Marvel Zombies #4

Issue Date: 
May 2006
Story Title: 

Robert Kirkman (writer), Sean Phillips (pencils), June Chung (colors), VC’s Randy Gentile (letters), Deborah Weinstein (production), Nicole Wiley Boose & John Barber (assistant editors), Ralph Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
SPECIAL THANKS TO: Arthur Suydam & Jack Kirby (cover)

Brief Description: 

Galactus becomes angry at the meddling Infected and starts attacking them. They all dodge the attacks, and begin to fight back with the new cosmic powers they absorbed from the Silver Surfer. However, Galactus still has more firepower than they have and the Infected have no other choice but to retreat. Afterwards, Hank decides to spill his secret, and takes everyone to his lab. During the trip, the Hulk reverts back to Bruce Banner, which Hank thinks is great, because they’ll need his intelligence to make a defense plan. When they arrive at the lab, Hank is startled when he realizes that the Black Panther has escaped. However, he keeps this for himself, and lies that he had to kill his wife and that only she was there. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, the Black Panther fights the Acolytes, as they believe it’s a trick and T’Challa is actually one of the Infected. Cortez calms everyone down and becomes the voice of reason, wanting to give T’Challa the benefit of the doubt and take him back to their headquarters on Asteroid M. Burns disagrees and, during the confusion, he gets eaten by the remains of the Wasp. T’Challa stops her, but not in time, and Burns dies. T-Challa wants to take her to Asteroid M as well, because he still sees Janet as his friend, despite her current decision. In return, he shall join the Acolytes and help out where he can. Cortez agrees, despite the disapproval of most of the other Acolytes. A few days pass, and Colonel America has traveled to Wakanda to find Vibranium plates Hank needed to build his amplifier, which shall be their weapon against Galactus. On Asteroid M, the local science guy, Reynolds, is impressed by Janet’s head and wants to study upon her, believing he might even find a cure! The Panther receives a tour around the asteroid and Cortez wants him to meet all of the other twelve people onboard. T’Challa is introduced to Forge, who decides to give the Panther some cybernetic implants like his own so he can move around more easily. Back on Earth, the Infected villains have gathered together and actually manage to wound Galactus. The Infected heroes arrive on the battlefield as well, and use their cosmic powers to launch Hank’s amplifier and fire it upon Galactus.

Full Summary: 

Galactus angrily lashes out at the Infected, and angrily shouts that they aren’t the only ones who hunger. Luke worries about how they are going to defeat the planet devourer, as he panics when just looking at his humongous size. Spider-Man, dodging all of Galactus’ blasts, agrees with Cage. He realizes that they don’t have a clue about how to tackle Galactus, especially now that Reed and the other members of the Fantastic Four are trapped in the other dimension. Wolverine, holding his claws ready for action, doesn’t care about what Spidey is going to do, but he won’t leave until he gets a bite out of Galactus. Hank agrees, and is confident that they’ll find a way to defeat the alien, believing that his huge size is what should make them want to defeat him. After all, the bigger they are, the more flesh they get to eat!

Hank reminds everyone of the cosmic powers they now have and decides it’s time to use them. All of the surviving Infected attack Galactus, and Hank orders them not to give up until Galactus is down. Galactus defends himself, though, blocking the rays with just his fist. He does admire the resistance, as it rarely happens on the planets he consumes. However, he is confident the resistance won’t do much, as it will all soon come to an end. Hank believes Galactus is merely bluffing and orders everyone not to give up. Colonel America isn’t so sure about that, noticing they aren’t hurting Galactus one bit. While he is fighting, Luke is hit by one of Galactus’ arms, and his arm gets ripped off!

Both Spider-Man and Iron have had enough of the battle and want to retreat. Hank agrees, and orders everyone to fall back. Hulk refuses, as he wants to eat some meat first. Hank wants that too, as that’s what they do now. However, he think it’s better to make a strategy first before going in wild again. Hulk understands and retreats with the others.

The former heroes make it to an alley, and it doesn’t look like Galactus is following them. Colonel America thinks that’s only logical, as the guy came here to devour the entire planet and not just them. Hank thinks it’s best to retreat to his lab. Hulk is surprised that Hank still has the lab, as he hasn’t seen him in it since the hunger took over. Hank admits that he kept it a secret until now, but claims he needs something from there first or else he won’t make it. He leads the Infected towards his lab, telling them they’ll understand what he means once they get there.

As they move, Hulk suddenly stops walking and reverts to Bruce Banner again. Hank notices this and asks Banner what’s wrong. Banner explains that the adrenaline from the fight has worn off. He doesn’t even remember if they ate or not. He imagines once he becomes hungry again he’ll revert back to the Hulk. Until then, he’s stuck in his human form. Hank thinks that’s fine, as Banner is exactly the person he needs right now. They make it to his lab, and enter it. As they go in, Luke notices Janet’s dead body. Hank thinks that everyone agrees that desperate times call for desperate measures. He claims he can explain everything, if they just give him a second.

Hank moves towards the table T’Challa lay on, but panics when he sees he’s gone! The other Infected don’t know what’s going on, and want Hank to tell them what he was keeping a secret. Hank claims it was Janet’s fate, and that he had to kill her because she attacked him.

Elsewhere in the city…
Cortez is startled to discover that the Black Panther isn’t Infected. T’Challa confirms that, and realizes that the current bad state of his body can be deceiving. Cortez admits that they thought nobody else survived it, and that he and the other Acolytes were the only ones left. T’Challa claims that’s, obviously, not true. Burns thinks it’s a trick, and that T’Challa is lying because he is carrying the head of the Infected Wasp. The other Acolytes agree with Burns, wanting to kill T’Challa and find Magneto and return to Asteroid M before they are found by the other Infected. Cortez warns his teammates to stand down, because they don’t know anything about T’Challa, so they can’t do anything about him yet.

Burns disagrees and wants to kill T’Challa before things can get worse. This is exactly what Janet needed to here. She pushes herself free from T’Challa’s grip, and jumps at Burns and eats him! The other Acolytes worry about Burns and want to kill T’Challa for this, and start fighting him. Despite his bad state, T’Challa is still well able to defend himself using his martial arts skills. Cortez orders everyone to stop fighting immediately. The other Acolytes want to avenge their fallen teammate, but Cortez informs his followers that Burns disobeyed his direct order, and hence paid for it with his life. T’Challa merely defended himself because the Acolytes attacked him, so he can’t be punished for that.

T’Challa promises he isn’t a threat to the Acolytes and wants to travel to Asteroid M with them, if that means the Infected can’t reach him there. He is desperate to get away from this place. Cortez promises they’ll do that, because he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he left another human being behind, knowing the inevitable. T’Challa thanks the Acolytes and promises he’ll find a way to repay them. The Acolytes protest against it, but Cortez is confident, wanting to ensure the survival of his species, and therefore can use all the help they can get.

The Acolytes realize they don’t have much of a choice and agree with it, but want to kill the Wasp first. T’Challa refuses, because Janet used to be his friend and wants her to come to Asteroid M with them He promises she won’t form a threat under his supervision. Now, even Cortez isn’t so sure about it anymore, but agrees to take Janet with them.

Days later, at Giant-Man’s lab…
Luke is getting impatient. They have been in the lab for days now and he wants to know if Hank is going to find something they can use against Galactus. Spidey suggests they let the big brains do their work so they can relax a little. He reminds Luke that Stark, Banner and Pym are all working together to find a way to stop this, and they are the smartest people on the entire planet. He’s confident they won’t let Galactus eat them.

Luke also doesn’t understand why Spider-Man still wears his mask. It’s all shredded, and it’s not like he has a secret identity anymore. Spidey defends that the hunger – the way it is- he knows he would do it again right now if he had the chance. That’s just the way things are right now. But after doing it – after he ate his aunt and wife, the only two people in the world that really loved him, after knowing what he had become – he can’t stand to look at himself in the mirror so that’s why he still wears the mask. Luke thinks Spider-Man is a sissy. Wolverine comes to inform the two that “he” is back.

Colonel America is back, and he has brought Vibranium with him. It’s fresh from Wakanda, and is probably the last mined and refined Vibranium that was ever made. The Colonel also sarcastically jokes that Wakanda has seen better days. He also couldn’t believe how fast he can fly now thanks to the absorption of the Surfer’s powers, and almost felt like he went faster than a Quinjet could ever fly. Hank believes that the Vibranium plates are perfect. He explains that between this and the crystals they took from Dr. Strange’s sanctuary, the stuff from the Baxter Building and what they stole from Castle Doom in Latveria concludes everything they need for the plan.

Banner starts feeling the pain again, and is changing forms again. Tony orders him to make it quick, because they could need the help. Bruce hates doing this. He takes out his own liver and eats it, and likes the taste! Colonel America is disgusted and wants to know when Banner started doing that. Iron Man reveals Banner started doing that right after the Colonel left to get the supplies. They got the idea after those pieces of the Surfer fell out of Tony when they first arrived at Hank’s lab. Tony explains that he has been re-eating bits since they got there. It’s doing a remarkable job of fighting off the constant hunger they all share.

Hank admits that he has been doing it as well, like most of them. Only Spider-Man and Luke haven’t done it yet, as they claim their bodies are already messed up enough. He knows this isn’t a perfect situation. This sickness they all share have made their insides so addictive that they practically dissolve everything they eat, so these pieces get a little bit smaller every time they eat them. Banner confirms that it has also prevented him from changing back into the Hulk. And it has also helped them keep their wits about so work can be done.

The Colonel wants a knife so he can try it out by himself. Giant-Man tells the Colonel not to bother doing that. They don’t have the time for it, as they need the amplifier assembled. Besides, he claims, by now the morsels in the Colonel’s body must be completely dissolved. He asks for some help to get the amplifier assembled, because he is anxious to see if it works. If they hurry, they could be over in Times Square taking Galactus down by nightfall. They are ready for some fresh meat!

Some time later…
Galactus continues to gather a machine nearby him, while all of the now Infected villains keep staring it him, but don’t do anything to stop him. Nearby, in an alley, the Infected heroes are watching and are surprised to see the villains gathered. He wonders who invited them for dinner.

Meanwhile, on Asteroid M…
After the Acolytes and the Black Panther arrive on the asteroid, Cortez claims that they were lucky this time. He believes that another expedition down to Earth would be too risky. They must assume the worst and wait for Magneto to contact them. However, Cortez also realizes that they can’t keep up the hope that he survived somehow. Reynolds welcomes his fellow Acolytes, admitting that he couldn’t really make out everything Cortez said on the communicator during the return trip. He is surprised that they didn’t found Magneto, but did found somebody else.

T’Challa says hi to Reynolds, who then introduces himself to the Panther, revealing that he is a science guy. He notices Janet’s wasp T’Challa still carries with him, and is glad to see a specimen. He can’t wait to examine her, anxious to learn more about the Infected. They could maybe even find a cure! Janet wants to eat Reynolds, causing him to get scared. T’Challa warns Reynolds that Janet will be treated with respect, as she is his friend despite her current condition.

Cortez reminds the Panther about the agreement they had and orders him to hand Janet over. He can promise that Reynolds isn’t going to hurt her, and rather is going to try and find a cure. Those are his terms, or otherwise they’ll shoot the Wasp out of an air lock. T’Challa hands Janet’s head over to Reynolds, and warns him to be careful. Cortez calls out to Hendriks, and tells her that, once the newest member of their team gets settled in and cleaned up, he would like her to give T’Challa a full tour around the Asteroid. She has to answer whatever questions the Panther might have, so he feels at home. Hendriks would be happy to.

The Panther defends that, before he is going on this tour, he would like to try and figure out a more efficient way to get around. This crutch he now has to move around, thanks to the fact he only has one leg, isn’t going to work forever. Cortez is confident they can fix something up for T’Challa, as they have vast resources aboard.

Forge arrives, thinking he can help out with that. He introduces himself to the Panther, not sure if he recognizes him or not. Forge also shows his cybernetic leg to the Panther, joking that he knows a thing or two about prosthetic limbs. T’Challa smiles and jokes that he can see that. Cortez adds that there are others aboard Asteroid M too. There are actually twelve people aboard, including them and the Panther. He’ll make sure T’Challa will be introduced to everyone.

Back on Earth…
While the Infected are assembling the amplifier, Spider-Man notices that it looks like the villains are finally starting to do some damage. It actually looks like Galactus is getting hurt… at least a little bit. Hank states that is good news, as that means Galactus can be hurt and their plan might actually work now. Tony mentions he only needs a few more adjustments and everything will be set. Luke is happy they are going to eat tonight.

Hank warns Spider-Man to come to them, as it won’t work unless they all fire their cosmic powers at the same time. They’ve only got one shot. Spider-Man goes near the Infected, who all fire their cosmic powers together… and upon Galactus!

Characters Involved: 

Galactus (unInfected planet devourer)

Burns, Cargill, Fabian Cortez, Hendriks, Reynolds (all unInfected Acolytes)
Forge (unInfected X-Man)

Black Panther (unInfected human)

Wolverine (Infected X-Man)

Colonel America, Giant-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Wasp (all Infected Avengers)

Bullseye, Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin, Juggernaut, Lizard, Mole Man, Red Skull, Rhino, Sabretooth, Stilt Man, Super-Skrull, Venom (all Infected villains)

Story Notes: 

The cover is an homage to X-Men (1st series) #1, though it now has the original X-Men replaced by their Infected versions. Jack Kirby is credited in this issue because he drew the cover for X-Men (1st series) #1.

The Infected versions of the Fantastic Four got trapped in the ultimate Marvel Universe after their failed attempt to destroy that Earth’s Fantastic Four, as seen in Ultimate Fantastic Four #23. They are currently trapped in a holding cell beneath that Earth’s Baxter Building.

Acolytes Burns and Hendriks get first named in this issue, though they first appeared last issue. Reynolds first appears in this issue. At this point, neither Burns, Hendriks nor Reynolds have counterparts in the mainstream Marvel Universe.

Spider-Man eating his aunt May and wife Mary Jane only happened off-panel, and was first mentioned to have happened in Marvel Zombies #1. The Wasp attacked Giant-Man last issue, and it resulted in currently only her head surviving.

When the Acolytes and the Black Panther return to Asteroid M, the outer space headquarters is at one point misspelled as “Asteroid III.”

The Acolytes aren’t aware that Magneto got eaten by the Infected in Marvel Zombies #1, as their communication was shut down during the attack.

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