Marvel Zombies 4 #1
In April, Marvel’s supernatural forces are clamoring to a fevered pitch as the remaining zombies from Marvel Zombies 3
run amuck in the mainstream Marvel universe—and it seems some pretty
heavy baddies want to get in on this infectious zombie action…including
The Hood. Luckily, the forces of good aren’t taking either of these
threats lightly—as some of Marvel’s most nefarious supernatural
characters come together to re-form the Midnight Sons. Marvel Zombies 4 reunites the team of Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker for another spine-chilling chapter in the Marvel Zombies storyline.
Fans of Marvel’s supernatural characters will remember the original
incarnation of the Midnight Sons from the early to-mid 90’s; ushered in
by the successful re-launch of Ghost Rider,
the Midnight Sons line spawned several popular titles—including one
featuring a central character in the Marvel Zombies storyline: Michael
Morbius, the Living Vampire.
Newsarama contacted Marvel Zombies 4 writer, Fred Van Lente, to discuss the ongoing fight with the undead and the new day that’s dawning for the Midnight Sons.
Newsarama: Marvel Zombies 4 is hot on the tail of third installment in the series of books. For readers who aren't familiar with Marvel Zombies 3--give us a little set-up for the beginning of this new Marvel Zombies storyline.
Fred Van Lente: In Marvel Zombies 3, the undead
superhumans invade our own beloved Marvel U. Not to give away the
ending of that book, but, since Marvel is still publishing, it's safe
to assume the Marvel Universe was not utterly destroyed.
However, we learned at the end of MZ3 that some of the super-zombies escaped, and in the opening to MZ4
we see who those shamblers are, and who ex-Spider-Man
villain-turned-bloodsucking-hero Morbius the Living Vampire has
gathered together to track them down before they infect the rest of the
But there could be others after the escapees as well, for their own nefarious purposes...
NRAMA: Kev Walker is returning to the fourth installment of
Marvel Zombies, correct? How did the two of you find out you'd be
reunited for another installment of the story?
FVL: The best way possible—Marvel Zombies 3 #1 sold out
the day it came out, or by the end of that week, and we got the word
that Marvel wanted us to immediately start thinking sequel.
NRAMA: Michael Morbius, the Living Vampire, is playing a central
role in this new story—who will he be aligning himself with to track
down the renegade zombies running through the Marvel Universe?
Marvel Zombies 4 #2
FVL: He's gathered together fellow MZ3 co-star Jennifer
Kale, the witch from the "Man-Thing" series, as well as Jack Russell,
Werewolf-by-Night, and Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan. Man-Thing is
kind of a "reserve member" through his psychic connection with Jen, and
fear not, Kev and I have some other surprise characters waiting in
Of course, Morbius is a formidable opponent for the zombies in his own
right. As a biochemist, he's figured out more about what the exact
nature of the "Marvel Zombies" pathogen is moreso than we've ever seen
before, and he's developed some unique countermeasures against it as a
NRAMA: What sort of research did you do when you were picking
your supporting cast? Did any of your own sensibilities as a fan affect
FVL: I read all the 1970's Horror essentials—Horror Vol. 1, which is all Son and Daughter of Satan, along with the Man Thing and Werewolf by Night
volumes. I went through a big Steve Gerber kick as a teenager, bought
most of his seventies stuff in back issue, so I was already very
familiar with Jennifer Kale and the Man-Thing. I also got the "Midnight
Sons" Morbius and Warren Ellis run on Hellstorm. So... I read a loooot of comics. But that's okay. They were tax-deductible.
NRAMA: Were there any characters you couldn't get your hands on this time around?
FVL: Yeah, Hellstrom actually wasn't my first choice. He
replaced a guy I really wanted, one of my all-time off-beat faves, but
Mr. Bendis has control of that particular person at present. But I'm
hoping I can work with that character sooner rather than later.
NRAMA: Two of the supporting characters in Marvel Zombies 4—Jack
Russell, Werewolf By Night, Hellstorm, the Son of Satan, have both been
in the spotlight recently. How are you taking these two popular horror
characters forward? What sorts of personal touches did you want to add
to the mythos of these characters?
FVL: Jack Russell has grown to accept his lycanthropic
curse—although Morbius fears that just means he no longer cares if he
lives or dies. Regardless, his nihilistic hedonism makes him the bon
vivant of the team.
Hellstrom is a character that has had almost as many guises as the
devil himself, and, to be honest, I'm not a fan of any of them.
However, when I was reading his origin Marvel Essential Horror Vol. 1,
it mentioned he actually had gone to seminary to study to be a priest.
Even though he left before he was ordained, I thought it would be cool
to stick him in a Jesuit-style cassock, with the pentragram on his
chest burning through. Kev took that description and really knocked it
out of the park, I think.
NRAMA: The Hood is going to be appearing in Marvel Zombies 4; how does his revealed involvement with Dormmamu play a part in your story? Is he bringing friends along with him?
FVL: Dormammu, keeping with our horror theme, is a huge part of MZ4.
And we learn that among the plethora of super villains The Hood has at
his beck and cool are a horror themed bunch from way back known as the
Night Shift. They might really give our monster heroes a run for their
NRAMA: Any other surprise appearances readers should be aware of?
FVL: If they were aware of them, they wouldn't be surprises, now would they...?
NRAMA: Fair enough. Do you have a particular fondness for
atmospheric horror stories? Is there a genre you haven't explored that
you'd like to give a try?
FVL: I really do. My favorite genres are espionage, horror,
super heroes… I guess I like my fantasy firmly planted in the world I
see around me every day. I've been lucky that in my Marvel career I've
been able to try out a plethora of genres, from Westerns to Greek
mythology to post-apocalypse to spy stories to noir mystery.
I guess I've never tried my hand at the really cosmic science fiction
stuff, but since Zombies Undeaditor Bill Rosemann is also Mr. Cosmic, I
know who to grovel to.
NRAMA: Switching gears a little, what books are you reading currently?
FVL: You've kind of caught me in between books at the moment. I
only seem to read stuff that applies to stuff I'm currently writing.
I'm reading for the first time the entire Romita Sr./Gil Kane run of Amazing Spider-Man for an upcoming Spidey project with Bill, that's a real treat.
Also, I'm enjoying Great British Comics by Paul Gravett, a survey for the upcoming "British Invasion" issue of my comics-history series, Comic Book Comics.
Oh, and Ryan and I are also gearing up to bring out the big-ass mama-jama More-Than-Complete Action Philosophers TPB collection in time for Christmas this year, and that will include ALL NEW STORIES! To that end, I'm preparing to crack open a biography of the American philosopher William James, Gentle Reality by Linda Simon.
NRAMA: Finally Fred – it’s been heroes and villains, and now, this time around its zombies versus demons and monsters...what next?
FVL: Hmmm. Clowns?