In our 17th installment of FUNday, the weekly look at the lighter side of collecting Alpha Flight, we get yet another incredible book by the genius Fred Hembeck!
Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe #1
Originally set as a follow-up to the Fantastic Four Roast, this hilarious classic features tons of characters from the Marvel Universe, including none other than the great Fred Hembeck who appears as himself. Everyone dies, of course, as you can tell from the title, and luckily, Alpha Flight died too! Northstar and Guardian appear in single panel cameos as ghosts. Puck and Sasquatch’s name appear on headstones, and all the rest die behind the scenes.
The general plot is that the big guy at Marvel (who was Jim Shooter at the time) had an evil twin who conned Fred Hembeck into writing a story to kill off the entire Marvel Universe. That actual story was written in 1983 but not published until 1989, by which time Jim Shooter had left Marvel. The 1989 version had to be re-framed to make sense and ended up as a narrative read by The Punisher, who is really Stan Lee in disguise. In the narrative, hero and villian alike face the most absurd deaths with just about every possible wisecrack, gag and fast-paced silliness that only Fred Hembeck can deliver. At the end, Stan Lee tosses all the pages into the trash.
At the beginning of the narrative, a number of heroes rise out of a graveyard as legless ghosts. Two of the tombstones bear the names “Sasquatch” and “Puck”, but the characters don’t appear in the book. Sasquatch’s tombstone can be found in the lower left and Puck’s is in the upper right of this image.
Later, while Cap and Iron Man (Jim Rhodes at the time) discuss their situation while waiting to be processed in the afterlife, Northstar appears very tiny in one corner as a ghost.
After the Fantastic Four are crushed by a boulder and sent to the afterlife, Guardian appears, also as a newly risen ghost. Note that at the time this story was written in 1983, Guardian had not yet been considered dead in Alpha Flight #12 (cover date Jul 1984). By the time this comic was published in 1989, he was still considered dead, but would return to Alpha Flight in 1990. This wasn’t the only sort of thing that dated the 1983 portion of the story, but similar to having Jim Rhodes in the armor, smart Hulk, etc., the changes that occurred betwixt writing and publication would have been obvious to the sophisticated reader in 1989.
Should you want to know more about the timing of the writing and the epic near-fail of how this issue almost never got published, along with several unpublished pages, and the original cover, check out the very long story of it all on Hembeck’s site. You can also see this page (with the tombstones above, a published page). Notice how I put the links at the end of the post so you wouldn’t jump off right off the bat and wander about on some other site, never to return to this one? Clever, eh?