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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | August 31, 2006

Okay, so I know not everyone enjoyed “Land of the Dead.”

Many people I’ve come across seemed to despise it. I however enjoyed it even in the light of its plot holes and paper thin story. I enjoy it, I really do. But Big Daddy has nothing on Bub.

Moving on, people have claimed they’re tired of the zombie genre.

We had the good but dumb “Dawn” remake, “Shaun of the Dead,” an upcoming “Day” remake, “Zombie Honeymoon” a very underrated indie horror film, and the remake of “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things.” And no, I don’t count “Cell,” or “28 Days Later,” since technically those monsters weren’t really zombies.

And now Romero wants to create another zombie film called “Diary of the Dead,” which is basically another mock documentary about a group of teens filming a movie in the woods who walk into a zombie apocalypse. But that’s been in the talking stages, and hasn’t solidified as a pure movie scoop just yet.

Some may reason that the zombie sub-genre is dead, a sub-genre once sparkling with life, yet now is only a distant shadow of its former self thanks to people who either derived from Romero, or just didn’t get what zombies were supposed to represent. I’m looking at you Paul W.S. Anderson.

But then again, I read “The Walking Dead,” and I know you can’t count out this genre just yet.

Much like Westerns, and mob movies, the zombie genre may die on film, but there’s always literature. Now, not all the literature for the genre are gold. “Remains” was pretty cheesy and blande.

But then there’s “The Walking Dead” from Robert Kirkman. If you’re not informed of it, “The Walking Dead” takes place in our world. Rick Grimes is a local officer who is shot in the line of duty and awakes from a coma to discover the world is over, and now zombies rule.

“28 Days Later,” you say? Yes, it sounds very similar, and Kirkman himself admits they’re entirely similar. But “The Walking Dead” is so much more. It’s a layered, well-written, and character-driven piece of drama that’s constantly changing shape.

Rick, now out of a coma, stumbles onto the hospital cafeteria to see zombies on the floor eating one another, barely makes it out alive, and now has to look for his wife and son… if they’re still alive that is. The tale of Rick Grimes moves around constantly. From his one man journey, to his leading a group of survivors, to run ins with the walking dead, to living in an RV, to watching his son nearly die, and so on.

Rick, as the leader of a group of survivors, has to make very hard decisions about their laws, their lives, and on how to deal with them. One storyline deals with a serial killer within the group, a love triangle with his wife and best friend, and when a member is bitten, he’s asked to be carried at the entrance of the city.

In four wordless panels, he’s carried to the entrance of the city, dying and sure to be zombified and left there to be turned. “The Walking Dead” then leads our characters to a maximum facility prison they decide would be the best place to live, but what surprises await them in there?

Surely, the allusions and references to the “Dead” films are there. And I’ll be the first to admit there’s nothing you can do with the genre anymore that Romero didn’t tackle, but “The Walking Dead” is an epic piece of zombie lore with so much characters to hate and root for, and presents many interesting concepts.

And then there’s “Marvel Zombies.” Cheesy? Oh yes. But, god is it ever fun. Marvel in their infinite wisdom recruits the creator of “The Walking Dead” to write this gem of a mini-series. You think killing, running and hiding from zombies is a pure bitch? What if these zombies had superpowers?

Stay with me now, what if Romero had invaded the Marvel Universe? What if the zombie principles applied to the superhero genre? In the opening scenes of “Marvel Zombies,” Magneto, the all-powerful metal controlling villain finds himself in the middle of the city running and trying to build the strength to fight back at a horde of zombies.

These zombies happen to be the most powerful heroes of the verse. Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, Giant Man, Daredevil, all of these people are on the hunt for Magneto and no matter how hard he fights them, they just won’t stop hunting for him.

“I know you’re not looking forward to being devoured,” says Zombie Cap America, “but I give you my word–if you surrender, I’ll make sure you die painlessly first…”

And then, in a series of very gruesome and utterly disturbing final panels, they catch up with him, and feast on the master of magnetism. The world’s most powerful heroes are flesh eating monsters. And in a truly demented plot twist, Ant Man is keeping Black Panther in a medicated coma, and carves pieces from him to eat. As for the rest of the series, you’ll just have to read it for yourself, I’ve already given too much away.

But, when you think the genre can’t get any better, or worse, there’s something or someone who challenges that formula and improves it. Or in the case of “The Walking Dead,” provides a fresh take. Or in the case of “Marvel Zombies,” twists it. Don’t count out the zombie genre yet.

Even though there has been news of a vegetarian zombie in the remake of “Day,” the zombie genre still has surprises for all of us, and hopefully there will be another Romero to give us something good to read. And “The Walking Dead,” and “Marvel Zombies” are a good example of that fact.

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