‘Marvel Zombies’ will return this October

‘The dead will walk again.’

Marvel Comics has announced that a brand new Marvel Zombies series will be launched in October 2019. Accompanying the announcement was a cover image from Inhyuk Lee featuring zombiefied versions of Captain America, Deadpool and Wolverine.

More details when they are forthcoming…

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Marvel Zombies was initially a five-issue limited series published from December 2005 to April 2006 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead) with art by Sean Phillips and covers by Arthur Suydam. The story is set in an alternate universe where the world’s superhero population has been infected with a virus which turned them into the undead. The series was spun out of events of the “Crossover” story-arc of Ultimate Fantastic Four, where the zombie Reed Richards tricked his Ultimate counterpart into opening a portal to the zombie universe.

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The series of titles begins with two Ultimate Fantastic Four story arcs, “Crossover” (2005) and “Frightful” (2006), by Mark Millar and Greg Land. The story arcs were followed by a Marvel Zombies limited series by Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips, who also created the prequel Marvel Zombies: Dead Days and sequel Marvel Zombies 2. A deal between Marvel and Dynamite Entertainment allowed for a crossover with Army of Darkness – Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness.

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With Marvel Zombies 3, Kirkman and Phillips were replaced by Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker. The team continued on to Marvel Zombies 4, a four-issue mini-series starting in April 2009. 

Van Lente then stayed on to write the first and last issues of Marvel Zombies Return a series of five one-shots looking at different aspects of the outbreak. With Marvel Zombies 5 he teamed up with Kano, with the story picking up from the end of Marvel Zombies 4.

A new series was launched in 2011, Marvel Zombies Supreme takes the zombie infection to Earth-712, the universe of Squadron Supreme. It has a new creative team of Frank Marraffino and penciller Fernando Blanco. 

This was followed by Marvel Zombies Destroy! set in a dimension where Nazi zombies won the war. It was initially written by Frank Marraffino, with art by Mirco Pierfederici but Marraffino’s health issue meant he had to hand over the writing reins to Peter David with issue #3.

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Like many of the best films dealing with zombies, no definitive explanation is given in any of the comics as to how our heroes have become infected, though references are made to scientific experimentation and space radiation – all we can say for certain is that there have been outbreaks across the Universe and there appears to be no discrimination as to who it infects – this includes Gods (both based ‘above’ and the likes of Thor), metallic beings such as Ultron and huge entities such as Galactus.

In a similar manner to zombie films post-Night of the Living Dead, a bite from an infected being will cause the same devastating effects to be transferred to the victim, providing enough useful flesh remains. Naturally, one of the things which sets to comic series apart from the films are that the characters retain many of their super-powers, which are supplemented by a raging hunger which can only be satiated by the consumption of living flesh.

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The disease is incredibly hard to stop once spreading, due to the high survival rate of all zombies. Zombies seem to only need their brain stem to survive and can continue living without any use of their organs, limbs, and body functions.The infection even allows severed heads without lungs or vocal cords to continue speech just to further its infection capability.

This was witnessed by Wasp and Hawkeye in the original Marvel Zombies, they were both simply severed heads that somehow still could function; another example would be Captain America who survived for over forty years as a brain on the ground until being put inside the body of Black Panther’s dead son. Although a cure is eventually found, the nature of Marvel is such that this can conveniently be forgotten for the sake of further episodes.

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The adult nature (that’s is to say, gratuitous gut-munching and gizzard-wrestling) of the comics and the sprawling Universe, already created for the to wander around and the complicated relationships built up over decades, made it a huge success and future spin-offs appeared;

  • Spider-ham, already a porcine riff on Spiderman

  • Exiles, a multi-Wolverine all-in fight

  • Marvel Zombies Halloween/A Christmas Carol

* Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons, & Various Monstrosities

Perhaps the most recurring idea is for a film version of the comics. Though extremely competent fan-made movies have appeared online, Marvel itself are adamant that such a spectacle should not appear, for fear that many of their beloved characters would have children running out of cinemas in terror.

Daz Lawrence, MOVIES & MANIA

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