Comicbook / Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher

A terrible plague has swept the Earth, turning everyone human, hero, villain, god and monster into sadistic cannibal predators. As Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Thing and other infected start a feeding frenzy, the world falls in a wave of insatiable violence. Now, five years later, one man hunts the wasteland that was New York City. One man stands against the hordes of monsters who hunt the night. He is the Punisher, the Last Gun on Earth, and he has an endless supply of ammunition.

Marvel Universe vs. the Punisher is a four-issue miniseries by Jonathan Maberry and Goran Parlov, set in an alternate universe where an accidental bio-weapon spill has mutated almost every major Marvel character with the notable exception of Frank Castle. In an effort to make up for having caused that spill, Castle hunts the former heroes and villains throughout what used to be New York City.

The original miniseries was followed by a prequel, Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine. Set during the original outbreak, it follows Logan and a handful of other surviving heroes as they do their best to survive against overwhelming odds. Unfortunately for Wolverine, as we know from the original series, there's one big obstacle in their way. His name is the Hulk.

A third volume began in October of 2012, The Marvel Universe vs. the Avengers. It's primarily focused on Hawkeye, who manages to survive when the other heroes and villains are falling all around him, and ends where Punisher begins.

Not to be confused with the 1995 one-shot comic, The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, by Garth Ennis and Doug Braithwaite.

Provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: Right as he's infected, Iron Man's suit malfunctions, trapping him in a stationary pose for the rest of his life. And yes, the last time we see him alive, he is screaming.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: The Hulk goes down very easily in Punisher (via Wolverine's claw on an arrow through the brain) considering how difficult the first fight was in Wolverine.
  • Anti-Hero: The Punisher, as usual.
  • After the End: Earth is devastated by a plague that turned people into cannibalistic, savage mutants. What is left of the world are the infected gathering into warring tribes while the few handfuls of uninfected humans are prey.
  • Apocalypse How: New York City is a depopulated hellhole, occupied by cannibal mutants, the very occasional uninfected survivor, and Frank Castle. It is heavily implied that the plague has spread everywhere else in the world as well. The handful of surviving super heroes and scientists who escaped the city, however, have successfully evacuated to a hidden base in Antarctica, where they're working on a cure, and more survivors arrive at their facility every day. The world could conceivably rebuild.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Used on the fourth cover of the original miniseries, with some additional Leg Cling.
  • Blood Knight: Frank Castle, naturally. At the story's end, rather than leave Manhattan with the uninfected humans he rescues, he stays to continue hunting the infected.
  • Butt-Monkey: Deadpool. Just about every hero shoots or hits him, if only to make him shut up.
  • Devil, but No God: Quoted by Frank Castle: "See a lot of Hell, padre. Hard to build any kind of case for Heaven."
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Everything seems to be going fine for Hawkeye, and then an infected Thor comes out of nowhere and crushes his head.
  • Downer Ending: Frank Castle refuses transport out of Manhattan, in order to remain behind and continue killing off the infectees. Although for him, that might be a happy ending.
    • Hawkeye kills the infected Doctor Doom, and in the middle of his tense internal monologue about how he's the last Avenger, his skull is crushed by an infected Thor.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The cannibals are split into tribes that oppose each other.
  • Eye Scream: Frank takes out the Hulk with an arrow to the eye.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The virus was engineered to allow people to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment... and ended up creating one.
  • Hate Plague: The virus turn people to lose their higher reasoning functions and becoming predatory human beings.
  • Hope Spot: Logan, Reed, and T'Challa have successfully evacuated to a facility in the Antarctic, where they work on a cure to the plague. Logan's arm did in fact grow back.
  • Horror Hunger: "Meat" is just about the only thing the infected can say.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Doom claims his Magitek Doomstones have prevented the plague from taking hold of Latveria, and he will share it with hte rest of the world... if they acknowledge him as their ruler. They don't cure anything and he's already infected- the stones allow Doom to control the level of rage felt by the infected.
  • Lucky Translation: The French version has Deadpool make a torturous pun on "hero sandwich" work by referring to panini instead (the name of the company that publishes Marvel comics in France, and a different type of sandwich).
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Castle executes Captain America, at his request, just before Cap succumbs to the plague.
    • Sue Storm does this to her children by choking them with forcefields.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Frank accidentally caused the outbreak when he ambushed and killed Russian mobsters trying to sell the virus. He didn't know that the idiots were in fact carrying the virus in vials in their own pockets.
  • One-Man Army: Just like his mainstream counterpart, Frank has been fighting hordes of mutant cannibals, and especially from the superhuman types, by himself after civilization fell.
  • The Immune:
    • Castle got a super-dose of the original bio-weapon that caused the plague, so he's completely immune to it.
    • Characters with healing factors, like the Hulks, Wolverine and Deadpool, can feel the infection in their systems, but can also opt to ignore it if they exercise enough willpower.
    • Hawkeye simply does not catch the plague. He believes himself immune for some reason, but never finds out why.
  • Leg Cling:
    • Mary Jane Watson to the Punisher in the cover like you can see.
    • The Thing is seen to do this with two superheroines before Frank blows up his lair.
  • Offing the Mouth: Deadpool is forever getting shot by people who just want him to shut up.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Fisk has basically become this, complete with blunt tusks.
  • Patient Zero: Spider-Man was the first infected superhero. His infection alerted the scientific community about the virus, which had already infected countless other people beforehand.
  • The Plague: A terrible plague has swept the Earth, turning everyone human, hero, villain, god and monster into sadistic cannibal predators.
  • Preacher Man: Frank finds one hiding in a church basement along with a young kid. He tries to convince Frank to leave Manhattan and his life of hunting zombies.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Frank mentions that Thor killed Ares and Hercules before leaving.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Hawkeye, the last uninfected Avenger, kills Dr Doom and swears to honour his fallen comrades... just before an infected Thor arrives and crushes his head.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The plague in this alternate reality is a lot more like some kind of hell-blend between the Crossed and Plagas infection. Higher brain functions take a hike and all victims devolve into members of cannibalistic, tribal societies, although are still highly intelligent.
  • Those Who Fight Monsters: Frank's obsession on hunting down the cannibals is not so different from how the cannibals hunt the uninfected. Frank, unsurprisingly, is all too aware of this.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The priest's reactions over Frank killing Spider-Man after the latter kept his promise of helping the uninfected. Castle bluntly answer that he doesn't deal with monsters.
    Priest: For the love of God—why?
    Frank: I don't make deals with monsters.
    Priest: (scornfully) I see only one monster.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Jonathan Maberry has said that the inspiration for the series comes from George Romero's The Crazies (1973) and Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend.
  • Why Won't You Die?: If Deadpool was hard enough to get rid of before, it's damn near impossible now. Frank mentions killing him 33 times.
  • The Worf Effect: In the prequel, Hulk and Wolverine have a drawn-out battle that ends with Wolverine getting a hand ripped off. Frank just shoots Hulk in the eye with an arrow (the arrowhead is the tip of one of Logan's severed claws though).
    • Likewise, in Marvel Universe vs the Avengers, Hawkeye kills Dr Doom — the MU's most dangerous and formidable villain — in the same way.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Inverted, Frank made a deal with Zero (Zombie Spider-Man) to leave the uninfected alone if he took out Fisk and rescued MJ. After Zero and MJ and reunited, Frank shoots Zero in the head.