In Part I of DEAD MAN'S PARTY, CBR News spoke with editor John Barber about the origins and history of Marvel Comics' latest publishing phenomenon, "Marvel Zombies." Today, in Part II, we get the inside scoop on the highly anticipated sequel, the five-issue miniseries, "Marvel Zombies 2," from writer Robert Kirkman himself.
When Kirkman began penning the original "Marvel Zombies" series, he was just writing something he thought would be fun and had no idea as to how popular the book would become. The writer believes the project's popularity stems from its unique niche in Marvel's catalog. "It's something that I don't think anyone has ever really been able to get from a Marvel comic," Robert Kirkman told CBR News. "It's got a bit of comedy of in it but you don't really see a Marvel Comics that has gone to the limits that 'Marvel Zombies' has gone to. You don't see a lot of gore or very twisted unusual things in other books. I've got to think it's the uniqueness of it all."
All the elements that made the original series so appealing to readers will be present and in greater abundance in "Marvel Zombies 2." The first issue hits stores on October 17 and picks up 40 years after the original series. "At the end of 'Marvel Zombies,' a civilization was formed, a very small pocket of human life, and they're living on Earth and they've been kind of procreating and keeping the human race alive," explained Kirkman. "They've been living okay. That's why we skipped ahead 40 years, but things are starting to get crappy for them so of course it's time to pick up the story."
Humans have been able to prosper and thrive because at the end of the first series, the Marvel Zombies left Earth on a mission to seek out new life… and eat it. "They've been out in the cosmos and they've kind of run out of stuff to eat," Kirkman said. "So they're coming back to the well, much like we are. They're going back to Earth and they're going to cause some trouble there."
The surviving Marvel Zombies won't be returning to Earth alone. "They've been in space for about 40 years, so there's going to be some characters they've run into along the way and they've kind of joined the Marvel Zombies group," Kirkman said. "I'm very proud of Firelord, he'll be making his first appearance in 'Marvel Zombies 2' #1. We've also brought in Thanos and a couple of other characters that I'll leave as surprises."
The Marvel Zombies' trip home is chance for them to slake their ghoulish appetites, but this time there's bound to be some discord at the dinner table. "It's zombies versus humans than zombies versus zombies," Kirkman stated. "So there's some dissent among the ranks of the Marvel Zombies because some of them still kind of hate what they are and what they do. They come back to Earth not because they think there are still people living on it but for another reason. When they get there and see there are still people alive, some of the zombies want to eat them and some of them are kind of glad people have survived and start to regret what they've been doing.
"The thing about the Marvel Zombies is they're the very same heroes they've always been," Kirkman continued. "Their personalities are still intact. It's just they're controlled by this incredible hunger, which makes them do things they don't want to do. Some have kind of embraced that and have changed over the 40 years and some are very much their heroic selves. These two groups are going to be at odds in the series."
Earth's surviving populace includes a variety of characters, all of whom find themselves smack dab middle of the Marvel Zombies' Civil War. "Over the 40 years, Black Panther has formed kind of a family. His grandson is going to be a pretty important character," Kirkman said. "The other Acolytes that were mentioned and shown in the first series are part of this series. There's going to be people like Wasp and Hawkeye who have already been working with the humans because they were left on Earth. It will all make sense when you see it."
Like the first series, the tone of "Marvel Zombies 2" is a mélange of grisly horror and ghastly humor. "There's going to be a lot of dark, depressing stuff and very twisted, crude things going on," Kirkman remarked. "I like to say it will be disturbing series for normal people and it will be a funny series for disturbed people."
Kirkman couldn't be happier with way artist Sean Phillips is bringing to life the macabre and mirthful action of "Marvel Zombies 2." "Sean is doing the work of his career," declared Kirkman. "I don't know if a lot of people checked out 'Dead Days' but I thought that stuff was spectacular and the work he's doing on this series is great. I mean, 'Criminal' that's an alright book but we all know where Sean Phillips' heart is [laughs]."
Kirkman and his fellow creators are grateful for the strong fan following that "Marvel Zombies" has developed and they promise any further stories set in the Zombieverse will only be ones that happen organically. "I've been informed that 'Marvel Zombies 2' is the last Marvel Zombies thing you'll see for awhile," he confirmed. "If 'Marvel Zombies 2' is a success there will probably be another sequel but as far as tie-ins, guest appearances, crossovers and all the other stuff, I believe it's been put on hold for awhile. It gives people a little room to breathe before with hit them with more.
"I'm not completely finished writing 'Marvel Zombies 2' and I've already had a couple of ideas about where things could go after this," Kirkman continued. "But if a good story doesn't materialize I'm not going to do 'Marvel Zombies 3' just for the sake of doing it."
The Dead Man's Party continues tomorrow, when CBR News picks Sean Phillips' brain about his work on "Marvel Zombies 2."
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