Happy Halloween, my friends! The tricks are out in full force, the treats are given & consumed, the spirits of old are flying through the nighttime skies and the undead are terrorizing everyone within the realms of fiction. As such, I welcome you to the final installment of this certain review series known as…
Over the course of this series, we’ve delved into IDW Publishing’s four-issue adaptation of Edgar Wright’s beloved zom-com. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t limited to a simple film-to-page translation like most movies got. As a special treat for you all, we’re going to delve into a few comics that’re interwoven throughout the main narrative and may even answer some lingering questions to those who’re familiar with the film, but were left puzzled on how they were resolved.
We begin our excursion within the pages of this particular periodical. For those who aren’t familiar with what this is, allow me to briefly explain. 2000 A.D. is a science-fiction magazine released in the United Kingdom, with its first issue being published back in 1977. It’s published on a weekly-basis and has introduced several mainstay concepts such as Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, ABC Warriors and many others. Most notably though, it’s responsible for including its most well-known character in John Wagner’s Judge Dredd. Because he’s had a strong presence upon the British and American comic scene, there’s a good chance that I’ll do something with him down the line. For now though, let’s highlight one particular issue (or “Prog” as it’s called over in Union Jack land). Issue #1,384 was released on April 7, 2004, two days before the movie made its U.K. release. As the last story told within this periodical, it actually delves into a minor character from the movie.
Do you remember the opening credits and seeing this particular woman? For anyone who may be pondering as to how she goes from a mundane worker to one of the ghastly ghouls that wound up in Shaun & Ed’s backyard, we’re here to find out as Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright actually wrote this tale, while Frazer Irving handles the artwork and Annie Parkhouse takes care of letting. As such, let’s delve into this tale and find out how “There’s Something About Mary”.
We open at the Landis Supermarket where a cashier named Mary is at work. It turns out that Shaun is also there as she points out the red stain on his shirt before he mentions that it’s his leaking pen and heads out. However, her next customer is a creepy-looking pudgy man who’s interested in getting a kiss from her. She eventually takes her leave from the market once her shift ended, but the devious guy was waiting and proceeds to follow her as they ride the bus. Afterwards, she notices his slow pursuit before accidentally bumping into Shaun again shortly after he acquired the bouquet for his mother. She tries calling out to him, but he doesn’t hear her as he takes his leave. From there, she arrives at the Winchester Tavern and asks a fellow patron if she can join him due to her being presently stalked. The guy accepts as she sits down and tells him that she won’t stay long. However, she proceeds to hang out there for a while and long enough for Shaun to arrive & drink his heartbroken sorrows away with Ed. Back with Mary, she tells the patron that she didn’t have many job opportunities following her time in college. Shortly afterwards, the guy says that he’s getting very sick and is in need of seeing a doctor. She proceeds to help him out of the pub before he collapses over as Mary begins to yell out for anyone to assist her. Unbeknownst to her however, it turns out that the guy has become a zombie as he gets up and bites her shoulder before she runs away. Sometime later, the creepy stalker finds her lying in a bloodied mess as he once again asks for a kiss. Suddenly, it’s revealed that she became a zombie as she bites his face. From there, she notices Shaun and Ed drunkenly walking back to their home. As such, the story ends with our familiar duo arriving back at their place with the zombified Mary having followed them.
Even though this final batch of things related to the film aren’t necessarily comics per se, I feel like giving you a wholesome pile of treats to chow down on for Halloween and beyond. On both the DVD & the Blu-Ray, there’s a particular Bonus Feature called “Plot Holes” where certain moments (mainly from the third act) have their unresolved narrative questions answered through storyboards done by Oscar Wright. For fun’s sake, I’ve decided to share them with you!
In “What Happened To Shaun When He Ran Off?”, Simon Pegg narrates (while staying in character) that he managed to distract the massive zombie hoard so that his group could get inside the Winchester Tavern. Because the ghouls lumbered at a slow pace, he had to stop every 50 meters (slightly above 164 feet) just so he could keep their attention. Eventually, he manages to evade them by hiding in a dumpster (or a Skip as the British call it) and wait a bit for them to lumber on by. From there, he hopped out and ran back to rejoin his group, unaware that one lone zombie in said pack noticed him. As I mentioned during my review of the main series, the fourth issue was wise to include this detail since it explains why Shaun is confronted by the overwhelming undead over by the back door as he’s restoring power to the pub. This sequence was probably cut from the movie for pacing reasons and to leave the audience in a bit of suspense, but it’s still nice that IDW kept this moment in their adaptation.
In “What Happened To Dianne When She Left The Winchester?”, the eventual Etta Candy of 2017 herself Lucy Davis (also staying in character) explains that she was fighting through the zombie hoard in a desperate attempt to rescue the mutilated David armed only with his leg. As it dawned on her that no amount of First Aid skills would be any good at this point and the fact that she had drifted too far from the Winchester Tavern in order to make a proper retreat, she managed to climb up a nearby tree before passing out from the exhaustion of the situation. When she eventually woke up, she saw the nearby pub burnt and that the area was entirely vacant. Because she was being cautious, she stayed in the tree for several days with only David’s severed leg as her lone food source. Afterwards, she finally climbs down and learns that the area is under Quarantine, not to mention that the zombie menace had ended. As such, she went off and moved in to her aunt’s place in Birmingham where she keeps in contact with Shaun and Liz.
Finally, we have “How Did Ed Get From The Cellar To The Shed?” as narrated by Nick Frost (also in character, despite what happened to him by the end). In his tale, he decided to go down fighting as he managed to take out of a pair of zombies with his two remaining shots. Thankfully, his second kill provided enough of a barricade for him to hide underneath the stairs. Not too long afterwards, the specialized unit arrives to take out the remaining zombies. They didn’t find Ed down below as he was unable to call out for help due to him having lost a lot of blood. Later on, he finally loses his life and became a zombie. At least one week later, Shaun returned to pay his respects and surprisingly found his newly-ghoulish friend. During the night, he lured the zombified Ed back to his house and puts him in the shed. Over the next six months, Ed has been locked up there and got placed through “a rigorous training program”. To end on a happy note, he no longer has the urge to eat Shaun.
As for my thoughts on these particular bonus items, they each provide a neat contribution towards the main film. “There’s Something About Mary” gives a simple side-story to a character who only became prominent in one scene. While her backstory is only given a simple stroke, it became interesting to also get some insight on the ghoul that joined her in their initial attack upon Shaun & Ed. While the obese pervert does get his comeuppance in both this tale and in the movie, it does make Mary a somewhat tragic woman. She was a simple worker who wasn’t able to do much past college just like Shaun, but never got a chance to make something out of her life. It’s possible that she can serve as a counterpoint to Yvonne on the scale of where Shaun could possibly end up character-wise since Yvonne is presented as someone who has her life sorted out and is firmly in control of it. If Shaun never made the necessary changes, then it’s possible that he could have wound up as directionless as Mary, whether or not zombies ever came into play and caught him while he was off-guard. Either way, Mary receiving some extra treatment within the pages of Great Britain’s famed sci-fi magazine was unexpected and mainly unnecessary in the grand scheme of the movie, but Pegg & Wright deliver this simple premise with energetic fervor as the mostly black-and-white artwork helps certain details stand out. Not only that, but it’s mainly detailed and presentable throughout its five-page run. While it was originally presented in the featured issue of 2000 A.D. and you can attempt to hunt down a copy, a cheaper alternative does exist within the Bonus Features section of the DVD and the Blu-Ray as its presented in its entirety. Moving on to the Plot Holes section, they’re quick and humorous little bits. With each one of them running under 90 seconds, each character’s respective actor efficiently explains what happened to them within their precise moment in the main story. Shaun’s tale shows him in a way where he’s using some resourceful thinking in order to outwit the lumbering zombies. The lone ghoul that notices him as he heads back to the Winchester Tavern is a sign that our main character isn’t a completely changed man yet, since his self-obliviousness (which was on full display during his walk to the mini mart in the beginnings of the zombie outbreak) ultimately comes back to bite him as it also explains how the massive undead hoard managed to slowly make their way back. Because the movie is only 1 hour, 39 minutes long, I wouldn’t mind if an extra minute was added in order for this detail to have been included. While Dianne’s tale is humorous and miraculous, it’s a detail that doesn’t really change much. After all, those who’re unfamiliar with anything outside of this film would just assume that she eventually got consumed by the zombies. After all, she’s never seen again shortly after David gets ripped apart. However, Lucy Davis’ line delivery throughout this moment still makes it worth watching as she keeps up the humorous and fast-talking performance that she effectively displayed from the movie. Finally, Ed’s tale is just as effective as our first P.H. description. It gives him a bit more awesomeness to add onto what he’s already done throughout the main narrative before he finally gives into his ghoulish end. With the addition of Shaun in this tale, it’s clear that Ed is still important to him. However, he’s mainly used for sessions of TimeSplitters as Shaun has to limit this level of recreation now that he’s finally in a solidified relationship with Liz. Despite that, Nick Frost’s delivery of this tale assures us that he’s the same guy filled with slacker-sized fun despite his undead get-up. It’s a side that Shaun can still enjoy, but in proper moderation. As such, Ed’s presence within the shed allows him to have his cake and eat it too. Anyway, that’ll do it for my look at the printed material connected to Edgar Wright’s international breakthrough film. As you lumber through the autumn-filled skies in order to delve into a variety of tricks and treats, always make sure that you’re prepared for whatever the festivities have in store. No matter what, may your enjoyment levels soar high, take flight amongst the many spirits and let all of your candies be ultimately consumed like the best slice of fried gold!
Shaun Of The Dead (created by Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg) is owned by Universal Pictures.