Exploring The Multiverse: The Last Avengers Story
It’s been a while since we explored the Multiverse. It’s been so long, I had to look up and see if there was a format to this column that’s not really a column. Of course, there’s not a format, so let’s just get started.
Peter David proposed this story in 1986, but it was shelved. I recall him recounting it in his column in Comics Buyer’s Guide. Then it made its way into print as part of a Marvels Alternaverse line, which would be where “what if? style stories would be printed. It was edited by Carl Potts (source) and saw only a handful of comics to bear the imprint. Ruins was one of the first series, and it was in a format similar to Marvels. This format carried over with Last Avengers Story.
Unofficially, this Earth is designated by marvel.fandom.com as Earth-9511. I would suppose that designation comes from it being released in November 1995.
In this story, Peter David explored the new generation of heroes that were more concerned with fame than with doing what was right. It’s a future where the Avengers were used to round up all of the super-villains, something that forced a few of them into retirement. Some have retreated for other reasons, such as the Wasp’s powers shrinking her permanently by an inch per year.
Quicksilver inadvertently killed his sister, the Scarlet Witch. This drove him to suicide. The tragedy drove the Vision into attempting to disperse his atoms broadly. Their children found themselves on opposite sides. Tommy studying under Stephen Strange, and Billy becoming the new Grim Reaper. This is an aspect that kept it in the realm of an alternate universe, since John Byrne had them wiped from existence as missing parts of Mephisto’s essence.
There was another large event that led to drastic changes. A massive battle lured Thor, Hercules, the Thing and Hulk to another dimension. Only the Hulk returned, beaten and clutching Hercules’ mace. In a later battle, the Hulk turned on the Avengers, killing Tigra and breaking Wonder Man’s skin. Leaking ionic energy, he held onto the Hulk until Mockingbird and Hawkeye could get away, but the explosion blinded the archer.
The Fantastic Four fractured following the Thing’s death. Sue Richards and She-Hulk left Earth, Mr. Fantastic saw his years of stretching lead to needing to use an exoskeleton to do most simple tasks. He spent his time trying to rehabilitate a nearly mindless Doctor Doom. The Human Torch married Alicia Masters and remained active, but his daughter used her powers to sculpt with flame. She-Hulk’s daughter joined the police and helps the Avengers in their last battle.
Ina final battle, Hank Pym died, which drove Ultron to betray Kang. The tide turns when Captain America, believed dead contacts Hawkeye and Mockingbird. It also turns when the Vision joins the battle to destroy Ultron, at the cost of his own life. Other casualties include Hotshot, the son of the Black Knight, who is distracted by preening for news cameras he invited. Bombshell, the daughter of Hercules, fights valiantly despite losing a leg. Cannonball finds himself torn asunder by Kang’s force field. The remaining heroes rest in a victory that cost them heavily. They are amazed by Hawkeye’s confession that Captain America is still alive and recovering.
How Is It In Terms Of Quality?
As far as Alternate Earths go, it doesn’t show a serious point of divergence. It does have moments of sheer tragedy that exist to get to a small, core group of heroes. It’s effects are dictated by the story that Peter David wants to tell. It does have enough changes that it seems fresh. Unfortunately, the characters of Tommy and Billy are footnotes in the history of Marvel Comics. In The Last Avengers Story, they are the core characters, and that really proves a problem.
However, many of the progressions are natural and story elements are used in other “future” tales. Kingdom Come would be published a year later. It would see a scene similar to the Wonder Man/Hulk fight with Captain Atom causing a huge explosion. Reed Richards’ losing a large amount of his elasticity is repeated with some changes in Earth X.
Outside of Cannonball being on the makeshift team, there’s not much mention of the X-Men. Peter David essentially works with Avengers that were around in the late 1980s. Ariel Olivetti does a good job of making the story look special. Since it’s the third Marvel series to be painted, it unfortunately seems like an echo.
Honestly, of the two series that I compared it to, I prefer The Last Avengers Story to Earth X, which I found too long and drawn out. Of course, I don’t think it ranks up there with Kingdom Come, but there’s little else that does. I think it’s worth a read, but not necessarily a must have for your average collection, unless its centered on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.