By Craig Tello
It's sure to be a Happy Halloween this October when Marvel Comics presents MARVEL ZOMBIES 3, the third installation of its acclaimed series that fans have eaten up almost as ravenously as the book's flesh-gorging characters chew their live meals.
The four-issue miniseries returns from the dead later this year, but Marvel.com got a head start on the splendidly inhuman horror that awaits the Marvel Universe, getting the undead dish from MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 writer Fred Van Lente.
"This is a balls-to-the-wall, high-octane, action- and gore-packed, and – I hope – scary horror comic book," explains Van Lente. "At the same time, [it retains] that edge and humor that made what Robert [Kirkman] and Sean [Phillips] did so awesome and memorable."
According to Van Lente, in this new mini-series, we're well past the days of New Wakanda and onto a "very specific plane in Marvel Zombies continuity" – a place and time that the MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 scribe is keeping between him and his horde of horrific heroes.
He does divulge, however, the birth of a new government agency similar to S.H.I.E.L.D. known as Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response (A.R.M.O.R.), formed by human forces to end the living dead epidemic on zombie turf.
Commence dining of raw human flesh.
"[MARVEL ZOMBIES 3] is an in-continuity series in which the shambling hordes of undead invade our own beloved Marvel U," he says, "requiring a desperate mission into the Zombieverse by an unlikely combo of heroes to save 616 from being overrun by the cannibal plague."
Van Lente continues, "With the entire Marvel Universe on the menu for our flesh-eating friends, a small enclave of humanity may be, at best, dessert!"
None can argue that the Marvel Zombies have chewed their way into the hearts of their prey and, more importantly, comic fans. Those with an appreciation for dark humor have celebrated the rise of their favorite characters – from Wolverine to The Hulk – in a most macabre mode.
That said, exactly which Marvel faces will we see decayed, strewn with maggots and accented by skull-protrusion this time around? What freshly zombie-fied characters will appear in the new series?
"We will definitely be seeing a lot of Marvel Zombies we haven't focused on before, both villains and heroes," Van Lente carefully reveals. "I choose to be coy about which ones. With horror, the more unknowns the better."
"However, I will say that in issue #1, we give the phrase, 'Merc with a Mouth' a whole new meaning," he adds, citing a "deep, evil laugh."
In addition to such sinister snippets of information, Van Lente explains the muse behind the latest addition to the House of Ideas' living dead lore, which began back in late 2005 with MARVEL ZOMBIES and unearthed itself again in fall 2007 with the sequel.
"MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 is to its predecessors what 'Aliens' is to the original 'Alien,'" he declares. "We're taking the same concepts, characters and continuity and doing something different with them."
These foul, cadaverous versions of Marvel's mightiest first surfaced in ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #21. Three years later, like many a horror film franchise, the body count continues this Halloween as a low-calorie, high protein treat, with likely just a few tricks along the way. And, Van Lente hopes that, much like Marvel's flesh-craving corpses, you bring your appetite.
"There's a kind of punk rock thrill to [seeing] these costumed bastions of justice and fair play eat each other's intestines," he says, "and love every minute of it."
Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more info on MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 and other upcoming comic series, as first announced at Wizard World Philadelphia.