Last Hero Standing #5

Background

Due to Loki's spell corrupting the minds of MC2's heroes, the Hulk is on a rampage (again), leaving the heroes to detain him while fighting amongst themselves.

Story Details

The issue opens with the Human Torch throwing fireballs at the Hulk, who in turn throws a fire hydrant back at him and takes him out. Psi-Lord attacks psychically while Big Brain utilizes a device to siphon the gamma radiation from the Hulk. Loki, watching in his astral form, casts a spell to restore Hulk's power, and the Hulk pounds the ground, sending rubble flying and effectively taking down Big Brain and Psi-Lord.

Meanwhile, in Thor's Asgardian castle, Thor and Captain America watch the battle from a mystic pool. Preparing to enter the fray, Thor asks Cap to sit this one out because of his failing strength. Cap refuses, but states his intentions to retire after the upcoming battle.

Spider-Girl, Thunderstrike, J2, Wild Thing, and Nova all stand with the Vizier waiting on Thor and Captain America. They, too, are discussing the upcoming battle, and Nova, possessed by Loki's spell, says that they must kill the Hulk to stop him. The Vizier notices Nova's harsher attitude and takes out a crystal, zapping him with its magic. The heroes turn to confront the Vizier on this "attack," but Nova stops them, telling them that the Vizier has reversed Loki's spell. The Vizier explains the spell to the heroes and adds that they must stop Loki before someone gets killed, or else the spell will become permanent.

Back on our Earth, the Thing and Wolverine whip up a fastball special for the Hulk. Stinger, unaffected by Loki's spell and opposed to the murder of the Hulk, shrinks down and knocks Wolverine off his path. The Hulk easily deflects Wolverine and claps his hands together, creating a shockwave that takes her out of the fight. He babbles about how he's the strongest one there is while a portal opens up behind him. Out step our heroes from Asgard, led by Thor. The Hulk lifts a bus to throw at him, but Thor crushes it with the mighty Mjolnir. To avoid flying debris, Spider-Girl leaps onto a wall just above Loki's astral form...and her spider-sense begins to tingle.

Over at Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, the Vizier arrives to find Doc Magus looking over Dr. Strange's body. To Doc Magus's surprise, the Vizier reveals and releases the magical bonds holding Strange that were mystically hidden from sight. They follow Loki's trail back to the site of the battle, and just as Spider-Girl trusts her spider-sense to jump forward and kick Loki, the three sorcerers call upon their magic to make the Norse God visible.

Captain America calls the Avengers to assemble on Loki, who easily knocks them away with his magic. Cap himself slams his shield into Loki, while Thor and the Hulk pound on one another. As Thor charges up his hammer to fire...uh...MAGIC at Hulk, Captain America notices the crystal Loki had been using for his dark magic and smashes it. A shockwave goes through the heroes affected by Loki's spell, and the Hulk's eyes clear. Disoriented and finally free of Loki's spell, he sees what Thor is about to do, but it's too late. Thor fires a beam of energy from Mjolnir at the Hulk with a "THWAKA-BWOOM!"

Enraged, Loki casts a similar beam at Captain America, yelling that Cap has failed, because of Thor's killing of the Hulk. Equally enraged at Loki's attack on Captain America, Thor yells that the Hulk still lives, as he averted his aim at the last moment. Loki taunts him with Captain America's fatal wounding, as the Hulk realizes the destruction he's caused. For taking Captain America's life, Thor casts Loki into Limbo for eternity, and the Hulk, knowing the damage he's caused on Earth, leaps in to join him...and punish him.

The heroes gather around the fallen Captain America, waiting for the paramedics. Cap says they won't be there in time, and with his final breath, he gives a speech regarding duty and monsters and challenges and blah blah blah. Everyone stands in silence at the passing of this legend, until Thor pushes his way through the crowd.

Thor lays his hammer on Captain America's chest and channels the power of the Norse Gods, along with Cap's spirit, through Mjolnir. Cap's image flies into the heavens, and there is born a new constellation--Cap's star shield, shining like a beacon in the night sky.

General Comments

Alright, let's do the math here...two ninety-nine times five issues is fourteen ninety-five...tack on there Virginia's five percent sales tax since that's where this reviewer's comics were bought, and we have a grand total of fifteen dollars and seventy cents that I may as well have flushed down the toilet rather than spent on this joke of a miniseries.

What the crap was Loki's motivation for this whole master plan of his? If he'd had an artifact with the power to "take the heroes' compassion and integrity," wouldn't you think he would have done it years ago? Is the NORSE GOD OF MISCHIEF so dense that it took him twenty-plus years to figure out, "Oh, man, I can get half the heroes in the world out of my hair in a hot minute if I use this vaguely defined power to completely alter their personalities!" If it were me, not only would I have done it the very first time I encountered meddling heroes, but I would have figured out a way to do it without CHANGING THE COLOUR OF THEIR EYES first. Dead giveaway, Loki...and yet, most of the other heroes only found it slightly odd.

It seems to me that the only reason for publishing this stain (besides, of course, guest-starring everyone and their father, taking my money, and wasting my time) was for the "milestone" of the MC2 Captain America's death. Well, guess what, DeFalco? WE DON'T CARE. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the first time Cap has graced the pages of the MC2 universe. We as readers have no existing relationship with this alternate future's Cap, and thus his death in this universe doesn't leave the emotional impact it was intended to. Not to mention the fact that this conclusion was completely obvious to any reader with more than a single brain cell in issue one, as DeFalco practically screamed the words "CAPTAIN AMERICA DIES IN ISSUE FIVE" throughout the length of the series.

The only good thing I have to say about this series is that it was the first time I found Pat Olliffe's pencils visually stunning. Hats off to him for making a crappy plot and script at least fun to look at.

Overall Rating

My rating here is more for the series as a whole than the single issue. It only gets the web because Marvel made the wise decision to put this book out weekly rather than monthly and, in turn, only wasted little more than a month of my time rather than five. This same story could have been done in one to two issues of Spider-Girl and not made me shell out more money than usual at the comic shop--or better yet--it could have not been done at all.

Footnote

On a final note...I saw a lot of heroes still standing at the conclusion of this series. "Last Hero Standing," my rear end.