Hank McCoy (Before the Fur) - Part 2

Tedd Riccio is a comic book aficionado chock full of useful comic history knowledge. So why not tap into that knowledge for the betterment of you, the reader? Appearing weekly is a column by newly appointed Assistant Editor Tedd (just Tedd will be fine). This column is called “Hank McCoy (Before the Fur),” so be sure to keep your eyes open for his unique insights into comics. This is Part 2 of a 2 part expose if you will on zombies and their impact on comics. Unfortunately for those of us who are of the mind that Zombies shouldn’t be improved beyond the scope of their previous specifications, Marvel Zombies appears to be here to stay. That is to say, continuing stories concerning the Marvel Zombie universe are accumulating. In fact, the Marvel Zombie universe appears to even be interacting with Marvel’s other continuities. I’ve saved the most truly surreal and terrifying anecdote for last- Ultimate Marvel’s incarnation of the Frightful Four. Never heard of the Frightful Four? Most people haven’t. They were one of those many teams of supervillains in the Marvel Universe that never quite got it together. Like the Masters of Evil, the roster was constantly changing, so there was no set of characters that really stuck out to you, that made you go “Oh! That’s the Frightful Four! They’re totally (hardcore/bad-ass/lame/insert opinion here).” Recently, the concept of a dysfunctional anti-Fantastic Four has been making a come-back and the team’s only two consistent members, the Wizard and the Trapster, has brought in a few old allies to dog the FF here and there. Wizard, the brains of the Frightful Four, is hardly Victor Von Doom however and the Frightful Four tend to get curb stomped by the superior teamwork of their friendly, heroic counter-parts. NOW- the Ultimate revamp of Frightful Four? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. Zombie Reed. Zombie Sue. Zombie Johnny and Ben. From the Zombie-verse. In a REALLY disturbing story-arc in the Ultimate continuity, Reed gets contacted by another version of himself, claiming that he wants to help “himself” build an interdimensional portal so that the two can talk and share information. A huge mislead, the image Reed sees on his screen looks a lot like Reed Richards from the normal Marvel continuity. When the portal opens however: need I say the Z word again, in this editorial? Apparently, Frightful Four’s Reed, after being infected, decided that he and his family could start hoping from reality to reality. After all, although his thoughts were mostly consumed with flesh-eating madness, he still has the brains to build a interdimensional thingamajig. This way, his family would never run out of food. So Ultimate Frightful Four pull all of the tricks and teamworks you’d expect the normal FF to pull off- only to the end of eating men, women, and babies instead of saving them from burning buildings and such. Watching Frightful Thing yell “It’s Slobbering Time” and charging right at people, tongue flapping out of his mouth, particularly disturbs me. Oh but there’s more. You see, the zombie Marvel universe has a lot more in common with the mainstream Marvel timeline than the Ultimate one. In the latter, the FF are depicted as younger and just beginning to understand their powers. In the former, the FF are older, experienced, and pretty much the heroes that every other super-hero looks up to. What am I getting at here? Zombie Reed is a little bit smarter than Ultimate Reed. Zombie Sue uses her fields in more creative ways than Ultimate Sue. It isn’t just that their zombies (although that would be plenty scary enough). It’s that Ultimate Frightful Four can be expected to kick the crap out of the Ultimate FF eight out of ten times. And when the dust settles, it’s just a few bites before you have the Frightful Eight hopping from dimension to dimension. Did I mention that Frightful Four’s Reed went totally insane BEFORE they all became Zombies anyway? I thought that was a particularly gruesome touch to round out their origin story. See, that bit I mentioned earlier- about She-Hulk chowing down on Reed and Sue’s children? Reed must have just lost it at that point. Because Marvel Zombies: Dead Days depicts him getting more and more distant from Sue and more and more fascinated with the infection spreading through his world. In what has to be, in my mind, in the top ten most horrifying, even pseudo-incestuous scenes ever depicted in Marvel comics, Reed announces to his soon to be Frightful teammates that the infection is elevating everyone around them to a superior form of life. In fact, Reed has even taken the liberty of infecting all of them in secret in order to expedite the process. While they all begin to protest, they’re caught short, writhing in protest and spitting up blood out of their mouths. As Susan screams at her husband, Reed asks her something like “Is it truly so terrible, that we would all end up as ravenous beasts?” And then, as all three of the now zombied FF members began to sink their teeth into Reed, he smiles with this almost erotic pleasure and starts saying things like “Yes! My family! I want to experience every moment of my transformation!” and so on. All in all, you couldn’t ask for a better revamp of a lame concept. Ultimate Frightful Four live up to their name and scares the bejeezus out of me. While the super-hero fights his or her evil alternate double from a parallel universe schtick is played out, I certainly think these freaky doppelgangers are quickly becoming among the most memorable of the FF’s small rogue’s gallery. So all in all, I guess some good came out of this whole Zombie business anyway. Even though Zombies are never okay and I don’t endorse improving them. Still. Maybe I’m ambivalent about this issue. Or maybe I just like saying the word “zombie” in this editorial. A lot. Have to consider what I meant by all this and get back to everyone. Right now, I’m just a little anxious about the thought of a being lured into another dimension by an intelligent zombified version of myself. I’m going to go outside now and sit very quietly.