As long-time readers of my site know, I’m a sucker for “last hero standing” type stories so Jonathan Mayberry and Leandro Fernandez’s apocalyptic series is a nice fit for me.
The first story to be released was Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher, showing the end of the cannibalistic plague that destroys the Earth. The second series followed Wolverine at the beginning of the outbreak. This collection focuses on Hawkeye as he and the surviving Avengers do everything they can to stave off the hordes of cannibalistic former heroes and villains that are now just out for lunch.
One problem with this type of format is that a whole lot of the heroes in the Marvel U have already been accounted for. We’ve seen Hulk, Spidey, the Thing, and tons more as cannibals already, so we know Mayberry can’t use them for much in this middle chapter. That’s how folks like the Avengers Academy students end up as regular characters in the backgrounds of most scenes. Black Widow, Deadpool, Dr. Strange, Thor, Iron Fist, Red Hulk, and Dr. Doom all get some time to shine too; but again, we all know how this story has to end, because of what we saw in MU vs. The Punisher.
Mayberry tells a compelling story; one that is hard to put down. I found myself rooting for the surviving heroes even though I knew what was coming. I enjoyed Mayberry’s use of Dr. Doom as such an enormous threat that even the end of the world just might be preferable to working with Doom.
I’m not sure I agree with Mayberry’s understanding of Hawkeye, though. Hawkeye here is a much grittier, angrier character. One who survived all those years on the Avengers by hiding his true nature. That nature is closer to Punisher and Wolverine than I think I prefer. It works in the story, but I wouldn’t want to see “normal” Hawkeye acting like this.
Leandro Fernandez is such a fantastic artist. How he manages to blend such a mix of cartoony, bubbly art with the ultra-violence he’s known for… I don’t know how he does it. His take on Hawkeye’s classic suit gives me pangs of regret that we don’t see it more. I also liked his Black Widow and Iron Fist; it would have been fun to see even more of those characters too.
This is a GOOD story for those who like apocalyptic What If’s, especially if you like the idea of your favorite Marvel heroes eating each other. It won’t be as good to folks who want their stories to count.