Regarding the Zombie's religious classification as "Vodoun" (i.e., "Voodoo"), John McDonagh wrote to us (13 March 2006):
From: "The Zombie (Simon Garth)" page on "The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe" website, last updated 06/11/05 (http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix2/zombiegarth.htm; viewed 20 April 2006):
Real Name: Simon William Garth
Identity/Class: Human, zombie
Occupation: Servant of those who wield the Amulets of Damballah; former president and founder of Garwood Industries, maker of Garth Manor coffee
Legal Status: Citizen of the U.S.A., legally dead
First Appearance: Menace #5 (July, 1953); (retold:) Tales of the Zombie #1 (August, 1973)
Powers/Abilities: As a zombie, Garth possesses certain supernatural abilities derived from the loa (voodoo spirits). Unlike most zombies, for some reason (perhaps due to the spell of Layla) his spirit never fully left his body at death. He was aware of his surroundings; when no one held the Amulet of Damballah, he was free to act on his own. The person holding the Amulet of Damballah controls his actions, but has at times he has been able to exhibit his human persona and take control of his own actions. He has even spoken on occasion.
However, his spirit may have passed on after he was laid to rest by Papa Doc.
The Zombie possesses enhanced strength (he can lift 1200 lbs.), can quickly regenerate from even extensive injuries, does not need to breathe or eat, and cannot feel physical pain. The use of a devil-doll or voodoo doll has been shown to be able to cause him incapacitating agony. There is no evidence that Simon Garth had to consume human flesh to maintain his existence as a zombie.
The Zombie cannot smell, taste, or feel. He can see and hear, but these are magical senses, rather than a function of his nervous system.
During his human lifetime, Garth was fiercely driven and a control freak, though he possessed a violent temper.
Tales of the Zombie #9 (fb) - BTS - Simon Garth was a hero in an unspecified war.
Tales of the Zombie #9 (fb) - Simon married Miranda.
Tales of the Zombie #1 (fb) - [25 years before the main story] - Simon Garth and Brian Stockwood became business partners, eventually forming Garwood Industries, the largest coffee distributor in the South via Garth Manor Coffee.
Tales of the Zombie #9 (fb) - Simon's intense desire to succeed financially led to strife at home.
Tales of the Zombie #2 (fb) - BTS - Simon Garth was longtime friends with Anton Cartier in Haiti.
Tales of the Zombie #9 (fb) - [10-12 years before #1] - After many public displays of violence, Miranda walked out on Simon Garth. They had a quiet divorce.
Tales of the Zombie #2 (fb) - Simon Garth brought his daughter, Donna, to Haiti, where he had his agent, Hackman, explain how they paid musicians to play along the field workers, as it markedly improved their productivity.
Tales of the Zombie #1 (fb) - After forbidding Donna from hanging out with one of her friends (a hippie!), Garth chastised his gardener Gyps for his slow work, telling him to sharpen his shears. His day at work consisted of him berating his partner and staff for a reluctance to increase production as the workers were already overextended. He returned home to find Gyps harassing Donna after catching her skinny-dipping; Garth savagely attacked Gyps, beating him, firing him, and throwing him off the grounds. However, a few hours later, as Garth left for a dinner party, Gyps ambushed him, smashing a bottle over his head and taking him out into the bayou where a "red sect" of voodoo practitioners planned a human sacrifice. The priestess of the ritual was Layla, Garth's secretary, who had fallen in love with, and she promised him that he would not die by her hand.
Tales of the Zombie #1) - Layla pretended to be performing the sacrifice, but then suddenly cut Garth's restraints, allowing him to flee into the swamp. However, Gyps caught up to him and slew him with his shears (which he had indeed sharpened). Feeling cheated nonetheless with Garth's quick death, Gyps threatened to kill Layla unless she performed the ritual to transform Garth into a zombie. Upon digging out of his fresh grave, Garth went on a rampage, until one of the cultists threw one of the Amulets of Damballah around the Zombie's neck, giving its twin to Gyps, allowing him to control Garth.
Menace #5/Tales of the Zombie #1/2) - Gyps sent Garth into town to steal some money for him. He killed and began robbing a man, but was caught in the act by a policeman. Rather than risk captured, the Zombie fled back to Gyps who whipped him for his failure until realizing the whipping bothered Garth in the least. Gyps then sent the Zombie to scare Donna Garth, intending to pretend to rescue her, hoping to earn her favor. The Zombie approached Donna, but upon seeing her he managed to throw off Gyps control, returning to his shack and killing his former master before returning to his bayou grave.
[Page features extensive additional detail not excerpted here.]