Diving into the unknown is what Touring the Cosmos is all about. Alternate universes, potential futures, and mismanaged timelines are all part of the fantastic world of science-fiction. In The Last Avengers Story, Peter David and Ariel Olivetti take us to Earth-9511, a world where few true heroes remain, and a fantastic final battle is on the horizon.
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Letters: Jim Novak
Released: November 1995
The Marvel Universe consists of a limitless amount of alternate timelines where even the most minute differences change the whole landscape of life and earth as we know it. The main universe today is Earth-616. In The Last Avengers Story, Peter David and Ariel Olivetti explore Erath-9511. The turning point in this universe is at the wedding of The Vision and the Scarlet Witch. At this wedding, Quicksilver charges The Vision over his rage and disapproval of this union. Before he hits The Vision, though, Scarlet Witch intervenes and is killed in the crossfire. This turning point changes the mood and outlook of The Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Years later, Hank Pym is summoned for a final battle against Kang, Ultron, and The Grim Reaper. Assembling whoever is left of The Avengers, the final battle between Earth-9511’s heroes and villains commences.
There are some interesting similarities between The Last Avengers Story and what has happened in the main Marvel U over the last few years. The Last Avengers Story was released in 1995, and many of the similar events have happened in the last 15 years in the Marvel Universe. Firstly, the “death” of the Scarlet Witch really shook things up in 9511, and certainly took a toll on 616. While there are different reasons for her death or disappearance, the results are two universes with very somber atmospheres. The Vision and Scarlet Witch have children in both 616 and 9511. In both universes they become super powered individuals. In Avengers vol. 3 (Perez & Busiek), Ultron organizes an army of all of his incarnations, which he also uses as his army on 9511. Both Earth-616 and 9511 have Captain America involved in some dubious government action (Superhero Registration Act, execution of villains), and both end in the same result: his death. Oh, and Kang is still an a-hole.
While it is fun to think that writers have drawn on this story for future ideas, it is hard to believe that Peter David created this universe for that purpose. Instead, he crafted a universe or earth that has a potential to be. Similar events have happened on Earth-616, and this only goes to show how good David’s foresight actually is. A lot of the personal demons and inner dramas that David used in this story are very realistic and truly interesting to read. From Mockingbird’s resentment to Hawkeye’s ongoing passion, to Hulk’s traitorous actions to the Pym/Vision/Williams family drama, these are all very emotional subjects. David uses his characters to drive this story, and does it well. The legacy characters that he creates for this story have realistic upbringings, and the existing characters he uses are accurate. While the main character used is Hank Pym, everyone around him falls into place nicely, and much of the Avengers’ storied history ties into his own history really well.
Ariel Olivetti’s work is pretty spot on for this story. It has a grit that really portrays the times that these Avengers live in. Superheroics have become hollow after the decision to execute the villains of the world, and the current roster of Avengers doesn’t hold a candle to the past. Olivetti has some really stunning pages and panels early on in the book when introducing certain key characters in the story. Kang’s armor early in the story looks worn but sturdy, and Grim Reaper’s first appearance was breathtaking. That being said, you can tell that this is some of Olivetti’s early work. Hank Pym doesn’t look very consistent throughout the story, and sometimes characters come off as odd looking, and kind of lumpy. It felt as though Olivetti was saving his finer art for the key moments of the story. When those points did come, it is hard to think of an artist that would have pulled off these scenes better. Luckily though, Olivetti’s work today really shines with consistency and his proportions are spot on.
The Last Avengers Story is a sincere story from start to finish. It evokes a ton of emotion, especially for those that are fans of The Avengers. To read it 20 years later is also a lot of fun, because the parallels between Erath-616 and 9511 are actually quite intriguing. Olivetti’s art has certainly evolved from this story. That doesn’t mean that the art in this was bad, because it is actually very fitting for the atmosphere and had some really gorgeous panels. It wasn’t very consistent, though, and at times felt disproportionate. David’s writing, as usual, was spot on. He has a true knack for finding what makes characters tick, and exploits it to the fullest creating some really emotional tales. The Last Avengers Story is as entertaining a read as they come for alternate universes.