Marvel Zombies

Marvel Zombies: Machine or Man?

Writer Fred Van Lente explains why it takes a Machine Man to get the job done when it comes to killing zombies

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By Jim Beard You just can't keep a good zombie down—or a hungry one for that matter. The infamous Marvel Zombieverse creeps onward in MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 and this time it's the real Marvel Universe that's threatened. Writer Fred Van Lente's at the helm for this latest chapter, alongside artist Kev Walker, and the upcoming MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 #3, out December 3, asks this pressing question: "When flesh and blood fail, who ya gonna call?" Answer: Robots! A.R.M.O.R.—that's the Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response Agency—has decided it's too dangerous for

Preview art by
Kev Walker

humans to cross over into the Zombieverse so they sent the next best thing: synthetic humanoids; specifically, the famous Machine Man and the beauteous but cold Jocasta. "Machine Man blows away a truly awe-inspiring number of zombies," explains Van Lente. "But does it even matter since Zombie Morbius has already infiltrated A.R.M.O.R.?" As you might've guessed, it's a series where literally anything can happen and, well, anyone familiar can be a zombie. Fortunately, there's Aaron Stack aka Machine Man in our corner—or is he? "He has a love/hate relationship with humanity," Van Lente says of Aaron. "He was designed to be as human as a robot can be, and yet they've persecuted him his entire life. So, subconsciously, gunning down—and chainsawing, and flaming, and rotary sawing, and, well, you get the idea—mowing down all these zombies is as close as he can get to venting his frustrations against humanity as his own often-denied, but ever-present conscience will allow him to get. "I think Aaron's great problem is that he would like to be an unfeeling robot, or at best a highly cynical one. But that's just not him. He is a hero at heart, and he can't not help people in need when they're in front of him any more than birds can't fly."

Preview art by
Kev Walker

The creation of the legendary Jack Kirby, Machine Man's circuits first actuated in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY #8, in 1975. Originally designated "X-51," the sophisticated robot gained free will and eventually took on the name of the scientist who built him, Dr. Aaron Stack. He's wandered from adventure to adventure ever since, seeking his place in the world at large. "I remember reading some of the old Steve Ditko issues on [MACHINE MAN] back when I was kid in the late 70's," notes Van Lente. "When I went to [Wizard World Philadelphia] for the announcement [of MARVEL ZOMBIES 3] I spent quite some time thumbing through longboxes on dealers' table until I amassed a complete run of Kirby's work on the title. "The original story arc in MACHINE MAN #1-6, in which Machine Man has to decide whether or not to defend Earth from an invading wave of mechanized aliens, is really some of [Kirby's] best work for Marvel in his second go-around, right up there with ETERNALS. Here's hoping MARVEL ZOMBIES 3's success leads to that being reprinted because it doesn't get the praise it deserves."

Preview art by
Kev Walker

As mentioned previously, Aaron's not alone on his secretive sojourn across realities to the Zombieverse. At his side strides Jocasta, a gleaming example of robotic femininity and a fully capable one to boot. Alas, you can cut the tension between them with an electric knife. "Aaron has desperately loved Jocasta since they first met in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #93," Van Lente reminds. "I'm not sure that will ever change—but his current wiseass personality certainly rubs her the wrong way." Rather than dwell on the immense pressure of taking on a popular saga such as Marvel Zombies, Van Lente has chosen to concentrate on the positives—namely a little help from his friends. "Fortunately I have Kev Walker helping me out on the art," says the writer. "If I had to do it all by my lonesome it would be a bunch of stick figures eating each other and no one would have any idea what was going on." If action, adventure, zombie versions of your favorite Marvel characters, and lots and lots of eating appeals to you then MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 might just be the greatest limited series you'll ever digest. You've only to wait until December 3 for another helping. And to read the original MARVEL ZOMBIES, head over to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. Check out the official Marvel Shop for the best mighty Marvel merchandise!

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