Pitchmas 2020, Part 6: Marvel’s Secret History

but really, it’s Marvel Zombies

Covid-19 Note: I know I’m pitching this in the middle of a pandemic. But between how long it would take to write this, then Claymation it, that should put us out 3-5 years. By then I think it wouldn’t be quite as traumatizing (still, better to focus on goofy zombie fun than anything too real-world pandemicky).

Note: About halfway through writing this pitch, I stumbled across the trailer for the “What If…?” animated series (with what feels to me a questionable revision to the title’s punctuation). Looks like there might be a Marvel Zombies episode, possibly, or maybe they’re just doing a “What if Bucky lived instead of Cap” ep and Hydra reanimated Steve to go after him… anyway, that’s a thing, apparently. But this is a different thing.

And to start off, this one’s weirder than usual, namely because to get this even remotely Disney+ friendly, it would need to be stop-motion or claymated (even animated or CG this gets to hard R-rated in a hurry). Like the animated What If series, it would use the actual actors where/whenever possible, or sound-alikes when not. I’d suggest a partnership, either with the studio who did Nightmare Before Christmas or the folks behind Robot Chicken (or buy them both if Disney hasn’t already). I’d base the first season around the first Kirkman book- and especially spreading out the tone of that book to cover all of the zombie sequences- along with a very loose adaptation in the first episode or so of the Mark Millar Ultimate FF run that introduces them, including some of the story from the Army of Darkness crossover, since they blend pretty seamlessly together (if Marvel wants to buy Ash Williams, I’d be happy to have him along for the ride… but I’m assuming he gets replaced in this treatment). I’m assuming the name it’s released under, at the start, is “Marvel’s Secret History,” before at the end of the first episode (probably around the time that Reed gets cornered by all of the zombie Avengers) the actual title is revealed at the end of the episode as “Marvel Zombies.” Of course, since this is going to be a hard, hard PG-13 in the execution, it might make more sense to just forego the surprise, and market it as a more adult-oriented, blackly humorous show from the jump. The pitch is likely to range into R-rated, so if that’s an issue for you. properly warned ye be, says I.

We open on Reed tinkering with the portal-maker that he uses to access the Negative Zone. In his tinkering he ends up looking across at an alternate version of himself- another Reed, younger, but clearly the same guy (he is, for all intents and purposes- and yes, this is a way to backdoor “The Maker” into the MCU, you clever minx, you, but played by a younger actor, so we get snotty Reed- and also so we’re not burning our Reed actor’s contract appearances at twice the rate). That Reed has been scanning alternate universes for a safe space to try and flee to, after an interdimensional contagion ravaged his world. He mentions that so many of the universes aren’t like theirs- a lot of them never managed to undo the Snap, and even those who did, were prime targets for other calamities, like the cancer verse, any of the symbiote-conquered dimensions, dimensions ravaged by Annihilus, the Phalanx, Galactus or any of a thousand different mutants, monsters or madmen. With their world so damaged, they can only intermittently search, and at great personal risk. Reed says he can’t just let them over; they request that he come himself, he can verify what they’re saying, then they can save those who can be saved. Reed accepts, and leaves his portal open, with the caveat that he won’t share the unlock key to it until he’s satisfied.

He’s been had, obviously. As soon as he arrives, the other Reed, and a zombie version of the FF, attack him. The plan is Maker is going to use Reed’s corpse and the unique energy signature it outputs to trace the portal back to his reality, and figures he can brute-force Reed’s encryption. Reed slips through their grasp in an exciting escape through the bowels of the husk of the Baxter Building, only to find still more zombies at street level, including most of the Avengers, who chase him through the streets. He’s webbed up by Spider-Man, only to be ‘rescued’ by the Hulk, who is the “Hungriest one there is.” They bicker comedically (remember, we want the whole thing to match the darkly comic tone of the Kirkman Marvel Zombies series), and Reed makes a break for it, and they give chase. Headpool (who is, yes, the severed head of a zombie Deadpool) asks for a fastball special, and Hulk chucks him at Reed, who narrowly stretches out of his path in a kinetic, slow-motion sequence, with Headpool crashing into a bus side window comically (it’s subtle, but the window moves into his path). Suddenly, all of the cars on the street begin to float, and Colonel America orders a retreat, because Magneto has arrived. Cars rain down towards them, smashing a few of the lesser characters we aren’t going to keep around.

Magneto takes Reed to his subway station lair. Ben Urich is there, and Magneto refers Reed to him to tell the story of the infection since he was there from the beginning, and we watch it in flesh back (pun intended, because it’s that kind of a pitch).

He was embedded with the Avengers, a fluff piece from his editor to try and humanize them, make Americans feel better about the nuclear weapons running around in tights. They’d just returned from a jaunt to the Savage Land, where Ben had almost been eaten by his first dinosaur. I’m having fun narrating as Ben, but probably the narration would fade away and we’d stay in the flashback for several episodes. In fact, to preserve the quirky, dark fun, we’d pretty much have to spend half our time not in Ben’s perspective in the flashback, to give the Zombie Avengers opportunities to be oddball- because this idea lives or days based around whether or not we can make the zombies fun, for reasons you will understand by the end of it. “Seemed like the danger was all behind them. Black Widow was joking about telling him her secret to making the perfect tea back at the Avengers compound, when there was another all points alarm, this one in the middle of New York. They all boarded a Quinjet, in good spirits, because an emergency in NYC meant they’d all be home for dinner.

“It was someone we’d never seen before- or maybe we had- there seemed to be contradictory accounts on that front, but fella named the Sentry, fell out of the sky. The Avengers didn’t know if he was friend or foe, but he was down, in a crater he made when he landed. Hawkeye said he sure was ugly. Sentry tore through them. Snapped Widow’s neck, choked the life out of Captain Marvel, bit Colonel America- all of this faster than I’m describing it.”

“Colonel?” Reed asks quietly to himself. “Hmm. Another difference.”

Ben continues, “He ripped a chunk of out Luke Cage- I didn’t think anything could get through his skin. He flattened Hawkeye- I could see ribs poking through his suit, and I remember thinking they looked like his bow, with strings of flesh and viscera hanging off the ends to complete the macabre homage. I was a deer in headlights, watching this carnage, scribbling like a man possessed. Didn’t realize Sentry had noticed me, was moving towards me, as I tried to get it all down for posterity. Hah.” The laugh is almost a sob, at the idea of there being a posterity to grant the knowledge to. “Widow got back up, twisted her head back around straight. Cap stood up, got his shield, and I thought, okay, this is where they rally- and that I didn’t know Widow was that hardy. Instead, Cap grabs Wasp and bites a chunk out of her wrist, and Widow started blasting pedestrians on the sidewalk.

“I was yanked away- saved, I realized, later, by Spider-Man. But he just had to try his luck. He swings back down amongst the Avengers, grabs some woman under his other arm, and tries to get us both to safety. Only this time the Avengers noticed, and pursued. Luke threw Colonel America- I think Wolverine called it a Fastball Special- and he cannonballed into Spidey, and we both fell a few stories into a dumpster. I’m covered in blood when I come to, which can’t be more than a few seconds later. The Colonel bit deep into Spidey’s shoulder, and he’s trying to negotiate with the other Avengers- there’s plenty of meat to go around- why not let him keep this one morsel; half the Avengers have dragged along pieces of people and don’t stop tearing off pieces and swallowing, barely taking any time to even chew. I never saw what became of the girl- either she landed bad or I figure the Avengers got her. Spidey wrapped his chompers around Hawkeye, threatening to bear down on him if the others wouldn’t let him have me.

“The Colonel said, ‘There’s plenty of meat to go around- it was really you we were chasing- couldn’t let a fine candidate like Spider-Man get away. But you’re an Avenger, now, Brooklyn, and while the mission may have changed, we’re still the Earth’s Mightiest. So once you’ve got your head on straight, I’m sure you’ll see the mission like the rest of us. And leave us Hawkeye; we just might need him before this is out.’

“That was the first time I realized the zombies were thinking– Colonel America was strategizing. They were prioritizing the superhumans, and if they were allowed to, humanity was finished. Spidey threw me on his back, and I’d never felt more like a fly in my life. But while we were swinging, he took off the mask, to show me his face- that he was still human. The bite was effecting him, but his healing was fighting it. I tried to get him to take me to the Fantastic Four, to Reed, with the Avengers out of commission the First Family were the next best thing. But the thought of them brought Spider-Man back to his family, and he took me home- his home, instead. He put me down just outside of his apartment; he wasn’t thinking straight- I mean I watched him go in, watched his family greet him watched… but something in him changed. He attacked them. It was gruesome, even compared to what happened to the Avengers.”

At the mention of them, we cut away, as a handful of stragglers show up to the Sentry fight, the Avengers attack their allies. I’m going to say this group includes She-Hulk, Black Panther, and Giant Man (Hank Pym), Scott Lang, and Wasp II (Hope). The Avengers we saw earlier are playing possum, with Hank violently shaking Janet trying to wake her. “Thank God,” Colonel America says, walking towards them with his shield raised. He moves closer, saying, “Avengers,” before lowering the shield enough they can see his partially desiccated face, “bite to wound.” Quickly the heroes are overwhelmed, not really understanding what they’re up against. We see several Avengers fall before cutting away (though we don’t see Hank and Black Panther injured in this fight).

Back to Ben, and our scene with Spider-Man, “Nova showed up and flew in through his window; they both flew out a second later, the Spider attacking the Nova. Daredevil showed up, too, and tried to convince the Nova to kill Spider-Man, but he couldn’t. They were friends; ‘chums,’ I think he called them. Daredevil tried to do it himself, but he couldn’t outmaneuver the Spider, and got chomped for his efforts. Nova was freaking out; I wasn’t going to wait and see if he wised up or if Spider-Man remembered he’d left a snack on the adjoining roof, so I climbed down.

“New Yorkers get jaded. We see celebrities, super heroes. Every real New Yorker has a story. Not meeting them professionally, or getting rescued. But seeing them in their day to day lives. I bumped into Hank Pym once getting a hot dog. He wasn’t still wearing the suit, those days, was just a down on his luck inventor. Wild hair. Smirk. That glint in his eyes. But I heard him, walking down the street, and recognized his voice; elephants made less noise than he did, stomping down the street. And I thought, I’m saved. But the reporter in me, it told me to wait. Listen. Observe. Cause he was talking to somebody, the Black Panther, come to find out.

“He said his scientists in Wakanda could handle the infection. Pym thought he could handle it back at his lab- but was just glad to have run into T’Challa when he did. Only the Panther was side-eyeing him, like he knew something I didn’t. Then I saw it; Pym’s uniform was dark, reds and blacks, so I didn’t notice at first, but his side, it was bloody. He’d been hurt. Panther knew it, too, said so; Hank was fast, grew tall enough even the Panther couldn’t get away.”

We hear Pym muttering about squirreling him away for a snack later as he drags him into an underground stairwell, then we’re back in Ben’s POV: “I felt a gun pressed into my head, and thought at least that’s a reasonable way to die, instead of getting eaten alive or torn into jerky strips. The Punisher had me turn around, and was surprised I wasn’t one of them. He asked if I could hold a gun, and didn’t wait for me to respond before thrusting a shotgun into my hands. He led me to Fisk Tower, one of the board rooms in the basement level. The Kingpin himself was there, with every superpowered Mafioso in the Five Burroughs. He welcomed Frank inside, said the rules had changed, it was humanity against something else. Frank didn’t even let him finish the thought before mowing them all down. I wasn’t sure I was going to have any better luck with that monster than with the others, and my legs were carrying me even before I registered dropping the shotgun, which was probably a mistake.

“I ran the rest of the way to Four Freedoms Plaza; I don’t remember breathing the entire way. Alarms were blaring off; the lobby was empty, no security, half the windows shattered. I found a keycard slicked with blood, and it got me to the penthouse. The place had been trashed, and I could hear screaming. There’d been a rampage, but I couldn’t just leave; I felt like I had to know, like… that same observer in me, from before, had to know who’d lived, who’d died. God, I don’t know how I managed to survive so long with such awful instincts.

“Reed and Sue’s kids were dead. She-Hulk filled in for the Thing for a while, after a fight with the Wolverine, even wore one of their blue suits. So she had access, cards, codes, the works. Why the hell she used it to attack the Fantastic Four’s kids, I’ll never know. She was raging the way her cousin was known to, but Ben had her, and Sue executed her; pretty sure this green stain here is the part I got hit with.

“I screamed, and the Human Torch nearly burned me alive. Richards listened, though I’m pretty sure I only made sense every hundredth word or so. And then they got the call, from Fury. He had a decommissioned Helicarrier floating above Manhattan.”

Elsewhere… Giant Man returns to the Avengers compound. The Avengers are snacking on one of their support staff. They offer him a bite. Colonel America breaks away from the rest of them to speak with Hank. “I got a plan. When I’m fed, I can still strategize. But I need your big brain to help with some subterfuge.”

“Sounds fun,” Hank says with a truly grotesque smile. “But first I’m going to need,” the Wasp (Janet) throws him a leg, and he takes a bite out of it, and he follows the Colonel.

We’re back with Ben. “The Four took me with them to Fury, along the way rescuing Nova and Thor from the Thunderbolts.” Because we’re in the MCU, I’m assuming these Thunderbolts would be the ones from last year’s pitch, so Red Hulk, a symbiote, Elektra, maybe Ghost Rider. Headpool and Punisher are not with them.  

We switch narrators, briefly, to Magneto, “I worried over Charles, when the plague hit. I was too late to save him, but I was able to save his charges from Alpha Flight, the Canadian mutant team. They had turned. We received communication from Fury, as well, and rendezvoused with the carrier.”

Back to Ben: “Guy like that can really get you to hate the sound of your own voice. Anyway, everyone who wasn’t one of them showed up. Scarlet Witch was the only Avenger there; apparently Colonel America called an all-points alarm.”

Inside the Avengers compound. The lights are all off, and the zombies are trying to hide. Hawkeye snickers, loudly. “If you can’t cram it, Barton, I’m breaking your jaw,” Colonel America barks quietly.

“I ate the women I loved most in the world. Why?” Spider-Man moans, his voice breaking.

“Shut up, Parker,” Colonel America says. 

Several Avengers burst into the room, slowing when they see it’s dark and seemingly empty. The lights come on, and Hawkeye yells, “Surprise!”

Colonel America groans, then stands and says, “Avengers, assimilate!”

“Oh, like the Borg on that old Star Trek show.” Spider-Man says.

“Shut up, Parker,” Colonel America says through a mouthful of Jack of Hearts.

We’re back on the carrier, where Scarlet Witch is giving a tearful rendition of what came next. “Every Avenger showed up, and everyone who did, they took a bite out of. I called out to Pietro to escape, but he didn’t come. As I was fleeing, I saw him scoop up what looked like me, but it was Mystique. She bit him, and my heart broke.”

“Your Quicksilver survived the fight with Ultron,” Reed remarks.

We cut back to the Helicarrier, where Fury takes over the briefing. “Early reports put Quicksilver all over the planet, stopping us from just dropping a nuke on New York, this is now a global contagion.”

Ben summarizes: “Fury’s plan was pretty simple: the eggheads would work on a cure, while everyone else tried to beat back the tide- rescue what humans we could, stem the loss of life where we couldn’t. After, I managed to shove my way to Fury, and told him what the Colonel was planning- it wasn’t an accident that the world’s heroes were targeted first- that we had to get to superhumans first.

“Son of a bitch already knew, already had a hundred point plan in place, assignments going out to strike teams. He dispatched Sue Storm to Atlantis, on the hopes of using her rapport with Namor to use it as a safe zone; but the infection had already spread there. They sent Johnny to Attilan, to try and secure that; Black Bolt was the last man standing- the Inhumans were overrun and the only thing he could do was destroy it all with a scream. Fury went himself to Latveria, to try and reason with Doom, but there was never any ship there to sail. The X-Men went to the Savage Land, Magneto to Mount Wundagore, Strange to Kamar-Taj, Iron Fist to K’un-Lun. Everywhere they went there was either no room at the inn, or no survivors.

“Reed hand-picked a strike team. Their primary goal was capturing Hank Pym, with a secondary goal of discovering the whereabouts of T’Challa; he didn’t believe the King of Wakanda would fall as easily as the rest. It included the best man-hunters available, including Wolverine, Jessica Jones, Madrox, Misty Knight, Hellcat, Blade, and Deadpool.” We pop out of Ben’s POV, to show them stalking through the streets. They find Hank’s lab, and Pym, and the bloodied tatters of Black Panther’s costume. They capture Pym, but as they’re exiting, they’re ambushed by the Avengers. Not all of them make it back, but presumably Madrox, Deadpool and Wolverine do.

We have a scene of Reed and Hank talking. Hank is almost evangelizing the benefits of being a Zombie, that they’re still able to move, but require far less energy, and can still think; in a way it’s an incredible evolution, if only the negative side effects could be tempered. Reed is not repulsed by Hank’s twisted sense of humor. Sue walks in on them, and is disgusted, and says so before storming out.

“I was assisting Fury, since I was good at tracking multiple trains of thought. Banner was making the most progress, Tony seemed to have abandoned the idea in its entirety, and Reed was getting stranger and stranger. Fury confronted Stark, who admitted that his simulations showed the Earth was a lost cause the moment Quicksilver became infected, so he’d spent his time building out a portal and looking for other worlds. He’d found a handful of suitable life preservers, but that with only the helicarrier’s power they couldn’t use it until everyone was assembled- and even then, they probably couldn’t save everyone. They knew Hank McCoy was among the infected, and couldn’t trust broadcasting this information, knowing he could likely decrypt it.

“Like I said, Colonel America had been planning all this time, building his army.” We pop out of Ben’s POV, in Central Park, where the Colonel gives a demented version of one of his speeches.

“When I was first bitten, all I could think was about eating. But after gorging myself on tourists, which, by the way, taste like hot dogs, I could think again. For a few minutes. And I realized, damnit, people, we’re Avengers. We needed to tackle this problem like Avengers. And that meant getting organized. Because unless we were fed well enough to plan, there was no way we were going to be able to beat this. Now, I know the price of eating is high- Parker can’t stop blubbering about his aunt and stupid girlfriend-“

“Why!” Spidey exclaims, collapsing melodramatically to his knees.

“Shut up, Parker. I know I’m asking a lot. The price of eating is high, but it always has been. It’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, then so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.” Relative silence, mild golf-clapping. “You think this ‘A’ on my head stands for vegetarian?” he asks dramatically, pointing to his forehead which does not have an A on it.

“Uh,” Spidey says, cocking his head to the side.

“Now let’s go eat some super heroes!”

And we’re back in Ben’s POV narrating. “The only reason we stood half a chance at all was the Avengers attacked when most of our side were back from globe-trotting. They gathered beneath the Helicarrier, and attacked. The returning heroes saw them, and without hesitation counter-attacked.”

This is the clay/silicone equivalent of End Game, a massive fight. For the first few minutes, it looks like the good guys are winning, like they’ve got a chance.

We cut back up to the Helicarrier. Reed is laughing with Hank, as the Fantastic Four show up. Ben is antsy to get out to the fighting; Sue is angry, because their friends are dying while they talk. Reed insists that what they’re doing is more important; their friends are dying so the four of them can ensure they preserve everything they care about. First he mentions his colleagues’ work. “Stark is paranoid; wouldn’t even let me into his labs. But I know his models predict us losing, just like mine, and he’ll have abandoned his original project, and substitute it with some kind of life raft or escape hatch solution instead. Pity; his original solution might have worked best, if he could have ramped up production on armor quickly enough to coat us all in unbitable skin. But then he wouldn’t have been special, and I think Stark would rather die than go back to being a face in the crowd.

“Banner’s been sharing notes with Hank and I; radiation doesn’t seem to effect the infection, and biology was always a distant second specialty, so he welcomed our… expertise. He likely would have missed the deadline- if you’ll pardon the pun- anyway, even without them steering his work in a more fruitful direction. But what neither Stark nor Banner understood, was this isn’t an aberration to be stamped out, this is evil-lution (yes, pronounced like that), a unifying life form that could end poverty, disease, want, racism, xenophobia. There are kinks, to be sure; the hunger will need to be curbed, an infection 2.0. I’ve been steering Banner’s research in that direction, even if he isn’t savvy enough to understand the modifications I’ve made.”

“We,” Pym barks from his place clamped to a table.

“Too right, Dr. Pym.”

“You’re insane. You’re both insane,” Sue yells.

Maker sighs. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to see this from my side, Susan. But I suspect you’ll be able to from Dr. Pym’s. You might have noticed a small scratch, while I was speaking. All it takes is the slightest abrasion of the skin, at the microscopic level. Hank’s ants have already infected you- in fact, you’ll be turning in 3, 2, 1.” The other members of the Fantastic Four vomit, and their faces contort.

“Why?” Sue gargles in agony.

Maker strokes her cheek. “Because I love you. I want us to be able to be a family in this new world, and to arrive intact. Our friends, below, many will not be so fortunate. But make no mistake, this was always humanity’s last stand. But with my, Bruce and Hank’s research, perhaps some sliver of humanity might remain.”

“You’re insane,” she says, convulsing on the ground.

“You’re not professionally qualified to make that judgment, and it’s petty of you to use it as an insult to describe a difference of opinion. In less than a half a minute you’ll be in complete agreement with me; we’ll be a family again.”

We cut back to the battle below, only the tide starts turning. And just as things are darkest, the Sentry arrives- and the battle is well and truly lost. Heroes we know and have managed to survive to this point are being bitten, including Wolverine and the X-Men.

Reed and his Frightful Four break down the door into Stark’s lab. “I didn’t want to believe it. I know you’ve been troubled by your failures surrounding this plague, but I thought better of you, Reed.” Tony’s mask slides shut. “Avengers!” he says through a modified voice. Thor and Hulk step into the room. The three Avengers take on the four of them. They’re being overpowered, even before Tony reacts to an injury inside his suit. We go super small, and see Giant Man has bit stark inside his armor. “Pym?” Tony yells. “I’m compromised.” Thor is flung across the room by Invisible Woman. Hulk, trying valiantly to hold back the other three, but Thing bites his eyeball. Tony yells back to Thor, “You have to destroy my teleporter, before they try to use it to escape to fresh worlds.” Thor nods solemnly, and brings his hammer, crackling with lightning, down on the teleporter.

As still more heroes are bitten, Magneto yells for them to retreat to the Hellicarrier, it’s their best hope. They can make their last stand there. From outside, we see the thunder strike cleave the carrier, fatally wounding it, and sending it crashing down into buildings.

Finally we’re back with Ben, who’s with Fury on the Helicarrier. He asks what’s going on, and Fury tells him it’s their roll coming up snake eyes. He gives Ben a flash drive, tells him to take it to Strange. He’s going to try and sneak himself to Latveria, see if maybe Doom can be talked off the sidelines now. Only Fury’s cut down by a Repulsor Ray through the chest.

“Fury always has another scheme,” Iron Man says as we pan away from Ben, who gets into an escape pod and ejects. Iron Man is left standing with Reed and Hank, who are distracted by Fury, who’s still moving. Iron Man remarks that it smells like bacon, and Hank assures him that it tastes even better.

Urich’s escape pod lands him at the edge of the battle, as it’s getting dark. The field is an orgy of blood and violence. He sneaks his way past/through it, trying to remember the way to Strange’s Sanctum (depending on budget/difficulty, this could be a hell of a ride through the battle as he’s trying more than anything not to be noticed amid the chaos). He sees it through an alleyway, and is attacked by a zombie Howard the Duck, and is saved by the Scarlet Witch. They enter the Sanctum (she’s able to bypass the lock magically), to find Mordo has eaten Wong. Mordo is remorseful, feeling he did not want to become this pitiable creature. Strange emerges from a portal, and puts Mordo out of his misery. He tells them that Kamar-Taj had fallen, that he stayed there, working with its mystics to try and find a magical solution, but as one by one they succumbed to their infections, he was forced to face the truth: magic has failed. Strange opens a portal to Latveria, on the hopes that a man of both science and magic might be able to succeed in its stead.

We see the exterior of Castle Doom, under assault by various zombified European heroes like Captain Britain and, for some reason, Goliath. Inside, Doom doesn’t great them happily- he takes issue with anyone teleporting inside his forcefield. Strange tries to reason with him, and Doom says he has plans. He arrogantly tells them he neither needs their help, nor will he accept it. As always, Doom will provide for the people of Latveria, as the rest of the world could not provide for their own.

We cut back to the Avengers Compound, where all of the assembled zombie heroes are planning (we can cut it back to the more strategically oriented among them, so Colonel America, Iron Man, Maker, Hank Pym, Cyclops) to make the scene more manageable. Hulk is there, not because he’s strategic, but because he’s a fun foil to have in the room. Stark’s scans show that infection rates are close to 90% most of the world over- thanks to Quicksilver’s overactive metabolism they’re running out of food faster than even their most pessimistic models. There’s one exception: Latveria. Doom’s forcefield has so far kept the infection out, and he’s kept his population safe. There are a handful of European enhanciles trying to break through, but Doom should be able to handle them. And combined, the Avengers should be able to topple Doom’s castle, and feast. Reed tries to be a voice of reason, to get them to ration the humans- that they don’t actually digest, or even really eat; their hunger makes them gorge themselves, but the Latverian population could last them for years, during which time they could either fix Stark’s portal or move to the stars. “Hulk always wondered what Skrullburger taste like.”

Back at Doomstadt, Doom unleashes an army of Doombots. They kill or chase off the zombies, save for Goliath. He swats them away- their ordinance isn’t enough to really harm him at his size. So Doom launches missiles, which jab into him then explode. Doom is pompously triumphant, as the rest of the Avengers show and lay siege to the castle. Their big guns lay into the force field, which begins to flicker.

Doom is taken aback, about ready to give up. His scientists say they still need time. Dr. Strange and Scarlet Witch offer to help him, and all three go outside, lending their magic to the force field, and keeping it up for a few minutes. They open a tiny portion of the forcefield to allow a squadron of Doombots out to attack the zombie heroes. But this is the next big battle, with the magic wielders doing a lot of damage to the zombies when the field comes down- just not enough. They’re outnumbered horrifically, and one after another get turned. Doom, the last to fall, stumbles back inside the Castle, and orders his guard to “Die for Doom!” Ben follows him into his labs, where a steady stream of Latverians are being led through a portal. Doom admits the tragedy: he’d been spying on the Helicarrier- that was why he didn’t need the intel Ben brought from Fury. But they weren’t able to completely recreate Stark’s device- they could only move the Latverians. He offers to send Ben with them- he’s proven resourceful, and might be able to help his people reactivate Stark’s teleporter and make it off world. He’s been watching Reed, and knows he moved the teleporter to his building. “Or, you can stay here, and I can eat you. I would really enjoy doing so. The hunger is becoming unbearable.” Ben runs through the portal, and Doom smashes it.

He’s immediately surrounded by zombie heroes. “Hah!” he laughs. “Doom has won! You have lost your prize, and I’ve already been bitten. There is nothing you can do to Doom!”

“I can still clobber ya,” Thing says.

He punches him, and we pan towards the other zombies, as we hear Doom yell, “Ah, my beautiful face!” and the sounds of further clobberin’.

They bicker, about their lost food, how they’re already starving. Spider-Man collapses to his knees. “MJ, why?”

“Shut up, Parker,” Colonel America says.

We cut to Ben, arriving through the portal. They’re in Four Freedoms Tower; it looks largely like it did when Ben was last there, including flecks of She-Hulk all over the place. The teleporter, however, is still just as smashed as when Thor whacked it with Mjolnir. They’re stuck. Ben tries to convince them to split apart, that the Avengers will be less likely to hunt them down if they’re in smaller groups. But the Latverians don’t want to separate, and decided to flee north.

Ben, feeling like he’d failed, wanders off alone. He’s found by several zombie Avengers and attacked. Magneto saves him, and brings him to this lair.

And just like that, we’re back to our framing story. Reed asks what his counterpart wants. If he hadn’t fixed the teleporter, maybe he had reservations about spreading the disease between worlds. He theorizes he may still be collecting data, to decide the best ways to spread it, or whether it makes more sense to spread it to other planets within this dimension, first, before venturing between them. Either way, he needs to get them back to his home dimension, and away from these zombies, and then ensure they can’t be followed. Though clearly his counterpart repaired it enough since for them to speak across dimensions and lure him there.

But first, Reed insists they track down the Latverians. His plan is to lead them back to the teleporter and safety. They don’t have to go far, unfortunately, and find that the Avengers caught up with them as they tried to trek outside of the city. Their hunger led them to, yet again, gorge on the Latverians, and they’re hungry by the time Reed, Magneto and Ben arrive. They flee, attempting to hide again in the underground lair, but are tracked there by Wolverine and Daredevil. They flee again, this time to the tower. Magneto has the sickening realization that he can’t go with them, that he has to stay, and destroy the machine from this side after them, to ensure the infected can never use it. Reed tells him that it’s paramount that he focus his attack on the intellectual zombies, his counterpart, Doom, Stark, Pym. Magneto understands. Hawkeye looses and arrow at Reed, and Ben jumps in the way, sacrificing himself for Reed, who uses the teleporter; they both make it through, to be able to have a tearful goodbye.

We linger on the teleporter after Reed leaves in the proper MCU, having locked it down with his security code, and turns down the lights. The Maker and the Frightful Four suddenly appear there, having teleported invisible along with Reed. “Come along, my Frightful Four. We have so much to do to remake this world in our glorious image.” We zoom past the Frightful Four, and into the last crackling bit of energy as the portal dissipates.

We see Magneto, standing triumphantly over the machine, crushing it. Then he blasts his way out of the building, and crushes the building, too, for good measure. The assembled zombie Avengers attack Magneto. He drops the surrounding buildings on their heads, then assembles a cocoon of metal that flies into the sky. The flying Avengers chase after it, as Magneto slinks away on foot, with Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer, too. Magneto gets a call, staticky radio transmission. It’s from Asteroid M, his satellite base. There are survivors there, and they want to rendezvous with him. He gives them coordinates to Pym’s hideout, figuring he can secure himself there for a time.

He tries to escape, but is spotted. A fight ensues, and he severely wounds several of them, including putting a girder through Daredevil’s chest and lopping off the top of Colonel America’s head with his shield. He also prevents Spider-Man’s web-shooter from functioning, leading Spider-Man to fall several stories and break his leg (it’s hanging by a thread for a while, literally). He’s shot by Hawkeye with an arrow, and decapitates him with the Colonel’s shield, then puts the arrow through Thor’s throat. They literally rip him into pieces, with Hulk, proclaiming himself the hungriest there is, ending up with a leg to himself.

They eat Magneto, and discuss the nature of their grotesque transformation. Banner, in particular, distends disturbingly from the leg in his now tiny, human stomach. Over the coarse of the scene, he can feel it slowly pushing out of him as it tears his insides apart, all while Spider-Man mewls about the monster they’ve become, and that he ate the two most important people in his life. Pym insists that they can think straight, temporarily, since eating Magneto, and they mustn’t waste this precious time on self-recriminations.

Banner, fearing the damage Magento’s leg bone will do when it ruptures through his stomach , asks one of them to hit him, because he doesn’t want a hole in him. Thor obliges, whacking him with his makeshift cinderblock hammer in the face (since he’s no longer worthy to lift Mjolnir). “Id’s nod worging, I feel no bain, I’m nod durning,” says a still human Banner. He narrates as the bone tears out of his stomach, bursting out of him like the chest-burster in Alien (if a bit lower). You see now why this had to be Claymation? Thor leans over to eat some of the Magneto chunks that fell out of Banner. Done right, this is all darkly comical, I promise.

They discuss the fact that they’re biologically dead- they clearly aren’t digesting, with his heart gone, Daredevil’s blood is all pooling in his legs thanks to gravity. Wolverine sums it up best- they’re dead, but not dying. Cage sees something in the sky, then they all see it: the Silver Surfer.

He’s gone before they can follow. Hank breaks off from the rest, saying he has to find Janet. We follow him, and he goes into his underground lab, where he was captured earlier. He has a secret compartment, and inside, an undisturbed lab, as well as an unconscious Black Panther. He’s missing an arm, and chemically sedated. Hank goes to work sawing off one of his legs as he talks about the fact that with another piece of him he can think things through, maybe come up with a way to finish Banner’s serum to help quell the hunger. He’s full of rationalizations, about how this is all a for the greater good, that if he were conscious T’Challa would probably even agree- not that he’s going to let him wake to ask him, which is why on some level he knows he’s a monster.

Janet, who followed him shrunk down, confronts him, demanding he share Black Panther. He reckons he’s going to need every scrap of meat to figure out a cure for the hunger. They argue, come to blows, and he grows and bites her head off, spitting it out because they taste terrible.

The rest of the Avengers return to Iron Man, who figures out pretty quickly that there was enough of Magneto to eat, because Hulk is Banner and Spider-Man is weepy, both of which happen after feeding. He and Colonel America discuss a plan to take a handful of their strongest and smartest and disappear to look for better food sources, with fewer mouths to feed. Daredevil, due to his super hearing, eavesdrops enough to suggest they take a Quinjet; if people think it’s an Avengers rescue mission they’ll run out to greet them.

Just then, the Silver Surfer arrives again. This time he stops overhead, and tells them their world is to be used to sate the hunger of Galactus, that their time is short, and they should prepare for their end. Stark orders the Avengers (really at this point every remaining super being) to get him. Iron Man is cut in half by the Surfer’s blast. Stark manages to grab onto his board and pull himself up to chomp on his leg; however, his teeth shatter on Surfer’s tough skin.

As the Surfer is swarmed, it is eventually Thor who manages to shatter his makeshift hammer on the Surfer, knocking him off his board. Several zombies attack, only for the Surfer to dispatch them. Wolverine pounces, slashing Surfer; his blood is corrosive, and burns away the flesh on Wolverine’s arm (and without the tendons holding his unbreakable bones together, they fall to the ground). Iron Halfman grabs Wolverine’s knee, and tells him to fling him into the fray, so Wolverine fastball specials him. As the fighting heats up, Pym skulks in the shadows of an alley, deciding discretion is the better part of valor, and leaves.

Spider-Man decides to just tear the stupid limb off, rather than leave it dangling, and Banner’s hunger finally wins out and he rehulks. Hulk smashes his way through the fight and snatches Silver Surfer. He gets blasted with the Power Cosmic in the face for his troubles, but Hulk chomps off the Surfer’s head. The rest swarm on Surfer’s body. Giant Man scoops up Spidey and Iron Man and helps them get some torso. Hercules tries to steal the Surfer’s head from Hulk’s mouth, only to get smashed. Beast complains some of them didn’t get any, and Colonel America thrusts out his hand to tell him to quit whining- and blasts his face off with the Power Cosmic.

Cut away to an empty city street. We hear the sound of a walking device, then Black Panther wobbles into view, using a makeshift crutch on the stub of one arm, carrying Wasp’s head under the other. She’s begging for just a taste, for him to cut off a piece of a finger, she’s so hungry. He’s her friend, but the entire thing is morbid, and he lectures her over that fact.

Magneto’s Acolytes confront Black Panther, thinking he’s a zombie, and ask him where Magneto is. They’re shocked he’s human, and alive. But some of the Acolytes want to kill him, anyway, so he flings Wasp’s head at one, and fights long enough for Cortez to tell them to back off, and they all scurry back to the Asteroid together.  

Glactus arrives, and the zombies attack him. Galactus mows through those who weren’t Power Cosmiced up, and the remaining heroes retreat to Pym’s lab. He was planning to use Black Panther’s body to keep them all smart enough to build a machine to help them beat Galactus. Instead, they come up with a grotesque solution- re-eating chunks of meat, then surgically removing them from their stomachs to eat them again. Their bodies are acidic enough the meat gets smaller each time, but it’s helped. Colonel America arrives with the last item on their list- Wakandan Vibranium. They also have McGuffins from all over they’ve been assembling (we can play these runs out, depending on pacing needs). They finish their device, and prepare to take on Galactus, but are met by Red Skull and his own band of zombie villains.

On Asteroid M, Black Panther settles in, and meets Forge, who offers to build him some prosthetic limbs.

Back in the city, the Avengers blast Galactus with the machine meant to amplify their cosmic powers, downing him. Red Skull’s band try to join in the meal- and a fight ensues. It really is a who’s who of Marvel versus, with everybody getting a grudge match or two. But the Cosmic Avengers really do outclass their former villains, and tear through them-the exception being poor Colonel America, whose exposed brain is a fairly easy weakness for Red Skull to exploit (in the book he tears a chunk out; personally, I’d put a grenade in there, but there are clearly a lot of black comedy options). Galactus, however, has rallied, and is ticked off. But he’s vulnerable, and the Avengers tear into their meal.

We fade to black, and we do a five years later, not because I’m reviving that gag again, but because that’s what happened in the book.

A ship lands on Earth. Black Panther, with robot limbs, Wasp, in a shiny new robot body, the Acolytes among them a new Mrs. Black Panther and their new cub, venture out. They say there haven’t been scans of lifesigns for years. They’ve been watching the planet, nothing moving, no zombies, nothing. They mention that Galactus’ attack killed most undead life on Earth, but some of the sturdier heroes and villains survived, for a time. But they haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since. They don’t know where they could have gone.

Title card: Another world. A peaceful alien race is bedding down for the evening. We linger on them long enough to start to empathize, when they’re attacked by the Marvel Zombies, inexplicably now wearing Galactus armor (he always was a trendsetter). Captain Marvel, at the head of a force including the Shiar Imperial Guard, and an Armada that’s a who’s who of Marvel alien races, is at her back. She says something to the effect that their eating tour of the galaxy is at an end. Iron Man remarks, “Oh, good, she brought dessert,” and leaps at camera, and we’re swallowed down, then back out the hole at the end of his esophagus (because he’s only half an Iron Man, remember). Hulk tears intestines out of a super skrull, and they fly into camera in the shape of the logo for “Marvel Zombies.” He eats messily as that slides off the camera, only for more viscera to hit with, “The end?”   

On second thought, (or really, on revisiting the books this is based off) maybe this should be R rated and just go to Hulu, instead. Don’t want to give all the children nightmares. Because who are we kidding, kids and adults are going to see the style and assume this is for kids. And actually, on that note… the show should begin with zombie Colonel America, sitting in a chair, to give one of the recorded messages used in Spider-Man: Homecoming. “So, you think this is appropriate for kids? Just because I’m animated using silicone dolls, doesn’t mean we aren’t going to show a ton of graphic violence, really twisted humor, and scenes so adult most of our voice actors probably shouldn’t have been exposed to them. Look, parenting is tough, and I don’t want to tell you how to raise your kids, but if the thought of watching Spider-Man eat Mary Jane and Aunt May sounds like it might be too much, I’m telling you, we linger on it. By the end of that scene you’ll think Disney’s going to open up a Spider-Man’s Finger-Licking Girlfriend stand at Disneyland, and the scene is just an elaborate commercial for it. But hell, if you want to raise a generation of little psychopaths, what do I care? I eat a bunch of people in this show, some of them friends. You think this ‘A’ stands for approved for all audiences?” he asks, pointing at his forehead, which does not have an A on it.

“You’re not wearing the one with the A, Steve,” the cameraman interrupts.

He kicks his chair over, which is good because it knocks over the camera and cuts him off as he says, “Aw, f-“

If we are still going to try to put this on Disney + (which I think could work- there’s other PG-13 stuff on there), I’d even follow that with some white text on a black banner. “We’re not kidding. This is a pretty adult show. Marvel heroes get turned into zombies and eat people. We play it for laughs, but for impressionable kids, this could really screw them up. If you wouldn’t let your kids watch Day of the Dead, Army of Darkness or all eight Herbie the Lovebug movies in a single sitting, we really can’t in good conscience suggest you watch with your children. Then again, we were also bit by Colonel America, and so we don’t have a good conscience anymore- just the bad one, and we can feel the hunger overtaking us even now…”

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