At this point, almost anything you can do with the little buggers has been done, and while it may be cool to see them strolling around in packs, there's not much more anyone can bring to the table when it comes to comic books.
Why not take the element back to its roots? We're talking before the Night of the Living Dead films. Why hasn't anyone tried to do a zombie book about the voodoo origins of the monster? I'm sure something like that exists in the past, but how about a contemporary spin on it? Last year, DC tried their hand at the world of zombies (aside from 2004 book by George Romero, Toe Tags), and they created a summer event out of it.
Blackest Night may have seemed a bit of the same-old, same-old at first, but it had some new elements to the gimmick. Sure, it was, in a sense, a lot like Marvel Zombies where super-heroes and villains become zombies, but the nice twist was that there was an ultimate force driving the zombies. This is what a lot of fans are hoping to see, a new twist on an old classic. It takes away from the redundancy that zombies in comic books have become. It felt like being at home with a rearranged living room: comforting and homey yet new.
Traditional zombies have been a part of the mainstream media since 1968, and it's not going anywhere, but maybe what the public needs is a bit of a break from the redundant story lines of zombies invading a town or zombies battling some other gimmicky person. Currently, Walking Dead is going strong, and in no way should it stop; however, all these other books just seem to be taking up shelf space and nothing more. Is it time for a change? Yes. What do you guys think? Are zombies a bit over done or are they still books you want to read? What is your favorite zombie-related book? What is your least favorite?