George Romero, the creator of modern zombie fiction, is bringing the ghouls he created in 1968 to a new medium. Romero tells USA Today that he's planning a Marvel miniseries called Empire of the Dead, a spiritual partner to the long-running series that most recently included Survival of the Dead in 2009. Launching in January, the fifteen-issue miniseries will be set in New York — the city where Romero was born but one he says he could never afford to film in. Empire's New York will apparently be a few years into a zombie apocalypse. "It's basically Chicago or Detroit," says Romero. "The city isn't destroyed, but it's just running on its engine, corrupt and no holds barred. It's a little bit like the Old West."
Though the formula isn't precisely fresh, Romero is promising a twist, which he'll reveal at New York Comic Con. From his hints to USA Today, it sounds as if it might have something to do with the notion of smart zombies. "These zombies are starting to show sparks of real care and concern for each other," he says. "We've got some new rules and new characters, and we're taking it in a completely different direction." Intelligent zombies were explored in Return of the Living Dead, an unofficial sequel to Romero's film, and they've since become a mainstay of the genre, but Romero seems to be planning something more.
Romero isn't entirely new to comics. In 2004, he penned a DC miniseries... which was also about intelligent zombies who, in that case, take over the world. Now, his series will stand alongside Image's The Walking Dead, whose TV adaptation has launched it from popular comic to multimedia empire. Unfortunately, while some of Romero's work is classic, we'll have to wait until January to see if we'll be getting a bomb like Survival of the Dead instead.