The Marvel Mangaverse, Where the Punisher is a Kinky Vigilante Geisha

The Other Steve
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Intro

Sometimes you get a good idea that gets ruined by the execution. For instance, the Marvel Mangaverse.

In the year 2000, Marvel Comics was trying to figure out how to cash in on the anime and manga boom. Someone came up with a pretty good idea: take Marvel's stable of characters and “japanify” them. Right off the bat, this is a concept that had a lot of potential. You create an “East-meets-West” sort of universe that applies the unique tropes and style of Manga to some of the most recognizable characters in Western comics.

The end result...left something to be desired. While the artwork is Animesque, the design philosophy for the Mangaverse seems to have been “take every single Japanese stereotype we can think of and cram it in, regardless of how much sense it makes or how well it fits with the characters”. For example, the Incredible Hulk is a Godzilla-sized monster. I'm reasonably certain that the big lizard's got little to nothing to do with manga. It doesn't help that the writing and continuity across the various comics are pretty spotty. Today, the Mangaverse has been abandoned by Marvel, which now tries different methods of appealing to the anime crowds, most recently by partnering with Madhouse to make various Marvel anime series.

Nonetheless, the Mangaverse was a moderate success. It started off as a Fifth Week Event made up of eight one-shots. Six of them focused on a specific corner of the Mangaverse, while the other two, New Dawn and Eternity Twilight, told a connected story that book-ended the event. These one-shots were:

-Avengers Assemble: Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Hawkeye become Super Sentai, get an Iron Man Megazord, and fight the dark forces of Rita Apocalypseulsa.

-Fantastic Four: Take the Fantastic Four, turn them into ersatzes of the cast of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and have four of them beat up the Monster of the Week while Reed Richards yells at them from a comfy control room.

-Ghost Riders: I'm kind of at a loss to describe this one, but the phrase that immeadietly comes to mind is this: Ghost Rider meets Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Despite my never having seen Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

-Punisher: One of the grimmest, grittiest comic book characters out there is replaced by a kinky vigilante geisha that fights crime with spankings and whips. Some things you cannot make up.

-Spider-Man: Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man...as a ninja! Because that's Japanese!

-X-Men: The X-Men arbitrarily mixed with martial arts tropes and demon summoning. Because demon summoning is a widely-beloved aspect of Japanese culture. Also, Colossus is a sumo wrestler.

The event did well enough that the Mangaverse gained a short-lived ongoing series, while the Mangaverse Spider-Man and X-Men gained miniseries. After a three year lull, another Mangaverse miniseries called New Mangaverse was released to act as a revival. It chose to bring new life to the setting by...killing of a good chunk of the cast. Not sure what the logic was there.

We're going to be going through all of the one-shots and various series. I should mention that there was a Marvel MAX miniseries starring the Mangaverse Phoenix and a short story about the Mangaverse Hulk released in a Hulk anthology book. I will not be covering the Phoenix series, simply because it's an American hentai comic. I might review the Hulk story, but I haven't decided yet. (Mostly because I had planned to review the comics collected in the Mangaverse trades, and that story wasn't.)

Hope you enjoy the ride.

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