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By Jim Beard
Good thing the Marvel Universe can claim the greatest roster of maleficent monsters in comics, because it's about to be overrun by zombies—and sometimes it takes monsters to fight monsters.
On April 8, writer Fred Van Lente and artist Kev Walker unleash MARVEL ZOMBIES 4 #1
on an unsuspecting populace and gather together a unique cadre of creatures to stem the tide of shambling undead.
"MARVEL ZOMBIES 4 picks up right after MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 leaves off," says Van Lente. "Mystery Undead have escaped from the Hollow, the secret underground headquarters of the interdimensional defense agency A.R.M.O.R., and Morbius has hastily gathered together a squad of fellow monsters to track them down. At least one of the fugitives will be a fan favorite from MARVEL ZOMBIES 3, whose fan favorite [status] caught me somewhat by surprise. But never let it be said Fred Van Lente does not bend to the winds of popularity—this character has a greatly expanded role in MZ4 and is one of the highlights of the series."
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Morbius' new roll call for the his anti-zombie Midnight Sons team reads like a who's who of Marvel horror stars: Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Son of Satan and sorceress Jennifer Kale.
"I chose characters I really wanted to write about," Van Lente shares. "Morbius, the witch Jennifer Kale, and Man-Thing all return from MARVEL ZOMBIES 3, although they take center stage here. One of the first books I ever remember owning as a kid was a photo book of the Lon Chaney 'Wolf Man,' so it was a no-brainer to have Werewolf by Night here. Son of Satan was actually a second choice after my first one was unavailable, but I really love writing Daimon Hellstrom.
"I also liked the 'Midnight Sons' name. It's catchier than the 'Steve Gerber Horror All-Stars,' which would be more accurate..."
The writer refers to the late, great Steve Gerber who cemented his fame in the Marvel firmament by writing many of the well-remembered horror stories and characters of the 1970's. MARVEL ZOMBIES 4 marks the very first time that many of these monster greats find themselves working alongside and interacting with each other.
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"They've been thrown together under a common purpose without knowing a whole lot about each other," notes Van Lente of the new Midnight Sons. "Morbius and Jennifer both feel like they have something to prove since they both nearly bought it at the hands of the undead from MZ3. Jack Russell, the Werewolf, we learn, has grown accustomed to his curse and has a devil-may-care attitude that borders on the self-destructive and suicidal. And in speaking of 'devil,' Hellstrom's demonic nature seems to be reveling in the carnage of eviscerating zombies—and that freaks all the other Sons out quite a bit."
As in the previous installment, readers can expect all the intense, graphic zombie action they've grown to love in MARVEL ZOMBIES 4. Van Lente gives his solemn word on that score.
"One of the nice things, from a horror perspective, about the Zombies series is we have a nice, high, adult rating, so we can really let loose and be as gory as any undead or slasher movie," he says. "It's fun to write these classic Marvel monsters with R-rated gore they deserve, within
the Marvel Universe."
And as the fans move forward into the new series, Van Lente offers this reminder of a seed sown in MARVEL ZOMBIES 3:
"The Merc with Only a Mouth is back!"
MARVEL ZOMBIES 4 #1 shambles into stores with style on April 8. Check out the original MARVEL ZOMBIES on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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