Welcome to the five hundred and sixty-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven't been able to update it in a while). This week, was Luke Cage as the last man on Earth originally going to be the star of Marvel Zombies? Who was "Barry Allen" going to be revealed as during the original version of "The Return of Barry Allen"? Finally, is the Justice League cartoon adaptation of "For the Man Who Had Everything" really the only adaptation of his work that Alan Moore liked?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There's a little "next" button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Luke Cage as the last man on Earth was going to be the star of the original Marvel Zombies until Robert Kirkman saw that Cage was already a zombie in the Ultimate Fantastic Four story arc introducing the Marvel Zombies.
In the Ultimate Fantastic Four #21, Mark Millar, Greg Land and Matt Ryan did "Crossover," where it appears as though the Ultimate Reed Richards has connected with the Reed Richards from the main Marvel Universe. However, instead we learn that Reed has been tricked by ZOMBIE Reed Richards!
Marvel liked the idea so much that AS Millar was writing the issues, they sought out pitches for a mini-series spinning the Marvel Zombies out into their own series.
Robert Kirkman was the writer for the series (with Sean Phillips as the artist) and they ended up having the zombies themselves star in the book, with Luke Cage being a prominent member of the small group of zombified Marvel heroes who star in the book...
However, initially, Kirkman's idea for the series would be that it starred the HUMAN Luke Cage!
He told Marvel Spotlight back in 2007:
It took a look time for it to even occur to me that the book could be about the zombies. So there was a long time where I was pitching stuff that was...not that good I guess? It was standard zombie stuff like "Luke Cage Against the World." A lot of people online complained, "Luke Cage can't be a zombie! He has unbreakable skin! And I agree with that, but when I was working Marvel Zombies pitches, Mark Millar's Ulimate Fantastic Four scripts would say, "Human Torch is being chased by the Marvel Zombies" or whatever. He would pick out certain characters for certain things, but for the most part when he mentioned the zombies it would be as a pack; "the Marvel Zombies do this, the Marvel Zombies do that." And so without seeing the art, I didn't know who was a zombie and who wasn't. So then we discovered Greg Land drawing Luke Cage pretty prominently and that killed that idea.
Cage does show up early in Ultimate Fantastic Four #22...
I just love that sort of, "D'oh!" feeling that comes with having the character you intend to use show up already a zombie.
As Kirkman later noted to Marvel Spotlight, it wasn't like Marvel loved the idea anyways, so maybe it wouldn't have mattered.
Thanks to Robert Kirkman and Marvel Spotlight for the information!
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