is a 6-issue mini-series (August, 2004-January, 2005). It was co-written by Matt Cherniss and Peter Johnson. The art was done by Michael Gaydos. The setting in a nutshell is a re-imagining of the whole Marvel Universe
, with a twist consisting of - well, the lack of any superpowers at all.
This may be mistaken as both inverting and playing the Recycled In Space
trope straight, but there's more than that. Let's just say it turns out to be a Genre Shift
from your usual Super Hero
comic to some kind of thriller.
People such as Matt Murdock
, Peter Parker
, Frank Castle
, Bruce Banner
and the like are all connected to their therapist, doctor William Watts: after he awakens from a three-day coma spent dreaming of the main Marvel universe, Watts begins even hallucinating said people's Earth-616 analogues as soon as their name is mentioned
In this universe, when Peter Parker isn't bullied by a Jerk Jock
, he's threatened by Norman Osborn simply for working for Tony Stark
instead. And instead of getting superpowers, the spider-bite only made his right arm almost useless.
In this universe, Logan... well... has the same problems as usual.
In this universe, Matt Murdock is a blind, yet brilliant attorney, whose struggle against Wilson Fisk seems to be Unwinnable
due to the latter having blackmailed a Mis-blamed
Frank Castle into admitting a crime he didn't commit, in order to get away with it. A particularly traumatic experience
is only the first price the man will pay for doing his job.
In this universe, Bruce Banner is simply held captive in an asylum due to... well, you know
Essentially, this is what would happen if Christopher Nolan
were to reimagine the Marvel Universe in the vein of The Dark Knight Saga
See also "Bullet Points
" for a series that similarly turns the Marvel Universe
on its head, and as such, for example, in Italy got reprinted together with Powerless in a single book. The Noir
books also tread a lot of the same ground, but transfer the setting to the 1930s.
Please be sure to add tropes with spoilers, all ye Tropers who browse.
- Badass Normal: Logan, of course. Hell, he even has what may presumably be considered the only artificial superpower of this universe, that is, Wolverine Claws. Also, Frank Castle fits the trope when he becomes The Punisher.
- Butt Monkey: While, for once, Peter Parker comes out of the crap he's been put through pretty well, Matt Murdock isn't so lucky.
- Cassandra Truth: Gwen just won't believe Peter about Osborn's blackmailing.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Referenced by Peter, when he tells Watts about something his uncle Ben said before dying.
- Crapsack World: This series shows very well what living in the same city where either Osborn or Fisk, in a real world without superpowers, is like. But with this being the Marvel Universe, this is a given.
- Elseworld: No duh.
- Demoted to Extra: Reed and Susan Richards, the prison inmates (see Mythology Gag below), Stephen Strange, Henry Pym, Emma Frost, and to a lesser extent, Bruce Banner.
- Disney Villain Death: in a truly satisfying fashion, this time is Norman Osborn the one who suffers Gwen Stacy's fate. The trope alone, however, is subverted in that you get to see the outcome.
- In Spite of a Nail: Even in a universe without superpowers, Wolverine is still Weapon X and Frank Castle still becomes the Punisher.
- Heroic BSOD: Poor Watts, when he saw the headlines announcing Matt Murdock's assassination, he didn't take it well. Doubles as Oh, Crap.
- Important Haircut: Not as much as ain Important Mustachecut, but there you go. That's how Watts becomes a carbon copy of the watcher (as noted below, see "The Watcher"), thus ending the series.
- Karma Houdini: Wilson Fisk, obviously. Until he has to "consider himself punished".
- Kick the Dog: Wilson Fisk does this to a Mis-blamed Frank Castle, but beware...
- Killed Off for Real: By the end of the miniseries, the body count is as follows: Matt Murdock and Karen Page, Wilson Fisk, Norman Osborn, and heavily implied with Eric Magnus and Mystique.
- Lampshade Hanging: Of a Mythology Gag - when leaving Peter alone, fellow scientist Curt Connors says he has to do experiments with reptiles, about which he comments, "Don't ask".
- Miscarriage of Justice: Frank Castle, very nearly.
- Mythology Gag: All over the place. This trope gets pulled off best when a panel shows a shot of various super-villains (another superimposed hallucination of Watts) and the next one shows their Powerless counterparts, who are simple jailbirds.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Poor Matt Murdock, he didn't survive that one.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Frank Castle's "Consider yourself punished." line, and also Logan when he tells Eric Magnus, "but I was looking forward to meet you."
- Red Right Hand: A whole right arm at that, but still, Peter Parker's epic Butt Monkey status has reached even this universe, this time with the spider not only giving him problems as usual, but even weakening him instead of giving him superpowers. Poor boy, you'll just want to hug him.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Fisk shamelessly teases Matt Murdock with photos depicting his Old Shame - namely, Matt doing drugs - right before killing him.
- Shout-Out: Too many to count - but they're more like a certain similar trope you can see above.
- Title Drop: As remarked by Watts in the very last panel of the whole series, "Sometimes we're just powerless".
- V-Formation Team Shot: The cover of the first issue, as shown above.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Wilson Fisk, to the point of having the balls to give Matt Murdock, whom he killed without any regret an eulogy.
- The Watcher: Quite fittingly, the audience discovers that Watts is an alternate version of The Watcher when he looks in the mirror.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Iron Man suit.
- Whoopi Epiphany Speech: Referenced by Peter Parker when he asks Watts one.
- Wolverine Claws: The only superpower still existing in this universe. That, and the Iron Man suit (if it will ever be completed).
- You Can't Fight Fate: Matt Murdock; averted with Peter Parker and Logan.