The Marvel Universe as we knew it must have died, because I’m experiencing distinct stages of grief. At first I thought it was just a publishing strategy, but that was just denial, and maybe a little bit of anger. Then I heard that Mighty Avengers wouldn’t be crossing over, and I thought that was a good bargain. Then I read this issue, which shows various people of the Marvel universe dealing with its demise, and I’m smack in the depression stage.

I’ve rarely read a comicbook that dealt with the finality of cancellation in such a way, but then again, we’ve rarely had comicbooks that had such a finality of a cancellation.

This issue does not have the action front and center, but instead chooses to focus on the way the characters react to the action, whether they are on the front lines or behind the scenes. It’s moving and provocative, providing key character moments for Spectrum, She-Hulk, and supporting cast members. Speaking of the former in particular, I have always appreciated Spectrum’s motivation as a character, and she has always found herself in a position to clarify what it means to be a hero. Here, she truly shines in this respect. I would even go so far as to say the last few issues of this series could really have been called “Captain Marvel and the Mighty Avengers” (as long as you keep her former codename) and she is deservedly a breakout star of the book.

Which is weird since it really *is* titled with Captain America’s name, but that character is only in one panel of the entire issue. It’s still a weakness that the presentation of characters never really balance, but at least in this issue that’s used to good effect. It’s the unsung heroes that get the spotlight. There’s a story to being a supporting character; literally so, in the case of Soraya the Call Center Woman. And after the intense focus on these stories, there’s a kind of momentum that culminates in a series of similarly sized panels, one for each key character of the series, striking a balance of tone and theme even if the depth of characterization can’t be shown for our main heroes.

The art is capable of matching the extreme pathos for such an issue— aiming for something realistic and emotive. The personalities come across as strong, and there are several sequences of panels that pace the reading nicely. Check out how many characters are in close-up, head tilted but looking up.

The book has always stressed the “everyman” kind of hero, a way to create “street level” heroes that don’t have to equate to grim and gritty. This gets a little over-the-top with the last four pages of the comic bringing “YOU” into the story. The doctor (perhaps a caricature of writer Al Ewing?) addresses the reader by breaking the fourth wall and celebrating the fact that we are ally “everyman” kind of heroes. I appreciate the nice touches like the glows as the doctor shines a light directly into the panel. Still, you can’t escape the finality of it all. The doctor’s speech gets cut off at the very last minute. Cut to black. and… Scene.

Not many comics made the end of the Marvel Universe an opportunity for something truly emotional. Even with half an hour to live, heroes like “you” still try to save lives. Because that’s what heroes do. Bold characters, strong emotional beats, and a deep resonance for what it means to be a Marvel hero. Hopefully someday I’ll be in the “acceptance” stage, but for now I’ll mourn a favorite series.

Grade

A-

Conclusion

Not many comics made the end of the Marvel Universe an opportunity for something truly emotional. Even with half an hour to live, heroes like “you” still try to save lives. Because that’s what heroes do. Bold characters, strong emotional beats, and a deep resonance for what it means to be a Marvel hero. Hopefully someday I’ll be in the “acceptance” stage, but for now I’ll mourn a favorite series.