|Publication date||December 2005 – April 2006|
|No. of issues||5|
|Main character(s)||Zombie versions of Marvel Comics characters|
|Written by||Robert Kirkman|
|Marvel Zombies||ISBN 0-7851-2277-X|
Marvel Zombies is a five-issue limited series published from December 2005 to April 2006 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Robert Kirkman with art by Sean Phillips and covers by Arthur Suydam. It was the first series in the Marvel Zombies series of related stories. The story is set in an alternate universe where the world's superhero population has been infected with a virus which turned them into zombies. 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 only for the latter to contain the former from ever coming to his universe.
Within the Marvel Multiverse is an alternate Earth designated Earth-2149, which contains alternate zombie versions of Marvel superheroes. The story begins as an unknown superhero from another dimension, brought by the "Hunger", crash lands before infecting the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four and almost all other superheroes. The infection spreads by contact with the blood of the victim, usually through a bite by an infected individual. The zombie super heroes largely retain their intellect, personality and their super powers, although they are consistently driven by the "Hunger" for human flesh. As the story begins, the Marvel Zombies have already devoured all non-transhuman human life on Earth and are now without food (as prefigured in Marvel Zombies: Dead Days, a later tie-in).
The series begins where the Crossover story-arc ended, with Magneto destroying the cross-dimensional transporter after the Ultimate Fantastic Four and survivors escaped back to the Ultimate universe. After a battle with the zombies, Magneto learns that the Acolytes and Forge are still alive on Asteroid M. However, before he can reach them, he is attacked once again, killed and eaten by the zombies, though he manages to behead the zombified Hawkeye. The Silver Surfer arrives on Earth and informs the zombies that his master Galactus is en route to devour the planet. The zombies attack the Silver Surfer, who is overpowered and devoured by several of the former heroes: Colonel America, Iron Man, Giant-Man, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, the Hulk, and Wolverine. After acquiring a portion of the Power Cosmic, they slaughter most of the remaining zombies, intent on satiating their hunger.
The Acolytes return to Earth to find Magneto, but instead discover a still-living Black Panther. The Panther has escaped from the lab of the zombie Giant-Man, who has been keeping him alive as a food source. As a result of several feedings, the Panther is now missing an arm and a foot. As well as the Panther, zombie Wasp got into another argument with her husband when she discovered that Giant-Man was hoarding the Black Panther for food and is decapitated, although her head remains sentient. After observing the Wasp's head begging for flesh, he reasons that the hunger is more psychological than physical.
Meanwhile, the zombies have decided that the flesh of other zombies just isn't satisfying. Galactus then arrives on Earth and is attacked by the zombies, but he repels them easily. Giant-Man, Iron Man and Bruce Banner create a device that amplifies the powers they gained from the Silver Surfer, and together with Colonel America, Luke Cage, Spider-Man and Wolverine they are able to injure Galactus. The cosmic-powered zombies fight off zombified versions of several supervillains, although Colonel America is killed by the Red Skull, and then proceed to devour Galactus. Giant-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Man and Wolverine are then infused with Galactus' power cosmic, becoming the collective Galacti.
Five years later, Black Panther, the Acolytes, and the Wasp, restored with a cybernetic body, return to Earth and find the planet empty. Unknown to them, the Zombie Galacti have taken their hunger to the stars.
In the final scenes, an intelligent alien race on a distant planet is fearful of the coming of Galactus, as they can see the signs of his imminent arrival in the night sky. To their horror, the Zombie Galacti land on their world instead of Galactus and immediately begin to consume the populace.
An intercompany crossover between Marvel and Dynamite Entertainment, published from May to September 2007 provided information as to the source of the zombie infection in the five-part limited series titled Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness (Marvel) and Army of Darkness (Dynamite). In July of the same year, a one-shot graphic novel, Marvel Zombies: Dead Days provided more story details, and the zombies also appear in a three-part storyline in Black Panther (vol. 4) #28 – 30, although they make their appearance in the last page of #27 first, and encounter the Earth-616 Fantastic Four.
A sequel to the original series, the five-issue Marvel Zombies 2, was published from October 2007 to February 2008, and Marvel Zombies 3 a four-issue series, commenced October 2008. Marvel Zombies 4 is a four-issue limited series published over the summer of 2009, and features characters from Marvel's horror comics (Man-Thing, Morbius the Living Vampire, Werewolf by Night, and Mephisto among others). Marvel Zombies 5 is a five-issue direct sequel to Marvel Zombies 4, published in June and ending in October of 2010. Marvel Zombies Return is a five-issue miniseries begun in September 2009, and is a direct sequel to Marvel Zombies 2 that wraps up the original zombie plotline. Several other sequels and spin-offs have been produced.
In 2006, the October issue of Wizard magazine featured a one-page Marvel Zombies comic by artist Sean Phillips called "Eat the Neighbors". It parodied Hostess pastry advertisements featured in the Marvel titles in the 1970s, which showcased Marvel superheroes defeating villains by offering them snacks. In this instance, Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man serve two children as "Hostees Meat Pies" after the children mistake them for legitimate superheroes.
Another humorous one-shot comic book was also published in 2007 featuring the alternate universe animal hero Spider-Ham and titled Ultimate Civil War: Spider-Ham. Spider-Ham accidentally crosses over into Earth-2149 and becomes, as J. Michael Straczynski puts it, "Undead Ham".
Secret Wars (2015)
The Marvel Zombies universe was featured in the 2015 Secret Wars storyline where it also had its own tie-in miniseries,Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies. The Battleworld domain of the Marvel Zombies is called the Deadlands where it, Ultron's domain, Perfection, and Annihilation's realm, New Xandar, all are separated from the other Battleworld domains by a wall called SHIELD, which is mostly made from Ben Grimm. The zombies and Ultron's drones spent several years battling until they formed an 'alliance'. They start by targeting the Deadland resistance, led by surviving heroes the Vision, Wonder Man, and Jim Hammond, who gather those exiled beyond the Wall into a secure city they have established. At the time of the attack, the three heroes have managed to rescue a version of Hank Pym exiled from a Wild-West-era zone, who is able to use his counterpart's notes to devise a means of shutting down the hive mind of Ultron's drones despite his more primitive background, at the cost of sacrificing the Vision and Wonder Man to make the machine work (although Wonder Man's android lover is reconfigured so that she can die in Hammond's place).
During the core Secret Wars miniseries, Black Panther uses the zombies as an army to attack the now-all-powerful Doctor Doom in the final stand, using his new 'King of the Dead' status and the Siege Perilous to take the Zombies directly to Doom's castle, although even this number is merely a distraction to keep Doom occupied while Reed Richards targets Doom's power source.
There are several trade paperbacks collecting the various stories:
- Marvel Zombies (collects Marvel Zombies #1–5, hardcover, 136 pages, August 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2277-X)
- Marvel Zombies (collects Marvel Zombies #1–5, softcover, 136 pages, October 2007, ISBN 978-0-7851-2014-8)
- Marvel Zomnibus (includes Marvel Zombies #1–5, 1200 pages, October 2012, ISBN 0-7851-4026-3)
Other related collections include:
- Marvel Zombies: The Covers (by Arthur Suydam, hardcover, 104 pages, November 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2908-1)
Wizkids' HeroClix has had appearances of zombie versions of Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Wolverine as Chase figures in the "Supernova" set. In the "Mutations and Monsters" set, there was an Iron Man, Giant-Man, Spider-Man, and a Galactus-Powered Wolverine. There was also a Janet Pym bystander token in the "Mutations and Monsters" set. More recently HeroClix released a Zombie Villains series of figures. These included Deadpool, Kingpin, Rhino, Green Goblin, Electro, Doctor Octopus, Venom, Sabretooth, and Juggernaut from the "Deadpool" set. Additionally, a generic Skrull, Super-Skrull, Mole Man, Morbius, Gladiator, Red Skull, Magneto, Doctor Doom, and a Zombies Team Base were released in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" set. The "Wizkids Marvel" set contains a zombie Galactus colossal figure, which does not have the same Z-Virus keyword as the rest of the Marvel Zombie characters. These newer Z-Virus figures are all of rare 'Chase' or 'Convention Exclusive' with the exception of Headpool who is also the only figure who does not fit on the Zombies Team Base.
In the Vs. System trading card game, the Marvel Zombies have three cards in the tournament Promo set Age of Apocalypse. If a player won the tournament where they came from, he or she would get a copy of Spider-Man as a Zombie. If a player comes in second place, he or she would get a card of Captain America. All participants got a copy of the Marvel Zombies card. The zombies in the game had a unique theme of destroying themselves to activate an effect. At the end of the turn, they would return to play.
In other media
- The Marvel Zombies series will be loosely adapted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Disney+ series Marvel's What If...?.
- Newsarama.com: JMS ON SPIDER-HAM Archived 2007-03-02 at the Wayback Machine
- Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #2
- Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies #5
- Secret Wars #8
- Secret Wars #9
- Marvel Zombies Minimates Boxed Set Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
- Diamond Select turns Marvel Zombies into action figures Archived 2009-02-06 at the Wayback Machine, Newsarama, February 9, 2007
- DST Brings Captain America Back from the Grave Archived 2011-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
- Official website
- Marvel Zombies full cover gallery
- Marvel Zombies at the Grand Comics Database
- Marvel Zombies at the Comic Book DB
- Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons & Various Monstrosities at the Comic Book DB
- Marvel Spotlight: Marvel Zombies at the Comic Book DB
- Talking Marvel Zombies With Robert Kirkman, Newsarama, October 3, 2005
- Marvel Zombies on Marvel Database, a Marvel Comics wiki