To celebrate the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC this Sunday, we here at Techland will be picking out our favorite formerly deceased monsters across comics, games, film and other media. The zombie myth’s been around for centuries and has been reinterpreted almost as much as vampire lore. At their most basic, though, zombies represent us and everything that can go wrong (or right?) on the dark side of human nature. We’ll be trying to show off some of the most intriguing examples of that symbolism as My Favorite Zombie rolls out.
It’s heresy, I know, but I don’t really like zombies. Don’t get me wrong; I know that they have their uses, and there are quite a few zombie movies and books and comics and whatnot that I really enjoy. But zombies themselves? They’re kind of dull. That might be the point – they’re mindless, shambling, rotting detournments of us, after all, so expecting the charm, wit or charisma of a Dracula or a Darth Vader from your average zombie really might be asking for trouble. That’s why the Black Lanterns from DC Comics’ Blackest Night made me so happy.
Somewhere, Blackest Night writer Geoff Johns is saying right now that the Black Lanterns aren’t really zombies, and technically, he’s right: They’re actually weird alien constructs that have the appearance and memories of dead people but exist purely to evoke strong emotions in their prey before killing them and fueling their undead master, Nekron (And yes, as I write this out I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s partially what makes them so cool). But that’s just details, and I don’t care about details; the Black Lanterns are rotting versions of your favorite superheroes and supervillains back from the dead to kill you. Seems pretty zombie-esque to me.
But what made the Black Lanterns so appealing to me was that every single one of them was a dick. It’s not just that they had personalities and could talk and go with the snappy dialogue if necessary, but that every single one of them existed to taunt and torment their prey, and would happily go for the low blow just to save time. Fathers would tell sons that they were disappointments that they’d never loved, villains would remind heroes that they’d murdered them and failed their own moral standards in doing so, and babies would bite their mothers to infect them in plot developments that just seemed out of nowhere. The Black Lanterns, as a whole, were schooled in the art of cheap shots, which just made them all the more fun as villains: They’d rip out your heart figuratively as a prelude to doing so literally. Who doesn’t love that?
Black Lanterns mixed everything I liked about zombies – the idea that death not only isn’t the end, but what comes afterwards is more horrible, the fear of infection, the horror of loved ones returning as horrible monsters – with everything that I thought was missing about them: character, superpowers, skintight costumes… They were the best of both worlds, and a sad reminder that, however good something like 28 Days Later or The Walking Dead may be, it could always have been better if one of the undead has laser vision.
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