[Undead report] A metaphor for America

Do zombie superheroes represent the Bush administration?

Steven Wells

Every now and then pop culture coughs up an image that defines an era. The first images of the atomic bomb. Or Tommy Smith punching out a black-power salute on the podium at the Mexico Olympics. Or the iconic Che Guevara, staring moodily off into the imperialism-free future.

What image defines our era? With the world’s only superpower in the hands of a satanic coalition of the venal and the pious? After four years of the stupidest war since the last stupidest war? What brain-searing icon could possibly sum up a war in which—to quote pundit Frank Rich—U.S. troops treated prisoners in Abu Ghraib to “forced group masturbation, electric shock, rape committed with a phosphorescent stick, the burning of cigarettes in a prisoner’s ears, involuntary enemas and beatings that ended with death.”

Which star-spangled superhero will step forward to bravely personify an America where billions of taxpayer dollars are being squandered, embezzled, doled out to Republican contributors or just given to the rich in tax cuts? (Recent articles in Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone estimate that $8.8 billion in cash sent to Iraq—266 tons of it—just disappeared.)

Cometh the hour, cometh the psychotic former embodiment of truth, justice and the American way—now sadly semi-lobotomized and consumed with the irresistible lust to eat mankind.

Meet Zombie Colonel America—one of three poseable action figures (including Zombie Hulk and Zombie Spider-Man) released by Marvel to cash in on their massively successful Marvel Zombies comic book. Could there be a better metaphor for the Bush-buggered U.S. and its immoral and brutally incompetent foreign policy?

For those among us who would no more visit a comic-book store than a coprophiliac sweat lodge, in Marvel Zombies the Colonel (who, you might remember, started as Captain America, the product of a WWII genetic experiment to create the perfect supersoldier) gets infected with an interdimensional zombie disease. He then bites his fellow American superheroes, who go on a worldwide human hunt in a futile attempt to satiate their manic, out-of-control lust for energy (in the shape of warm human flesh).

I write this with the action figure box perched atop my monitor. The rotting face of Zombie Colonel America lurches at me—with the bald eagle chicks nesting in his now-empty brainpan screaming out to be fed. As a metaphor for rampant, inhuman, out-of-control, planet-raping corporate greed, could this image possibly be improved upon?

Turns out, yes. Having eaten all the humans, America’s superheroes then devour the Silver Surfer—cool alien herald of the planet-eating superduperbeing Galactus. And then they eat Galactus.  And then—newly empowered by the big G’s crackling cosmic mojo—our heroes jet into outer space and commence a galactic flesh-jihad in which they eat not only the occupants of other planets, but also the planets themselves.

Nobody at Marvel has as yet come out and admitted that Marvel Zombies is a deliberate sick, twisted, communistic satire on the oil-crazed Bush administration’s deranged imperialistic misadventures in the Middle East, which is cool. Because there’s every chance it’s not. Maybe some writer dude just thought, Like, zombie superheroes—cool.

Which would make Marvel Zombies the greatest act of accidental satire since Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Go U.S.A.! Eat world!

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