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Comic Book / Ruins

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"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

A two-issue miniseries parody of Marvels written by Warren Ellis that shows a version of the Marvel Universe where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

As in Marvels, the central character of this story is Daily Bugle reporter Philip Sheldon, who can't shake the feeling that everything in the world is wrong and tries to gather as many interviews and information as he can so he can publish a book before he dies.


This comic contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Several characters who were unambiguously on the side of good are portrayed in a much more sinister light in this continuity. The most jarring examples include Professor X being an unscrupulous President rather than the benevolent leader of the X-Men and Nomad being a Nazi sympathizer.
  • A God Am I: Donald Blake leads a cult while claiming to channel the thunder god Thor. Strangely, Thor is shown to exist in this universe as a member of the Avengers, as indicated by a soldier finding Mjolnir among the wreckage of the Quinjet.
  • Autocannibalism: In the second issue, Nightcrawler is seen chewing on his own tail.
  • Body Horror:
    • Instead of becoming a large muscular behemoth whenever he's enraged, exposure to gamma radiation causes this reality's version of Bruce Banner to become a barely living mass of tumors.
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    • Wolverine appears, albeit addressed as "Canuck", with the toxicity of his adamantium skeleton causing his flesh to slowly decay off his bones.
    • Instead of spider powers, the radioactive spider bite gives Peter Parker a mutant virus that eventually covers his body with a nasty and red web-shaped rash; for good measure, in the flashforward to his final moments, the floor around his is covered in blood and he's apparently naked except for a blanket, suggesting that his skin is too irritated for clothing.
    • Johnny Blaze got it pretty bad; during a stunt gone horribly wrong, his face caught fire and he rode off into the desert, screaming in agony. The flames kept burning until all the flesh on his head was gone, leaving a burning skull. He's still riding through the desert, his skull still burning, and he's still screaming...
    • The cancerous deterioration of the Kree prisoners is illustrated in particularly ghastly fashion; Mar-Vell remarks that - had their visitor not been wearing a hazmat suit - Sheldon would be able to smell his bones decaying.
  • Covers Always Lie: The first issue's cover depicts Philip Sheldon surrounded by Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Jean Grey lying on the ground as they're dying, while the second issue's cover depicts an in-costume Magneto looking shocked as he uncontrollably attracts various metal objects to his body. Both covers are contradictory to the fact that most people in this version of the Marvel Universe never became costumed superhumans.
  • Crapsack World: It's called Ruins for a reason.
  • Darker and Edgier: The main premise of this comic is that many of the accidents that created the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe instead resulted in horrific deformities and painful deaths, with the few individuals who actually have super powers being very unscrupulous and/or quite messed up in the head.
  • Death by Adaptation: As mentioned under Darker and Edgier, a lot of Marvel characters in this reality were killed by the accidents that gave them super powers in the standard continuity. Many others are also shown being killed or as corpses, such as Hawkeye being shot and Philip Sheldon tripping over the Punisher's body.
  • Death World: Maybe death universe would be a more apt description. It honestly seems like the universe of Ruins is actively hostile to its inhabitants, with heroes and villains we knew and loved in the mainstream Marvel universe becoming horrifically sick and/or mutilated either because of the incidents that gave them their powers or because of the powers themselves.
  • Downer Ending: Sheldon is ready to publish everything he learned when the medication he's been taking to suppress a virus runs out. As he dies, all of his notes are scattered to the wind, possibly lost forever.
  • Driven to Suicide: Nick Fury blows his brains out after telling Sheldon how fucked up the world is.
  • Driving Question: This world was supposed to be full of Marvels. What went so wrong?
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: The Kree's attempt to invade Earth fails due to the corpse of the Silver Surfer screwing up their sensors with its leaking energy, allowing Earth's combined militaries to unload their nuclear arsenal on their fleet, wiping out almost the entire population and reducing the few survivors to prisoners of war dying of cancer in internment camps.
  • Eye Scream: Scott Summers's eyes have been burned out to remove his uncontrollable powers.
  • Fantastic Racism: Mar-Vell refers to humans as "retarded pink monkeys".
  • Finagle's Law: Warren Ellis cranks this into overdrive for the book.
  • For Want of a Nail: The entire story revolves around Phil Sheldon's investigation into this trope, as he feels something has gone terribly wrong in this world and wants to know what caused it. It's heavily implied that Ben Grimm's refusal to pilot Reed Richards' spaceship to study cosmic rays, the event that would've created the Fantastic Four (and thus the Marvel Universe as we know it), was the catalyst. This is contradicted by other details in the same story, however.
    Ben: I can't help but think it woulda been different if I'd flown her. Can't help it.
  • God is Dead: Deep-space photos have discovered the corpse of Galactus in orbit around Jupiter, having presumably starved to death.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: It's hinted that Nick Fury knows that this world was supposed to be so much better than what they got, but has been driven so far off the slippery slope that all that's left is a rambling madman who eventually decides to just end his own life.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Nick Fury claims to have been introduced to cannibalism by Captain America during World War II.
  • Infection Scene: The second issue concludes with a dying Phillip Sheldon finally flashing back to the cause of his terminal illness: Peter Parker's radioactive spider-bite merely infected him with a mutant virus, but before finally dying of the Body Horror that ensued, he happened to go to the Daily Bugle for work... and shake Sheldon's hand, complete with a close-up of the webbing-shaped rash on Peter's wrist.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: For some reason or another, Phil Sheldon finds himself theorizing that something has gone wrong in this universe and all the horrors and destruction he sees should've been more marvelous, leading to him searching for answers.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: One of President X's more bizarre habits is getting drunk and visiting the inmates of his prison, where he rubs his crotch and yells "you came from this". Whether he means that he's literally the source of mutants in this universe or not is anyone's guess.
  • Ominous Hairloss:
    • Sheldon begins the story with a full head of hair; by the end of the second issue, he's rapidly going bald as his terminal illness reaches its final stages.
    • Peter Parker, the source of Sheldon's infection, ends up with an even worse case of it: in his final moments, on top of sporting blank white eyes and a hideous livid rash across most of his body, he retains only a few vague tufts of hair.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Kree, including Captain Marvel, have contracted cancer. Mar-Vell ended up succumbing to cancer in the regular continuity.
    • Black Panther was arrested alongside Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale after becoming involved with the Black Panther Party. This is presumably a reference to the period in the 70s where Marvel changed the character's codename to "Black Leopard" to avoid any association with the revolutionary group.
  • President Evil: Charles Francis Xavier is President of the United States, but he isn't a very decent person and has even imprisoned several mutants and mutilated them in order to keep their powers in check.
  • Power Incontinence: The vast majority of mutants seem to lack any sort of control over their powers, with disastrous consequnces. Cyclops and Quicksilver had to be crippled to bring them under control, Magneto is killed in an airport when the dampening device he's wearing is damaged, causing him to be crushed by tons of metal, and Mystique uncontrollably shapeshifts and has to be hauled away by police as her brain implodes.
  • The Reveal: The second issue reveals near the end that Philip Sheldon is dying because he got infected by a mutant virus that he caught from Peter Parker.
  • Required Secondary Powers: An entire world where everyone is lacking the secondary powers to keep their powers from killing themselves and everyone else around them. This story is the logical extreme of every character having only their primary powers and nothing else to make those viable or safe.
  • Sanity Slippage: The Kree theorize that the Silver Surfer's death was brought about by him finally snapping from Sense Loss Sadness and tearing apart his own chest in a vain attempt to experience breathing again.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Mar-Vell helped lead the Kree's attempted invasion of Earth, but was under the impression that humanity had potential and didn't need Kree intervention to be great. Unfortunately, his people's treatment at the hands of Earth's militaries has made him extremely cynical and bitterly admit that he was wrong.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Sheldon pleads with God to let him live long enough to finish his book, but ends up dying as his photos and notes fly away in the wind.
  • Transformation Horror: Mystique's Shapeshifter Swan Song features her flesh warping out of shape, discoloring in a frankly disgusting fashion as a human mouth on a stalk begins wrenching herself out of her left eye - and all the while, Mystique is screaming in horror. We don't see the end result, but her empty seat is covered in blood, and Sheldon is informed that if she'd remembered to take her medication, her brain wouldn't have imploded.
  • The Un-Reveal: The reason why the world has gone wrong is not entirely revealed. However, Sheldon's interview with Ben Grimm implies that his refusal to take part in the space trip that would create the Fantastic Four was the cause. However, this is somewhat contradicted by Fury noting he was introduced to cannibalism by Captain America in World War II, meaning the darkness began long before Grimm’s choice was made.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Wilson Fisk is the warden of the special superhuman prison, and regularly taunts and abuses the captive mutants.