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Points of Articulation

Poe Ghostal
Marvel Zombies cover gallery

For their Marvel Zombies series, Marvel gave the books covers that were homages to classic issues. It's thematically appropriate, and a fun piece of design work. But it's a lot of stuff to keep track of.

There are a few sites that have cover galleries, but none of them are complete, and it looks like all of them have stopped updating at some point. So this is a little off-topic, but here are all the homage covers, and the books they're referencing (and, courtesy the now-defunct Wizard Magazine, some commentary by artist Arthur Suydam):

Marvel Zombies

To kick off Marvel Zombies, Suydam concocted this ghoulish take on Jack Kirby's Amazing Fantasy #15, the issue that featured the first-ever appearance of Spider-Man. "I thought this cover was a great choice because you're shooting for iconic. I was thinking, 'You're kicking off the series - go for the most recognizable and the most-seen images in Marvel comics.'"

For its second printing, issue #1 leapt forward almost 30 years and offered fans a reworking of Todd McFarlane's now-legendary Spider-Man #1. In tackling this image, Suydam opted to make the Webslinger live up to his name. "I used to take trips down to Florida just to get lizards and snakes and spiders as pets. The whole thing with spiders is that they trap things in their webs, and that's something I'd never really seen done with the Spider-Man characater, so my concept for this cover was to really play that up. If you look, he's got a lot of people trapped in that web."

For Suydam's clever riff on Kirby's famous "Avengers Assemble" image, he knew he had to do more than simply rehash what had come before. "If it were my zombie world, I'd want to have each of my zombies have a very distinct personality. I decided to take the top of Captain America's head off, and I thought, 'If you were a bird and there was some dead guy sitting around who didn't move too much, it'd be a good place to build a nest!'"

One of the most famous covers to ever feature Wolverine, Suydam felt that it was missing one key element: eyeballs. "I decided that [Wolverine] is the caviar man, and his caviar was going to be eyeballs!" the artist laughs. "For me, that was an important part of treating the zombie subject matter - having a little bit of humor in there to make it more palatable. I was shooting to take characters that, by their nature, are not very funny, and add some levity."

Note: while the image is an homage to Incredible Hulk #340, the reflection in Wolverine's claws is based on Glenn Fabry's art for the Incredible Hulk videogame cover.

According to Suydam, there's more to this striking close-up than meets the eye - literally. "The defining element of Daredevil was that he was a blind man who was able to see more than people who had their eyesight. So with that in mind, I decided to focus on the eyeballs, and that would be the treasure for the zombie. If she conquered this particular character, then the prize would be the eyes of a blind man."

Ah, the first X-Men cover. No Wolverine, no Claremont and Byrne, Iceman in galoshes. Here, in Suydam's hands, this innocent Kirby imagery transforms into a garish - and gut-bustingly funny - splatterfest. "After getting a couple of covers under my belt, I felt like I was getting in the groove of the direction that would define my take on all of these covers. Oddly enough, this seems to be the favorite of most folks."

"This was the most difficult one of all," Suydam says. "Schedule-wise, it took me about 12 or 14 days to finish. I decided that this was an old dress and that Mary Jane was long dead in this thing and, if you look closely, there are four mice that live in her wedding gown." [John Romita Sr.] may not be a horror fan, but Suydam won him over: "I've always been puzzled by the appeal of this genre - Dracula, the Mummy, the Living Dead - but Arthur Suydam is an accomplished cover artist with a dazzling palette. His art is a feast for a reader's eyes. It's flattering to see my cover so well satirized."

Hardcover Collections

"That cover represents the summation of the series for me," Suydam says. "I looked at this as the high school graduation class shot, basically. This and the Spider-Man wedding piece were my two favorite covers." Original artist Mike Zeck agrees: "Originally I was prepared to describe the idea as somewhat lame, but I must confess to a change of mind when I saw the painting. That one had me laughing, especially the Cyclops idea. Kudos to Suydam."

Ultimate Fantastic Four

"This Man, This Monster" is a long-cherished issue examining the tragedy of Ben Grimm. This time around, Suydam opted not to aim for the funnybone. "It's one of my favorite Fantastic Four stories, and was a grim story, so I didn't feel it was appropriate to stick any humor in there. Seeing the Thing looking at his hands in guilt, you realize you just have to go on the grim ride."

Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness

For the debut issue of this chainsaw-wielding crossover between Marvel and Dynamite, a comedic stroke of brilliance mutated Byrne's seminal "Days of Future Past" into meals of zombies present. "Before I started on it, I sat with it a bit and sketched out some things and waited until something clicked, basically," says Suydam. "Once I had the menu idea, the rest just fell into place. As a footnote, I initially misspelled "Dessert" and I wrote "Desert." I had to go back and add that second 'S.'"

Marvel Zombies: Dead Days

Marvel Zombies 2

Black Panther

The Book of Angels, Demons & Various Monstrosities

Marvel Zombies 3

Marvel Zombies 4

Marvel Zombies Return

If you like those covers, Marvel collected them all in a single book that you can put on your shelf. And if you're interested in the story between those covers, here's a reading order:

If you know any other zombie homages that aren't on this list, just drop us a line and let us know.

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