For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the headlines lately, I've got some bad news: Since January 1st, there have been dozens of reports of mass animal deaths coming in from all over the world. From blackbirds in Arkansas to doves in Italy to over 150 tons of fish in Vietnam, critters all over the place are falling out of the sky and/or washing ashore, with no apparent reason why.

Guys. It's the friggin' apocalypse.

Or maybe not. There are actually plenty of explanations floating around, ranging from an unusually cold winter to the fact that this sort of thing actually happens pretty often, all the way down to that ol' standby, the vengeance of an angry God. But whatever the actual explanation is, there's one thing for sure: you're going to be reading about this one in your comics.

Just like the still unexplained Tunguska Event of 1908, which provided a plot point for everything from Donald Duck to Atomic Roboto the work of Warren Ellis, the current situation is just too good for writers to pass up, and it's only a matter of time before it starts cropping up in your favorite stories. That's why today, we're getting a jump on things by suggesting the five most likely comic book explanations!

When the news about dead birds falling out of the sky on New Year's Day came out, my friend Ken Lowery sent out an email that was just a link to the news story and the line "This is how the zombie movie starts." And he was exactly right.

Fortunately, none of us are actually living in a zombie movie -- not yet, anyway -- but the pieces are all there. The only things you need to ad are leaky barrels full of highly suspect chemicals dumped into the Atlantic ocean and/or spilled on a faulty air conditioning unit and sent out in the air, and it's only a matter of time until those "dead" birds stagger up off the pavement and start flying directly at jugular veins.

And seriously? That would be terrifying. I mean, The Birds is a horror classic even without the addition of the staggering hordes of the living dead. Flying zombies, people. And really, have you ever tired to get a headshot on a hummingbird? It's damn near impossible.

Plus, there's the fact that whatever story uses this would inevitably involve a parrot saying "Polly Want... Polly Want... Polly want braaaaains!" And while that might be less scary and more hilarious, it still needs to happen.

The first time Galactus showed up on Earth, the sky turned to fire, then it turned to rocks, and then, most terrifying of all, a gigantic dude in a purple miniskirt stood spread-legged on top of a skyscraper issuing proclamations while the entire population of New York City did its best to avert its gaze, as there were some things man was simply not meant to know.

Anyway, if Galactus really is a force of nature in the Marvel Universe, then it makes sense that when he approaches, the rest of nature might get a little advance warning and decide that it's time to cut out early to avoid being transformed into the kind of mysterious energy that it takes to power a cosmic surfboard. Or, in a more circle-of-life all-are one sort of twist, maybe they dropped due to lending their life force to Mother Earth in order to help off the giant, tuning-fork-helmeted cosmic parasite!

Okay, okay, it's a bit of a stretch, so how about one that actually fits in a little better, but still goes along the same lines:

Much like her old man, Galacta, Daughter of Galactus subsists on a steady diet of the life force of living things, but unlike pops, she's a very picky eater who only dines on alien parasites left over on Earth after the many, many, many alien invasions that happen every few days in the Marvel Universe.

So this gives us two possibilities: Either the blackbirds, doves, pelicans, bats and various fish were secretly alien predators -- proving that there's simply no end to Skrull treachery -- or Galacta just fell victim to post-holiday stress and went on a binge of native (but thankfully non-sentient) life. 150 tons of fish might be a little extreme even when converted to cosmic kilocalories, but really, who hasn't broken their New Year's diet this early into the game?

Whenever something strange like this happens, there are always people who come out from beneath their tinfoil hats just long enough to assure us that all fault lies with the Government -- usually with an assist from the Illuminati, the New World Order, or, if you're listening to a particularly awesome episode of Coast To Coast AM, the reptilian overlords.

Unlike the usual round of conspiracy theories, I think this one might have some weight to it. Not in terms of the Government testing out super-secret magnetism guns on the blackbird population of Arkansas, but more in terms of recruitment. After all, if there's one thing I've learned from a lifetime of watching and reading G.I. Joe, it's that when you become a member of America's daring, highly trained special missions force, they fake your death so that you can act with impunity.

And if there's another thing I learned, it's that those dudes love to let animals do their dirty work:

Put those two facts together, and you've got the thrilling story of hundreds of birds and fish that aren't actually dead, but are being secretly trained to become the perfect operatives. They go anywhere. They see everything.


Let's face facts here, folks: When you spend your time asking a wizard who is quite literally older than dirt to throw lightning bolts at you from his home in a magic floating rock in another dimension, he's going to miss occasionally. And that means that every now and then, those lightning bolts are going to smack right into a flock of birds.

Of course, there is a pretty big hole in this theory, namely that if Shazam's lightning did hit birds, they probably wouldn't die. Instead, we'd get something a little more like this...

...only with more feathers.

Really though, when you get right down to it, there's one explanation that covers everythingg:

If you look closely at all the news stories, a pattern of sorts starts to emerge, and it is undeniably the same pattern that fits every single one of Cobra Commander's operations: A mysterious but undeniably sinister sequence of seemingly unrelated events from which absolutely no one appears to profit.

I have no trouble believing the planning session where this plan was approved. "Yesss, Dr. Mindbender! With the blackbirdssss dead, the insssssect population will grow unchecked, destroying local food ssssources! And then, when they try to import fish from other countries, the market will have been cornered... BY COBRAAAAAAA!"

Go ahead. Try to tell me that that is not as believable a plot as sending out radiation that burns all the money in America.

Plus, it's the only explanation that actually fits in with the real-world explanations. That unseasonably cold winter that's being blamed? Sounds to me like Destro finally worked out the kinks of the ol' Weather Dominator.

Call me, Hasbro. We can make this work.