Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Marville

Go To

"Before I can be a hero, I have to figure out what's right and what's wrong. We need to figure out the meaning of life. Where it all started and where we're all going."
Kal-AOL Turner, Marville #2

A parody comic created in 2002 by Marvel Comics editor and president Bill Jemas, as a bet between him, Ron Zimmerman, and Peter David on who could make a better-selling comic, which was known as the "U-Decide" event.

Kal-AOL Turner, son of Ted Turner from the year 5002, is transported into the present day. Believing himself to be a superhero, Kal-AOL meets up with Mickey (who nicknames him "Al") and Lucy. And crosses paths with Spike Lee and Rush Limbaugh. The first books are also filled with attempts at parody and topical humor.

Then it takes a turn for the philosophical when they all go back in time and meet God, who is actually a black man named Jack. After that, they watch the evolution of the world, and discover that dinosaurs talked with Jewish mannerisms, and Wolverine is the first human, evolved from an otter.

The comic ran for seven issues in 2002-2003, and was reviewed by Linkara in Atop the Fourth Wall.

Tropes present:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Batman, Iron Man, and Black Panther are considerably more dickish than their main counterparts, being psychotic, murderous assholes who openly abuse the lower classes for fun (pretty much the diametric opposite of their usual selves).
  • All Men Are Perverts: Al discovers he doesn't have X-Ray Vision by trying to look at a woman's underwear through her clothes.
  • And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt: Al complains that "[he comes] all the way from the future, and all [he has] to show is this stupid shirt".
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Issue #4 plays this claim entirely straight, stating that only humans kill members of their own species, and the duckbilled dinosaur expressing shock at that they kill their own kind.
  • Art Shift: Issue #3, that ditches thought balloons in lieu of text running in the borders of the comic. Then #5 eschews art of any kind and has text on a blue background for two pages.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The comic's semi-realistic art style make the moments of Toon Physics come off as pretty jarring.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Issues #3 to #5 are loaded with scientific inaccuracies, to the point where you'd very likely be faster off making a list of things that are accurate. Special award to carbon dioxide molecules being alive.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Hadrosaurs and velociraptors, aside from being drawn in an anatomically inaccurate way, are shown living at the same time as one another in the Jurassic period, which is untrue. Even more inaccurately, they are said to be inhabiting what will eventually become the northern United States, even though no dinosaurs were ever discovered to have inhabited that particular area. Otters are also shown living in the late Cretaceous period (they didn't show up until well after the dinosaurs went extinct), Al refers to pterosaurs as dinosaurs that live in the water, and crossing over with a biological goof, Jack explains that dinosaurs can't be warm-blooded because of their spine movements. Also, the dinosaurs can talk. In reality, dinosaurs don't talk, and Bill Jemas is a gullible dingus.
  • Artistic License – Religion: When Al and Lucy discuss the literal appearance of God, Lucy claims that the Grandpa God laid before her "looks exactly like he does in the Bible", specifically describing him with "a flowing white beard and a wise Caucasian brow". Putting aside race theory, The Bible does not describe His appearance as being anything tangible beyond being too extreme for mortals, with the Grandpa God visual being a distinctly revisionist interpretation.
  • Author Filibuster: The series infamously shifts away from satirical comedy into this during issue #3. While there is still plenty of weirdness to go around, it ends up turning into a mouthpiece for Bill Jemas' beliefs on creationism, evolution, science, and mankind in general for extended passages.
  • Author Tract: Even before the series went cosmic, Bill Jemas was not subtle about his political beliefs. In the first two issues, Ted Turner is a doofus, Spike Lee is the Kingpin of Crime, Rush Limbaugh a fit superhero with tons of fans (albeit said fans are portrayed as cheering on his farts, so it's not as if the other side is totally free of mockery), and charity, political correctness, and liberalism are mocked. Once the series does get philosophical, it claims that intelligent design is real, the theory of evolution is decried as short-sighted and stupid (and Jack directly insults scientists and paleontologists), and God and the first humans were white (Lucy even specifically refers to God as Caucasian, "like he appears in the Bible").
  • Behind the Black: During issue #2, the cast and Spider-Man track down the Kingpin's lair to an abandoned bowling alley. Lucy asks him if this is really the place, and the next panel pulls out to reveal a gigantic skyscraper behind the bowling alley with "KINGPIN HEADQUARTERS" on the side. However, this leads to a blooper as the previous panel had not showed the roof of the bowling alley and above, showing that there was nothing behind it until the next panel.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Mishbucha is a Hebrew noun that means "family", which means the talking dinosaurs are Jewish.
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: Once Jack strips down to skinny dip, the women react that he's "like an African fertility God".
  • Broken Aesop: As much as the comic skewers left-wing viewpoints, Al's story is clumsily rooted in socialism, if not communism. He arrives in the past with no money, no skills, and no personal identification, gets by at first due to the charity and help of others who take pity on him, and becomes rich through what is basically government handouts for doing nothing. Additionally, he claims that in the future society of 5002 everything on Earth is owned and run by AOL and no one has any personal possessions, yet the future is shown to be a rather idyllic advanced utopia (and Al claims that crime has been eradicated if only because no one has any personal possessions to steal anymore).
  • Cerebus Syndrome: It went from a "parody" of superhero comics with social satire, to a philosophical comic about life, the universe, and everything after the first two issues. Amusingly, in contrast to most examples of the trope, it results in the comic becoming even weirder and perhaps even more absurd than when it was framing itself to be a straight comedy.
  • Chair Reveal: The Kingpin does this at the end of his crime speech...who is then revealed to be Spike Lee.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Al's dog AOLstro doesn't appear after the third issue. While it could be assumed that the humans simply didn't take the dog with them on their time travel adventure, he doesn't appear in the opening pages that take place in the present either.
  • Colony Drop: It opens with a meteor shower on Earth in the year 5002. One of the stones is cut by Ted Turner with a Tomahawk Chopnote .
  • Confirmation Bias: invoked Al and Lucy believe that God created everything, or at least set it in motion, because the conditions for life to evolve on Earth are just right. Mickey points out that across billions of gallons of water across the entire planet across millions of years, sooner or later the right chemical reaction to form the first biological life would happen due to random chance. But given that she is being presented as a Straw Character, the characters insist this is just too perfect to be random chance, so it must be the work of God.
  • Covers Always Lie: Most of the covers feature cheesecake shots of a redhead who never actually appears in the comic. Issue #1 also had an alternate cover with mechas.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: During Issue #2, Rush Limbaugh shows up and zaps some Captain Ersatzes of Batman, Iron Man, and Black Panther to smithereens.
  • Death by Origin Story: Zig Zagged with Al's dog, AOLstro. At first, Al's failure to stop a bank robber appeared to have led to AOLstro's death, but it turns out the robber slipped on AOLstro's drool. Later, when Al and Mickey go to the movies, a mugger apparently shot AOLstro in an alley, but it turned out AOLstro knocked him out by farting.
  • Dirty Harriet: Lucy does this in her introductory issue.
  • Disproportionate Reward: Al is given $200 million by the police when his dog inadvertently stops a bank robber and a back-alley mugger (heavily implied to be the same person).
  • Divine Race Lift: God takes on the form of a black man.
  • Dominatrix: Lucy suddenly becomes one during one criminal's rather confusing trip through the justice system in Issue #2.
  • Dramatic Irony: A meta-textual example, and almost certainly unintended given the comic's other factual errors. The comics portray Ted Turner as wealthy and powerful due to selling Time Warner to AOL. In the real world, Ted Turner was strongly against the sale, and when the merged company's stock collapsed after it went through, he lost billions.
  • Evolutionary Levels: The "biological clock", where a vat of water is shown across time to have its microorganisms evolve into a fish, an amphibian, and then a duckbilled dinosaur. And later, Wolverine as an early human.
  • Fanservice: The covers are always covered with a woman barely wearing anything and Issue #3 has all the characters go skinny dipping.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: God is seen by Mickey and Al in different forms (a Grandpa God for the former and a lawyer-friendly Superman expy for the latter), before eventually settling on a young African American man.
  • Friendly War: It seems like at the beginning of mankind the origins of war was originally just to fight and have a good time.
  • Genre Roulette: "Parody" > Going Cosmic Philosophizing > Pre Historia Adventure/Philosophizing > How We Got Here Recap Episode finale with post-modern Framing Device > submission guide for now-defunct comic line.
  • God Was My Copilot: But isn't omnipotent and requires a time travel machine from the year 5002.
  • Going Cosmic: The first two issues are a parody of DC and Marvel comics and their creators. Issues #3-#5 are a philosophical journey through the history of life on Earth, with God as tour guide.
  • Grandpa God: God first appears to Al and Lucy as different forms they are comfortable with, and this is how Lucy interprets him to be.
  • Hard on Soft Science: Anthropologists and archaeologists are repeatedly mocked and ridiculed as know-it-all losers, their theories dismissed as baseless conjecture.
  • Idiot Hero: Al, who in the first two episodes barely understands the world and only does heroic actions by accident.
  • Implied Love Interest: The recaps in Issues #2 and #3 claim that Al "falls in love with Mickey, but it's a one-way street." Nothing in the actual comic suggests any romance between the two.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • Ted Turner trying to convince bystanders to save the world from a meteor shower by Tomahawk Chopping the meteorites (as mentioned in the Colony Drop example above). One man calls him out on this, but only because it'd be offensive to Native Americans.
    • Al, for some reason, believed he gained superpowers from being sent back in time. Mickey repeatedly has to remind him that he does not have any powers.
  • In Name Only:
    • Issue #7 has nothing to do with the rest of the series, and is instead an advertisement and pamphlet explaining "Epic Comics" and its intention.
    • Wolverine's portrayal in issue five is also this; the characters repeatedly call him Wolverine, and he randomly spouts off some of Logan's catchphrases, but he doesn't look or act like Wolverine at all, and he has a completely different backstory (being the first human and having evolved from an otter), making the resemblance an Informed Attribute at best.
  • Ironic Echo: While saving a theater ticket scalper from the thief, Al says he's defending the scalper despite him being a criminal as well "For truth, justice, and the American way". The scalper is... er, not appreciative.
    Scalper: [The tickets] will cost you $500 for two tickets and I'm losing money on the deal.
    Mickey: That's not the truth.
    Al: I saved your life and you're ripping us off?
    Mickey: That's not justice.
    Scalper: Let's just call it the American way.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-In-This-Comic: The scantily-clad redhead who appears on the covers (aside from the Smallville and Transformers parody alternate covers for issue 1, and the Wolverine alternate cover for issue 5). Though it's possible she's supposed to be Mickey, due to one of the covers featuring her in a taxi cab.
  • Magical Negro: In the form of Jack, aka God.
  • Neon Sign Hideout: The Kingpin of Crime's lair is a gigantic skyscraper with "KINGPIN HEADQUARTERS" written on the side.
  • Nice Guy: Spider-Man, the only superhero who appears in issue #2 that's not portrayed as a jerk or a murderer, is introduced helping an old lady cross the street.
  • 90% of Your Brain: Used verbatim to prove that Humans Are Bastards, going even further to claim that Albert Einstein had "20% more", which drew the roadmap to developing nuclear weapons.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Actual celebrities appear, from the hero's parents being Ted Turner and Jane Fonda inexplicably in 5002, to Spike Lee being the Kingpin, and cameos by Alan Greenspan and Rush Limbaugh.
  • Non-Indicative Name: So, Marville is supposed to be a Pun-Based Title playing on Smallville. Besides the cover of Issue #1, the series is never touched upon.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Ted Turner purchased Earth through AOL, they renamed the planet "AOLon".
  • Only Six Faces: Mark D. Bright's artwork results in various jokes being lost on the reader. Anytime Al and Mickey meet some type-casted actor, their resemblance to everyone else makes it difficult to determine who the hell they're referencing. Even Wolverine, who has one of the most recognizable mugs in comics, simply looks like Al with long black hair.
  • Please Select New City Name: In 5002 AD, the Earth is known as "AOLon" due to AOL having bought the planet and renamed it.
  • Plot Hole:
    • At the end of issue 1, Ted Turner specifically says they can't send the time machine back to Al in the past. He does exactly that at the end of issue 2.
    • In issue 1, Al notes that no one in the past ever heard of Marvel; once he travels to the past, people consider his shirt (reading "Marvel Enterprises") to be proof he knows Marvel executives and mention Joe Quesada. Then in issue 2, Al assumes that Mickey would have studied Stan Lee in college and quotes Spider-Man. While Lee did plenty of comic work outside of Marvel, the framing of the scene makes it clear that Al considers Lee to be famous particularly for his work with Marvel.
    • In issue 3, Al gets another huge sack of money as a reward for catching the Kingpin in issue 2. He didn't, after a conversation with him they left the Kingpin's (or rather, Spike Lee's) office and did nothing to him.
    • In issue 4, Al says they can't set the time machine to go to a specific date, just to go forward or backward in time. It has been used to travel to specific dates multiple times previously, including the first issue when Ted Turner sent Al back to 2002 in the first place.
    • To tell when they get to the Jurassic Age, they scoop up some water and take it into the time machine with them, and set the time machine to fast forward, and inside the time machine they watch the water as the microorganisms in it evolve into a fish, an amphibian, and then a duckbilled dinosaur. Aside from the fact evolution does not work this way, why would the microorganisms evolve inside the time machine when its other occupants don't?
    • A crux of the comic's theories on evolution is that Wolverine was the first human being, and narration in issue 5 says he was born to two neanderthal parents in a process that took millions of years of genetic diversification. Except issue 4 ended with Wolverine evolving from the otter they brought with them from the Jurassic Age.
    • The cast meets Wolverine in two time periods, the second time 50,000 years later, and he recognizes them but has no idea what Al is talking about when he brings up that he's immortal due to his healing factor. How has Wolverine lived 50,000 years without realizing he's immortal? Or if this isn't the same Wolverine but some manner of reincarnation, then how does he recognize the group?
  • Police Are Useless: In Issue #2, when Mickey says to a couple of officers that their work can't involve just eating donuts, one of them says it pretty much does. He adds that all they do is take homeless people to shelters and show up at crime scenes after the criminals have gone.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The miniseries depicts Iron Man, Black Panther and a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of Batman as a bunch of violent thugs who beat up poor people for fun. In addition, Iron Man is shown to be racist due to making a derogatory statement about Mexicans and almost saying the N-word before Black Panther cuts him off.
  • Random Events Plot: The series opens in the year 5002, when Ted Turner and Jane Fonda send their son back in time to save him from a meteor strike that's going to destroy the planet. In the past Al befriends a cab driver and a policewoman and tries to become a superhero, and becomes massively rich from catching criminals. He decides that to understand how to be a proper superhero, he needs to understand the nature of morality and the meaning of life. The three use the time machine to travel to the dawn of creation and meet Jack, a man who may or may not be God, and he takes them on a journey through history to witness the dawn of life, meet talking dinosaurs, and then discover Wolverine was the first human being and a leader of primitive man. Along the way during this there's inexplicable celebrity cameos, many Plot Holes, philosophical and scientific discussions that present theories and ideologies that are often absurd or verifiably incorrect, and the things the characters are doing and their reasons for doing them change between issues.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Ted Turner and Jane Fonda are still alive (and married, despite divorcing before the comic was published) in the year 5002. No explanation is given for this.
  • Recap Episode: Issue #6 is Kal pitching the events of the earlier issues to an unnamed comic editor.
  • Saving the World With Art: In issue 6, Al is on a Mission from God to prevent World War III, and apparently the best way to do this is to get a comic book publisher to publish the previous 5 issues. So Al pitches the series in issue #6 to an unseen editor, but ultimately gets turned down.
  • Science Is Wrong: The comic, in addition to voicing its own beliefs on the nature of science, believes that preexisting fields like palaeontology, anthropology, biology, even basic physics are all hokum. Jack gets used as a mouthpiece to claim that "scientists are not very scientific" because they never search for or confirm things "on purpose", calling them morons or not getting work.
  • Sexy Packaging: As mentioned in Covers Always Lie, there were several covers featuring a very scantily clad woman who never showed up in the comics, with the covers being attributed to the fact Bill Jemas was losing a bet with Peter David and Sex Sells. The desperation ramps up 'til you get bare ass, almost bare breasts, and Wolverine's claw in #5.
  • Skinny Dipping: Issue #3 has everyone getting naked and going for a swim in prehistoric Earth.
  • Straw Character: Mickey turns into one in Issues #3-5. While Al and Lucy buy into Jack's talk and eagerly ask questions, Mickey tends to be the skeptic and argue against the explanations presented. She is almost always proven wrong when events play out that show Jack's explanation is accurate, even though Jack's explanations only make sense in the pseudoscientific world of the comic. On other occasions, her counterarguments aren't refuted at all, they're just dropped. The only time she's shown to be correct in her beliefs is when they align with what Jack says.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: It's claimed that "testosterone is God's vector"...That it is men who drive evolution.
  • Stripperiffic: Lucy is introduced in this, supposedly as an undercover cop. The girls also dress in those every now and then.
  • Take That!:
  • Take That, Audience!: Kicks in as late as—get this—Issue #6. Worse, it's not as much as making fun of the audience, rather it's a savage indictment of American culture: the reasoning is that Al's pitch for "world peace" is rejected by the editor because audiences don't care about substance and just want more superhero comics. Eat your heart out, Grant Morrison. invoked
  • Time Travel: Al does this in Issue #1. Then in the ones in #3-#5 it is used for Jemas to drop weird philosophy.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Mickey's Tomboy to Lucy's Girly Girl.
  • Toon Physics: There are a few moments of this, such as a man karate-chopping flaming meteorites or Batman bashing someone's head in until their head sticks out of their stomach. Considering the semi-realistic artstyle and traditional physics the series otherwise runs on, they're rather abrupt.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In issue 1, Al saves a theater ticket scalper from being mugged by the thief who tried to rob the bank earlier. The guy gives them ludicrously high prices on the tickets.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: AOLstro, Al's dog, disappears after Issue #2 — he doesn't even pop back up in Issue #6, which recaps the first five issues.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Wolverine (allegedly) shows up in Issue #5, and is on the main cover of Issue #6, even though he has no part in Issue 6 at all.
  • World War III: It is revealed in #5 that the reason that they are traveling through time is because Jack wants to show them how war works and due to their popularity and wealth from "fighting" crime they will prevent the upcoming World War. However, we never actually see them do this — make of that what you will.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Bill Jemas can do math, but doesn't understand what it means. Al claims that the 200 million dollars in his savings account earns 6% interest, which means he has $230,000 a week for spending money. That's actually fairly accurate if one presumes his interest is compounded annually; 6% of 200 million is 12 million, which divides out to a little over $230,000 a week. The problem is that because the interest is compounded annually, that's when Al is going to earn his interest, not weekly. If he waits a full year to earn his interest, he'll earn enough then to be able to spend $230,000 a week for the rest of his life while continuing to accrue interest each year after. Until then, spending money like he claims he can will result in less money he's earning interest on when his compounding period ends and he'll make less money than he thinks he will, leading to diminishing returns. In all likelihood, Jemas came to the numbers he did the same way they're described here, by dividing Al's yearly interest by 52 and presenting that number as what he earns every week, even though that's not how saving accounts work.
    • Also Artistic License – Economics: Bill also forgets that most of the rich people he is parodying have a high net worth, but a low liquidity. They'd have to sell everything they own, and close their companies, to be able to do the $230,000 a week thing. Even then, many of them also have expenses from running their company, keeping their reputation up, etc. Their cost of living is rather high.
    • The money Al is given as reward ($200,000,000) is in hundred-dollar bills, as confirmed by the second issue. However, the amount he's given (2 million $100 bills) would take up 3,980 square feet (more than 1.5 times larger than the area of the average house at the time Marville came out), and weigh 2,040 pounds (1.02 tons), meaning that not only should said reward money not even come close to fitting in a sack that size, but Al should not be able to effortlessly lift said sack.
  • Writing Around Trademarks:
    • While Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Punisher, and Matt Murdock appear as themselves (in appearance at least) in Issue 2, we also get an ersatz Batman who is never referred to by name, has an all-black costume with a yellow bat-symbol, and has three spikes on his cowl instead of two.
    • Issue 3 has Al see God as a sort of stand-in for Superman. Despite Al's insistence that he's "a dead-ringer for the Man of Steel," there are many noteworthy visual differences: the Superman seen here wears an indigo costume with a blue cape, boots, and trunks, and his hair is choppy and spiky in contrast to the real Superman's signature spit-curl.