Week 5: Zombies Vs. Robots
Chris Ryall returns to what is arguably my favorite zombie related franchise: Zombies Vs. Robots (ZvR), a story that began in late 2006, about the time IDW finished another zombies miniseries: Zombies! Feast (more on that in a later review), a series of miniseries that he began with artist extraordinaire Ashley Wood, seriously, if you haven’t checked these books out you should. Wood’s art is amazing!
The story goes like this: The world has been overrun by zombies. The only way humans could begin to defend themselves is by creating an army that couldn’t be turned against them: Robots. They made many different ones including my personal favorites: Guardbots. Guardbots are big, lumbering hulks who have little patience for anything and tend to be a bit on the sarcastic side (the robots in this world have gained near sentience). Which is something you can easily be when there is very little around that can hurt you.
I mention the Guardbots because they are the main ‘Bots in this issue, though I think I saw a Warbot with them. So the Martians have discovered the humans ‘stargate’ located in the Kirtland Munitions Storage Complex located in New Mexico. It was what the humans were using to look into other realities. The Martians figure if they can synch their own gate with the human’s gate then they would have an open door to use and will quickly be able to wipe everyone out. The only possible problem is organic material cannot pass through without making the gate explode. Their intelligence leads them to believe that the Guardbot is actually a human battlesuit going through the gate to prevent disaster. Their own battlesuits, which we’ve all seen, are much better, more sleek and easier to handle.
An elite team of Martians is sent through the gate and while they are prepared for, and looking forward to, killing humans left and right, they are met with a world in ruins. Wandering the nearby city they are met with their first humans, but not living ones. Needless to say, the Martians aren’t prepared for it and they lose one or two.
The fun really picks up when they meet up with the Guardbots. They think the ‘Bots are still humans but are soon corrected. Guardbots don’t really like people. As they converse, the Martians Lev tells the Guardbots they are peaceful and only wish to help the humans find a cure. Further talk brings to light that while the ‘Bots all thought the equipment in Kirtland was no longer functioning, the stargate is. One of the ‘Bots goes with Lev to contact the Martians while the rest of the ‘Bots take the remaining Martians to show them how Guardbots handle things.
Yes, that means as soon as Lev and his ‘Bot are gone the Martians get wiped out.
At Kirtland, Lev has a final conversation with the ‘Bot who ends things by explaining what he hates more than zombies: Illegal Aliens. At the close of this issue we find out how explosive a stargate can be when organic material goes through it.
It’s a great read. Sadly, however, I understand that this is probably the only book in the series that may not appeal to everyone because it’s an IDW exclusive property. Unless you’re familiar with Zombies Vs. Robots you may not understand the appeal and fun of this book. I still recommend it because, well, it has Martians,zombies, and robots in it. That’s like the triple threat of sweet! With Ryall writing it the voice of the robots is dead on. Long time fans of the ZvR line will feel right at home while new fans (hopefully) will get a general explanation of what happened here and will, also hopefully, seek out the ZvR books. For me, personally, all this does is make me want another ZvR story from Ryall and Wood. If you read this, Mr. Ryall: pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!
On the art side Andy Kuhn does a spectacular job keeping the established look of the ZvR world and brings the Martians in without them looking out-of-place. Ryall, if Wood isn’t available for a ZvR series I would HIGHLY recommend Andy Kuhn for the job. Hell, I’d love a ZvR book with Kuhn on the interiors and another fantastic Ashley Wood cover.
So, as a wrap-up, this does a great job, the explosion at the end kind of brings to an end the Martian invasion on other realities but the question now is will there be any lingering impacts on these realities? And will the Martian experiences during this impact their current invasion in Mars Attacks? I’m hoping for ‘yes’ answers all around but only time will tell.
My final thoughts on this one? It was a lot of fun. The Popeye installment really surprised me and while KISS was the only one I didn’t really get into (because I’m not much of a KISS fan) all the parts in this were worth the read, and in some cases multiple reads. what also brought it all together were the covers. I’ve mentioned them in every review I’ve done but I have to do it again. Ray Dillon did an amazing job on all of these covers. I hope IDW doesn’t just let these covers fade away, I would love to have them as prints. I tip my hat to Ray for the amazing covers.
This issues variants were equally fun: Dave Sim’s Cerebus, always nice to see Dave Sim art! And John Byrne’s ROG-2000, a character I have to admit to being totally ignorant of but I like the look and it’s got a place in my collection!
Thanks to everyone involved in this event, it was a lot of fun and I look forward to the 2014 IDW Event!
*The Mars Attacks IDW trade paperback collection will be available in April. Check with your local comic shop for ordering information*