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Marvel’s Original Zombie Was Nothing Like What If’s Marvel Zombies

Marvel’s original undead hero was vastly different from those shown in What If…? being a creature born of magic rather than a virus.

Marvel’s What If…? presents a variety of alternate timelines from across the Marvel Multiverse. One such alternate reality was of an Earth infested with flesh-eating Marvel Zombies. However, one particular character that did not make an appearance in the episode, one that every single Marvel zombie owes respect to; Simon Williams Garth, the original Marvel zombie.

Garth made his debut in 1953’s Menace #5 by Stan Lee and Bill Everett. Already a zombie, Garth is compelled to commit a number of horrendous crimes as he is controlled by a magic amulet wielded by a villainous man deep within the Louisiana swamp. Garth ultimately kills the man before returning to his grave, his tale coming to a quick end.


Years later Garth would be resurrected in 1973’s Tales of the Zombie (by Steve Gerber, Pablo Marcos, and Gaspar Saladino). Simon Williams Garth was brought back to life with horrifying results. Here. Garth was a wealthy business owner in New Orleans, but what he possessed monetarily he lacked emotionally. Garth was a cold, awful man and there was not a single person that respected him for it. Garth was eventually kidnapped by his own groundskeeper, a man named Gyps, the same man from the short story in Menace #5.

Related: A Marvel Zombies Movie Could Pave the Way for the MCU’s Secret Wars

Dragged deep into the swamp, Garth is subjected to a voodoo ritual. Garth manages to escape, but only runs so far before Gyps catches him and kills him by burying a pair of shears into his heart. The voodoo ritual is continued, and Garth is reanimated from his grave as the Zombie. As the Zombie, Garth is thrust into a series of events and incidents that take him from New Orleans, to the island of Haiti, and even to the depths of the ocean floor. Tales of the Zombie ran for 10 issues and through them, the Zombie fought to both find a means to escape his eternal undeath and to right the wrongs committed by those around him.

As the Zombie, Garth possesses many superhuman powers. Primarily, as one of the undead, the Zombie cannot die as no amount of physical damage can harm him. Hand-in-hand with his power of immortality, the Zombie can also regenerate his body regardless of what wounds he receives. He also possesses superhuman strength and limitless stamina. The single biggest weakness that the Zombie is subject to, though, is that he is a servant to whoever wields the amulet of Damballah, an artifact that works in conjunction with the pendant placed around the Zombie’s neck.

Related: Mark Millar Reveals the Never-Told Secret Origin of Marvel Zombies

Despite being a zombie himself, Garth is very different from the rest of the undead that plague both the Marvel Zombies comics and What If…?. The zombies in What If…? are of the classic variety of monsters seen in movies: flesh-hungry and mindless. The zombies of certain heroes such as Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch present varying levels of intelligence and thought, but are still reduced to evil ghouls intent only on feeding. The Zombie does not hunger for flesh; rather, his desire is only to find a means to rest. The zombies in What If…? are infectious and can spread their zombie virus by biting their victims. The Zombie’s condition is magical and therefore cannot be transmitted to other living creatures through physical contact. The Zombie also retains shreds of morality and empathy unlike the zombies of What If…?.

Simon Garth was laid to rest in Tales of the Zombie #9, but like every good ghoul was raised from the dead to appear occasionally in various series over the years. His most prominent appearances have been in 2005’s Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos, 2009’s Marvel Zombies #4, and 2015’s Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. With the Marvel Zombies already having made an appearance, it would be supremely cool to see him in What If…? season 2. Perhaps, though, Simon Williams Garth may get to enjoy what he truly wants: a peaceful rest.

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