Can you save an alter universe franchise in order to save it? That's the question posed by this mini-series.
Super-Powered Ninjas are killing off the heroes of the Marvel Mangaverse one by one starting with Doctor Strange and his familiar Tigra. The ninja also attacked Spider-Man and Spider-Woman (AKA Spider-Chan, Mary Jane Watson in this reality) but they were rescued by Peter's old flame The Black Cat who swiped something called a Vortex ring from the body of one of the fallen ninjas. Felicia takes the two to Tony Stark's island, where the brother of the Iron Girl from the original Mangaverse mini-series now lives as a severed head attached to a motorized wheelchair. (And you thought that you had it rough.) The Head That Wouldn't Die then leads the trio to Wolverine who's sleeping in a big glass glowing tube filled with Red Bull energy drink.
Meanwhile Daredevil and the Fantastic Four are battling... you guessed it... Ninjas!
Also in the spirit of this universe I will now add an exciting new feature to this review; YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN! The famous creator of Mobile Suit Gundam, Zambot 3, Aura Battler Dunbine Tomino has a reputation for killing off seemingly sacrosanct characters at the drop of a hat. Perhaps his most over-the-top death scene was the finale of Space Runaway Ideon in which the titular robot is destroyed setting off a chain reaction that blows up the entire universe; leading to a final scene of the characters souls floating about in space watching all creation being reborn. Will this series have enough of a body count to satisfy Tomino's standard? Lets find out. Following the fallout of last issue the series already has a body count tally of 3. (Strange, Tigra, and Captain Marvel)
We fade in to see Daredevil and the Fantastic Four surrounded by three white- clad ninjas plus Elektra. We know that Elektra is evil because she has one of those tatoos on her forehead just like that Dragon Ball Z arc where Vegita sold his soul to Babidy because he thought he was going soft and fought Goku for like half an episode. Things are looking bad as Mr. Fantastic is apparently dead, and The Thing has lost an arm. Also Thing in this art style looks kind of like the poop monster from Dogma.
YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN RAITING: 4
Sue Storm fires off a big energy blast at the ninja but they jump away, even though the attack is invisible. Daredevil advises them to get in close. Daredevil is outraged that someone would be impersonating Elektra but wouldn't you know it it's the real thing. She slices Daredevil wide open. Daredevil unmasks and the two share one last kiss. "You once tried to save my soul." Electra says. "I'm sorry there was never anything worth saving." And with that she decapitates the Sentai Sentai looking Hornhead with her giant sais.
YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN RAITING: 5
Back at Stark HQ Wolverine emerges from the Red Bull Stasis Tube, and there's a bit of concern as if he'll go on a rampage as that's what Wolverine does. Wolverine emerges looks at Mary Jane and says "Thanks Stark, and you remembered I liked red heads." James "Logan" Howlett flirts with Mary Jane which is triply creepy as she's just a kid in this reality, he's old enough to be her great-great-grandfather, and he's naked. Peter rushes in to defend Spider-Chan's honor but is caught off guard to discover that Logan isn't the scrappy little guy he is in the Marvel Universe. Worse yet he has BEAM SABER CLAWS! He seems wickedly amused at the punk kid's attempt at standing up for his girl, but Black Cat convinces him to let go by aiming her foot claws at some place most men would not want to sharp metal claws. "They would have grown back Pussycat." Felicia is equally unimpressed with Logan's flirtatious efforts and proceeds to give Logan a scratch across the chest. This quickly heals as the other heroes Marvel at Wolverine's healing abilities. "Your mutant power is liquid Band-Aid? Peter says. "I've always been a sucker for a girl with a nice set of... CLAWS." Wolverine says making another pass at Felicia. Something about this causes Tony The Head That Wouldn't Die to have a Eureka moment.
We learn that two days ago Wolverine was attacked by something that nearly whipped out his healing factor and killed other mutants. Apparently with apparently this has something to do with the IMPACT BEAM ring that Black Cat retrieved last issue. (Funny I thought it was the Vortex ring that she swiped.) Which as we all know belongs to... The Mandarin. "He named himself after an orange?" Peter asks and is promptly smacked by both of his sidekicks for the lame joke. As it turns out the venerable villain has been rendered quite harmless, and armless by a fatal encounter with some razor sharp claws. "Wasn't me." Wolverine and Black Cat say in unison.
YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN RAITING: 6
As luck has it the X-shaped claw marks on the late Mandarin's chest lead to, former Weapon X alumni Lady Deathstrike who looks like a doll from Angelic Layer in this universe. Wolverine then explains that Lady Deathstrike now works for the Hand. "So the Mandarins hands have fallen into The Hand's hands?" Tony asks. As luck would have it Spidey has a bit of experience dealing with The Hand being a ninja and all. Without warning we hear a deep rumbling sounds Invisible Woman and The Thing smash into the base with a loud BWOOM! Sound. As Ben Grimm alas promptly passes on despite Sue Storms effort to get him to safety. "It's too late!" Sue Storm exclaims.
YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN RAITING: 7
Electra and the ninjas arrive and she poses on Ben's fallen body just to ad insult to injury. Wolverine, Black Cat, and both spiders jump into the fray as Sue Storm helps Tony star make his way over to a chamber where his head is attached to an Iron Man body. It looks cool, but you have to wonder why Tony doesn't use that to get around instead of the wheelchair. He then enters the fight scene knocking a ninja back with chest-fired repulsor blast. Spider-Man and Spider-Women fight one of the ninjas to a standstill until Sue Storm intervenes creating invisible duplicates of Reed and Ben who rip one of the ninjas in half. So apparently her powers work more like an invisible version of Green Lantern's. Though one would think no one but Sue must know exactly what's going on as her constructs are invisible. Unfortunately she's promptly slashed in the back by another ninja.
YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN RAITING: 8
Joanie Storm (?) arrives just in time to see her sister get killed, and responds by barbequing the responsible ninja. Of for the record only name heroes and villains count in Yushiyuki Tomino's Body Count Of Fun, ninjas don't. Electra manages to injury wolverine with a slice to the back. She and two of the ninjas manage to escape. Tony theorizes that the ninjas were in fact a decoy while Electra went after the real goal; stealing Captain America's shield. We see her presenting the shield to a trio of villains: Silver Samurai, Sunfire, and Lady Deathstrike. In the background lay a wall filled with trophies from six other possibly fallen heroes: including Thor's Hammer, Black Panther's Tribal Necklace, and Ant Man's bass guitar. Really...
YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN RAITING: 8-14? (UNRESOLVED)
Some nice fight scenes and a few funny bits, but just way too dark for my taste. I could have lived without all of the Tomino-style Body Count. Still no idea exactly who this book is aimed for or how I'm supposed to feel about all the character deaths. My best guess is that they thought adding some over the top Tomino-esc violence would be the best way to introduce hardened American readers might consider the art style to be too "kiddy." The problem with that approach is that Tomino used dozen of episodes to introduce us readers to characters in order to get people attached to them before killing them off. This book seems to be offing the cast as soon as they're introduced which means if you never read the original Mangaverse you really have no reason to care. And if you liked the Mangaverse well... you're kinda hosed because characters you like are dieing left and right.
Good art, some nice fight scenes, and a few funny moments... but not enough to recommend.
Tune in next time as we further keep tabs on YUSHIYUKI TOMINO'S BODY COUNT O' FUN!