Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe #1: Review

Jul 1989
Fred Hembeck, Fred Hembeck

Story Name:

Fred Hembeck Destroys The Marvel Universe

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe #1 Review by (November 29, 2012)
Review: Goofy little tale is perfect for Fred Hembeck fans and anyone who secretly hates Marvel. Chock full of now-dated topical references (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, really?) and puns (Uncle’s Ben’s Converted Rice at the end, gang), this would appeal more to the Baby Boomers among the readership. PS if you want to see the same happen to the DC Earths, pick up WORLD’S FUNNEST, wherein a feud between Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite lays waste that universe in a more apocalyptic fashion.

Comments: The tortured history of this notorious one-shot joke comic can be found on Fred Hembeck’s web page. Short version: Originally entitled JIM SHOOTER DESTROYS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, it posited that Marvel editor Shooter was secretly hypnotized by rival DC into wiping out Marvel’s popular properties. The project was bounced around, put on the back burner, fought over, and, after Shooter left Marvel, revised into the present version. Hembeck’s site also includes the artwork for the original Shooter version. Vince Colletta was the inker and Steve Mellor colorist for the original version; Joe Staton inked and Gregory Wright colored the new framing material. The back cover features the cartoon “The Marvel Universe Destroys Fred Hembeck”

Characters (Cameos): Thor, Wolverine, Sandman, Cyclops, Angle, Magneto, Warriors Three, Black Cat, Black Knight, Black Panther, Black Widow, AIM, Hawkeye, Fly, Blob, Wonder Man, Bullseye, Guardsman, Sting Ray, Texas Twister, Paladin, Blue Shield, Doctor Octopus, Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture, Lizard, Toad, Owl, Leader, Jack of Hearts, Diablo, Northstar, Dr. Strange, Guardian, Hyperion, Cannonball, Impossible Man, Nova, Ringmaster, Tigra, Sunfire, Moondragon, Havok, Storm, Colossus, Rogue, Ariel, Nightcrawler, Sentinels.

Characters (Speaking roles): Fred Hembeck, Punisher, Death, Spider-Man, Beast, Ant-Man, Water Wizard, Loki, Captain Marvel Girl, Daredevil, Dazzler, Thanos, J. Jonah Jameson, Captain America, Black Bolt, She-Hulk, Hydra, Gargoyle, Doc Samson, Hellcat, Iron Man (JR), Tony Stark, Nightmare, Juggernaut, Kingpin, Hulk, Doctor Doom, Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Thing, Human Torch, Iron Fist, Power Man, Sub-Mariner, Zzzax, Uncle Ben, Stan Lee.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Cartoonist Fred Hembeck, sitting derelict in an alley, blames it on having accepted the assignment to write and draw a comic destroying the Marvel Universe; in the end it was revealed to be the scheme of a villain and Fred found himself unemployable. At least, he reasons, things couldn’t get any worse…. Then the Punisher shows up, preparing to execute him for his crime. As Fred pleads for mercy, Punisher begins to read the offending story….

Crackers, Crown Prince of Death, has been assigned to kill all the super-powered beings in the Marvel Universe. He starts alphabetically, popping Ant-Man in a microwave, destroying Asgard with Loki’s Ragnarok-and-roll band, visiting the Black Plague on all the black-themed characters (Panther, Widow, etc.), and absorbing Captain Marvel (Photon) into a rerun of THREE’S COMPANY. Daredevil is killed by a sai in a parody of an old Jack Benny sketch, and Dazzler is crushed by the petrified Thanos. At the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson is in a tizzy over the constant reports of the deaths of superheroes but stops to luxuriate in the moment when he hears that Spider-Man has met his end…. Spidey awakens in the Beyond, where Captain America tries to get him to accept his fate. Meanwhile, Crackers continues his mission, passing over the drunken Tony Stark since he is no longer Iron Man at this time (though he should be along soon enough), betraying Nightmare into killing Dr. Strange for him, and luring Juggernaut and Kingpin into canoes so that they sink in a lake and drown. He challenges Hulk to a fight and easily defeats him, has Doctor Doom reveal to the Fantastic Four that he is really Reed’s father—then drops a giant rock on the family (killing five birds with one literal stone). Back in the Beyond, as the Guardian Angels are being reassigned, the dead heroes all meet to decide on a plan; Reed Richards concludes that they must appeal to a Higher Power, namely the Cartoonist, and dispatches a special envoy…. Crackers X-ecutes the X-Men by sending in ninja Sentinels and switches the minds of Sub-Mariner and Zzzax so that they both die when they enter the other’s element. He ends his mission with a cute little song-and-dance….

Back in the alley, Punisher is interrupted by the dead heroes’ emissary, who turns out to be Peter’s Uncle Ben—the first death in the Marvel Universe. Uncle Ben converts Fred to his view that meaningless deaths should not occur in comics, and asks the Punisher to show mercy. Fred admits that the villainous executive who hired him had been punished and that he was paid a "kill fee" for his unused work. Punisher unmasks as Stan Lee and reveals that he approached Fred in disguise to uncover the truth; now that he is assured that Fred’s heart was in the right place, he absolves him of all guilt, tossing the comic story in the trash. After they leave, Crackers fishes the discarded artwork out of the trash and carries it off to be published….

Fred Hembeck
Joe Staton
Gregory Wright
Fred Hembeck (Cover Penciler)
Vince Colletta (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Matt Murdock)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Frank Castle)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Ben Parker (Uncle Ben), Fred Hembeck, Iron Man (James Rhodes), Stan Lee.

> Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe: Book info and issue index

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