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Comic Book / Marville

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"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.

Tropes present:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Batman, Iron Man, and Black Panther are considerably more dickish than their main counterparts.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Guess how Al discovers he doesn't have X-Ray Vision.
  • 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".
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: Marville #7 is a submission guide for the then-upcoming Epic line of Marvel Comics.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Issue #4 makes the (debunked) claim that only humans kill members of their own species.
  • 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.
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  • 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:
    • Apart from all the various inaccuracies about dinosaurs, Jemas continually refers to the Jurassic Period as "Jurassic Park". This may be a joke... but it happens so often that Jemas may actually believe that's the real name.
    • 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. Furthermore, otters are shown living in the late Cretaceous period (in reality, they didn't show up until well after the dinosaurs went extinct), Al refers to pterosaurs as dinosaurs that live in the water, and Jack explains that dinosaurs can't be warm-blooded because of their spine movements.
    • And to top it all off, the dinosaurs can fucking talk.
  • Author Filibuster: Issues #3 to #5 are filled with this (and since they are nonsensical and don't seem like parodies at all, Linkara described as "a gaze into the eyes of madness").
  • Author Tract: Let's see: Ted Turner is a doofus, Spike Lee is the Kingpin of Crime, Rush Limbaugh is a fit superhero with tons of fans, intelligent design is real with the theory of evolution decried as short-sighted and stupid (not to mention Jack directly insults paleontologists), the original humans were white, there's lots of batshit insane pseudoscience to support the comic's ideas on evolution and intelligent design, and charity, racial sensitivity, vegetarianism, and political correctness are all mocked. Yeah, there's a certain political ideology being pushed here.
  • Behind the Black: Issue #2 attempts this when 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 ENTERPRISES" on the side. It had the potential to work, had the previous panel 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".
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: One of the characters implies that Tarzan is based on ancestral genetic memories of real events.
  • 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 unintentionally funnier than when it was actually trying to be funny.
  • Chair Reveal: The Kingpin does this at the end of his crime speech...who is then revealed to be Spike Lee.
  • Colony Drop: It opens with a meteor shower on Earth. One of the stones is cut by Ted Turner with a Tomahawk Chopnote .
  • 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.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite what one might state about Al, there is no doubt he can handle himself in a fight.
  • Curbstomp 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.
  • 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).
  • Dirty Harriet: Lucy does this in her introductory issue.
  • 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.
  • Fanservice: The covers are always covered with a woman barely wearing anything and Issue #3 has all the characters go skinny dipping.
  • The Fool: Al. Where he thought he gained superpowers from traveling back in time, believing he could save people by just giving out money, and did not know the dinosaurs were killed off.
  • 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.
  • 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: Shallow 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: Appears, and described as follows:
    Lucy: God looks exactly like he does in the Bible.
    Al: The Bible doesn't have any pictures.
    Lucy: Look, I know a flowing white beard and a wise Caucasian brow when I see one.
  • Hard on Soft Science: Anthropologists and archaeologists are repeatedly mocked and ridiculed as know-it-all losers, their theories dismissed as baseless conjecture.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: If the opening recaps are to believed, Al has a thing for Mickey. None of this ever comes across in the actual comic.
  • Idiot Hero: Al. Special emphasis on the "idiot" part (and the "hero" part is pretty questionable as well).
  • 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.
    • Issues #3-5 feature pseudoscience so absurd and stupid that even calling it pseudoscience is a stretch of the term.
      • The characters repeatedly insist that God had to have 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 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.
      • They watch a fish in a container of water evolve into an amphibian by spontaneously mutating feet from its fins. Putting aside how nonsensical that by itself is, the comic later uses this occurrence to argue in favor of intelligent design, because if evolution was like the scientists said and animals only mutated in ways to help them survive, the fish wouldn't have evolved feet before there was land, therefore the fact that it did evolve feet is proof that God had "preprogrammed" their DNA to eventually evolve them from aquatic to amphibious life.
      • Given that Jack is God, the characters ask if he could save the dinosaurs from the upcoming extinction event and the deep cold it will create by helping them to evolve to be warm-blooded, like mammals. Jack explains that mammal spines are designed to move vertically while dinosaur spines move horizontally, and this is necessary to provide the proper skeletal structure to support the organs necessary to maintain a warm-blooded metabolism.
      • Jack explains he took the three through their journey of creation because if he had just visited them in the future and explained all this to them, they would have dismissed it, but now that they're seeing it with their own eyes, they believe it for themselves. Jack explains that it isn't enough to just hear the words of a proposition, you have to see them happening to truly understand. Lucy responds by asking "so are you saying that the only true path to truth is reading comic books?" — Jack confirms this is exactly what he meant.
      • Scientists are decried as "not being very scientific" because they've never actually seen evolution happen, they've only had a glimpse at a few hundred years of history before their time, and presumed their findings are applicable to all of Earth history.
      • Wolverine is the first human being, the first "mutant" in a sense. And he isn't immortal because of his healing factor, "that's just a metaphor", he's immortal because his status as the first human being means his genetic code lives on in all of humankind.
      • Mickey says that in anthropology class, they learned that in primitive human tribes, only the chiefs got to have wives. Jack replies that this doesn't make sense if you actually think about it, since it would mean the entire tribe sprang about from inbreeding. This would be correct, if one presumes the chief never gets replaced, his kids only breed with each other, and they don't leave to join other tribes and members of other tribes don't come to join them. Otherwise the tribe would be full of people not genetically related to the chief. Not to mention that Jack isn't even bringing up the ideas of impregnation and child-rearing happening without marriage.
  • 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.
    • The comic tries to satirize Batman, Iron Man, and Black Panther by portraying them as a group of psychotic, murderous assholes who openly abuse the lower classes for fun - e.g., the exact opposite of their real selves. What's more, Batman here is a Captain Ersatz who is never named in-story, so he doesn't even have a name in common.
    • 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.
  • Irony: Peter David is portrayed as a homeless bum in #2 and pretty much stating that his work was worthless, all while the comic he made for the contest against Bill Jemas sold twice as much as his did.
  • 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.
  • Logic Bomb: This comic tries to repeatedly state that there is no evolution... all while showing evolution happening around them. Portrayed incorrectly.
  • Magical Negro: In the form of Jack, aka God.
  • Mind Screw: Add haphazard storytelling when it tries being straightforward, showing downright insane scenes once it attempts being serious, and the weird "scientific" debate, and it's hard to make much sense out of the comic.
  • Mood Whiplash: Often the attempts at seriousness are followed by attempts at comedy. Towards the end of the second issue, there was a confrontation between the cast and the Kingpin (hidden behind his chair). There is a big, serious speech about crime, then the Kingpin reveals himself as Spike Lee, declaring, "Now get your flabby white butts out of my space."
  • Neon Sign Hideout: The Kingpin of Crime's lair is a gigantic skyscraper with "KINGPIN ENTERPRISES" written on the side.
  • 90% of Your Brain: Used verbatim, as, impressively, not even the most inaccurate thing in the sentence it was in.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Actual celebrities appear, from the hero's parents being Ted Turner and Jane Fonda in 5002, to Spike Lee being the Kingpin, and cameos by Alan Greenspan and Rush Limbaugh (who is handsome and thin).
  • 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... and once AOL overtook it 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: You can't go more than three steps without falling into one. Increasingly as the series continues, basic logic and reason break down, and things just happen, or don't happen, without explanation. Some of this can be chalked up to Rule of Funny, but the writing in the series is so bad it's difficult to tell.
    • Throughout the comic, the art often does not match what the characters say. For one example, when God is described by Al as being "a dead ringer for Superman", we see a brunette man in a blue outfit with gold and a giant "J" on his chest — a Captain Ersatz of Superman for sure, but not a "dead ringer".
    • In the year 2002, the bank somehow recognizes and is able to read Al's bank card from the future, including that he has an account that won't be activated for 3000 years. The AoL trial disk Ted Turner gives Al also works on 2002 computers.
    • 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 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 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, but its other occupants don't? Also, the duckbill can talk in perfect English, because duckbills have very elaborate voiceboxes. They're also Jewish.
    • Twice in issue 4, a herd of dinosaurs appears from nowhere surrounding the protagonists, who apparently did not see them even though they are in plain sight on all sides.
    • Wolverine recognizes the group when he meets them late in issue 5, but is confused when Al brings up that he doesn't age because of his Healing Factor and has no clue what he's talking about. How has Wolverine lived for tens of thousands of years without it clicking with him that he's immortal and he has a healing factor? The comic seems to imply that Wolverine is a Legacy Character who has been reincarnating through the years, since Jack claims Wolverine came to this tribe as a young man... but then how does he recognize the main characters?
  • Police Are Useless: To an insulting degree. 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.
  • Pre Historia: Issues #3 to #5 take place in a very messed-up iteration of prehistoric earth.
  • Random Events Plot: A summary of the six issues goes as follows: Superman parody starring random pop-cultural figures; political satire starring superheroes and pop-cultural figures; the cast travels back to the dawn of creation to meet God and learn the meaning of life; the cast travels to the Jurassic age and meets talking, sapient dinosaurs; the cast discovers Wolverine is the first human being leading cave people in pre-historic times and is immortal because of his status as the first human; Al recaps the series in the framing device of pitching the story to a comic editor. Along the way, the reasons for characters doing things change constantly, even in the same issue, and the writer seems to forget plot points he made in previous 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 3002. No explanation is given for this.
  • Recap Episode/Postmodernism:
    • Issue #6 is Kal pitching the events of the earlier issues to an unnamed comic editor.
    • Also at the beginning of each book, there are a few pages recapping what happened before. Often getting its own material wrong, such as claiming that Mickey and Al are in love (which is never shown in the comic), and when stating Al being sent back to the past, said picture is of Al receiving the time machine in the past.
  • Rich Jerk: Iron Man, Batman and Black Panther cameo just to be portrayed as complete assholes; Batman is a violent psychopath who attacks poor people for fun, Iron Man is casually racist and cares nothing for his employees, and Black Panther cares more about stopping bad language than violent actions. The protagonist of the series, Al, is a downplayed example, being more Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense.
  • 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, which is presented in an inaccurate recap, but ultimately gets turned down.
  • Science Is Wrong: The comic does this to an insulting degree, to the point that it pretty much states that if you believe in science, you are a moron.
  • 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 Insane Troll Logic 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.
  • Stripperiffic: Lucy is introduced in this, supposedly as an undercover cop. The girls also dress in those every now and then.
  • Take That!
    • Most of the digs at DC Comics are rather mean-spirited, with certain characters just going on and on about how they suck without ever explaining why they supposedly suck.
    • Scientists never do anything on purpose, anthropologists can't find real jobs—and besides, their knowledge only extends a few hundred years, and everything before that is made up for the purpose of making scientists look smart.
    • There's a jab aimed at Jemas' competitor Peter David in Issue #2, when the comic says David has no fans (while Rush Limbaugh has tons of fans) and portrays him as a homeless bum.
    • Police officers get the treatment in Issue #2. See under the Police Are Useless entry.
  • 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
    • The irony being that only those with the intellectual prowess to read Bill Jemas would even notice this accusation.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The comic as it progresses becomes a look at Bill Jemas' psyche and his, putting it mildly, bizarre outlook on science, religion, and the world.
  • 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: Attempted, but done badly. The comic primarily uses a semi-realistic art style with realistic physics, which makes moments such as a man karate-chopping flaming meteorites or Batman bashing someone's head in until their head sticks out of their chest look really, really awkward. Furthermore, the mediocrity of the art itself sometimes makes the "cartoony" moments difficult to decipher.
  • 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.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Issue #3–#6 is essentially a Marvel version of Chick Tracts, as written by Bill Jemas.
  • 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. This becomes Fridge Logic almost immediately; despite Jack claiming the world is headed towards World War III, Al never mentions any war in the 3000 years between his time and the present, and very little suggests that there was any threat of war in the future either.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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