After the not-so-surprising reveal of the Big Bad last issue, the citizens of Arcadia face an invasion of zombies from a different area of Battleworld. It all comes down to the über-power of a character, who finally gets her name halfway through the comic just in time for her to become the deus ex machina, as I predicted. But, hey, what’s one more lack of surprise in a series that’s going to be looked back upon as more like “Eh-Force.”

To be fair, most of the fun of this comic has always been in seeing the cameos of dozens and dozens of Marvel’s heroes, particularly the women. (By the way, isn’t “hero” supposed to be a gender neutral term, anyway? Aren’t we past the point of saying “heroine” that differentiates an “other,” as was termed in this book a couple of times?) In that respect, this comic doesn’t disappoint. I could spend the remainder of this review’s word count simply listing out my favorites, or just the surprising moments of seeing long-forgotton ones taking up some background action. It lets you linger on the page for a while with little bursts of “oh, cool!”

When looking for more sophisticated storytelling, however, there’s much disappointment. The plot is so straight-forward that it’s become brittle and will snap at any moment. Zombies show up, heroes fight, and everything is taken care of by the new (and most likely the writers’ pet) character. For some reason, this has allowed the women to learn something about themselves and grow. You know, as better people.

The action, for all that’s there, only consists of a panel where a character poses with his/her hand outstretched with some glows and/or color added. Or maybe with a foot high in the air mid-kick. I could fill out the remainder of this review’s word count simply listing the number of characters with a foot in the air.

Dialogue shows flashes of playfulness, but they neither show depth nor further of plot or tone, ultimately meaning nothing. Namor quipping “Sushi, anyone?”, floating above the sea that’s somehow exploding or having rocks thrown into it? A series of disassociated panels, connected only by banter of fanfiction and bar room hangouts? Jokes are attempted, but they are obvious, ill-placed, or mere vain attempts.

Similarly, most of the action is just a set piece for one panel at a time, which hardly makes for sequential storytelling. Other attempts don’t work, like Photon blasting a whole through a Hulk-zombie, saying she “got [someone] covered” when nobody was set up to be in danger in the first place. A giant shark monster shows up again out of nowhere for some reason, because it’s now a zombie, I guess, and one panel shows zombies climbing the wall of the Shield even though the whole point was that a giant section was blown up.

Some of the panel layouts display deliberate choices, such as the opening page being an aggregate of panels from various characters that make a single portrait. The height of the action sprawls across double-page spreads. But largely panels remain largely static pieces, despite the actions they depict. As I’ve wondered before, I suspect this storytelling fault is a result of the scripter not the artist. I can imagine reverse-engineering a script to read “Panel 1: So-and-So and Whatshername fight zombies. Panel 2: Another and Her Too fire their guns at zombies.” It makes for a fine “Official Handbook” or Who’s Who catalogue or checklist, but not much of a high-stakes epic story.

Finally, there’s the whole Singularity thing. She gives her name in a whisper to Nico Minoru, as if it’s a climax to a subplot that’s been wholly unnecessary, but that strains credibility that someone who’s supposedly captivated the love of all these new friends has never been addressed or talked about by name. She’s less a true friend that has to sacrifice herself and more of a lost puppy that was found and petted and allowed to leave into the sunset. It’s disappointing that a story that’s meant to celebrate women has to resort to reducing its main hero to a mere plot device. It’s never addressed in the story, so I’ll assume her superpowers are to display caricatured doe-eyes, fly, and create whirlpools of starfield-stuff, and to explode. The subsequent last panels allow her to sprinkle her remains of star-dust (with zombie-bits, most likely) on the scene below, as a now-She-Hulk-sized Nico embraces Jennifer. If/when Singularity returns, I’m sure her civilian name will be Mary Sue.

Grade

C-

Conclusion

Sorry, everyone, but this is just bland. There’s nothing here to latch onto except a Where’s Waldo-style game to catch a cameo of your favorite hero as a zombie horde descends into the land of Arcadia. It’s all wrapped up without any real effort by a complete cypher that’s meant to be the heart of the series, and we’re supposed to celebrate this?