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Marvel's Mangaverse: The Forgotten Universe That Fused Avengers & Anime – CBR – Comic Book Resources

The Mangaverse was a brief entry into the Marvel Multiverse canon. While some ideas were interesting, Earth-2301 was unable to connect with readers.
The idea of the multiverse is a very familiar concept to fans of comic books. Marvel readers have seen countless alternative realities of their most beloved superheroes. These realities are often familiar, but some are very different. None were quite as different as Earth-2301, the official reality of the Marvel Managverse. This universe, as implied by the name, utilized manga-inspired artwork and storytelling to present new ideas for Marvel characters. Earth-2301 was not exactly a fan favorite. Some of the character changes were interesting, but there were so many that it became difficult to follow the story.
While several people contributed to the Mangaverse, Ben Dunn’s name was seen more often than others. Dunn was previously best known for Ninja High School, another comic series heavily inspired by anime and manga. Dunn’s contributions to the Marvel Mangaverse plot were very clear and expertly drawn, but several other writers created individual stories to take place on Earth-2301. These stories were placed in between Brian Dunn’s issues with very little attention paid to the plot. This caused the characters to feel disconnected and it was hard to believe all of the heroes were fighting the same threat.
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Earth-2301 has many of the same characters and organizations as Earth-616. However, the Mangaverse makes some major adjustments. The first was applied to Iron Man. While Tony Stark, a disembodied head, is the private benefactor and brains behind the Avengers, his sister Antoinette ‘Toni’ Stark is Iron Maiden. There is a lot of extra family in the Mangaverse. Wolverine and Cyclops are brothers, as are Daimon Hellstrom and Johnny Blaze. Each issue seems to provide a new relationship between heroes or major adjustments to a character’s background.
Hank Pym, for example, is a boy genius rock star. He is not able to change size, but he can control ants by shredding a guitar solo. Vision is also a boy genius in the body of a robot possessing many familiar Vision powers. Doctor Strange is a bit older than both, somewhere in his mid-twenties, but he is definitely a far younger Sorcerer Supreme than the Earth-616 version.
The size of the cast and scope of the changes seemed to drown out the story these artists were trying to tell. There are even detailed adventures involving the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, each with several main characters being altered. Many of these changes fell flat with readers. However, the story did have some interesting parts that may have flourished given the time and space they required.
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In Marvel Mangaverse, Bruce Banner accidentally aided Hydra in the creation of a world ending weapon. This Energy Well took power from the Negative Zone, Banner’s discovery. After the resulting global blackout, Toni Stark wiped Banner’s memories of the incident. Bruce Banner lived an enriching life of research, never realizing that the gamma rays from the Negative Zone gave him a secret power.
Namor and Baron Strucker plotted to make a second Energy Well. While their cohorts attempted to kidnap Banner and attack the Avengers, Banner’s power was awakened. Gamma rays gave him the ability to summon gods and monsters, instead of becoming one himself. He summons a large, green monster with a tail that combines elements of the Incredible Hulk and Godzilla.
Baron Strucker used the Energy Well to summon Dormammu, who quickly put Hulkzilla under his control. Tony and Toni Stark each made attempts to stop the monsters, reflecting themes and mecha from Gundam storytelling. After these all failed, Doctor Strange made one final play. He focused Bruce Banner’s power to summon the only god strong enough to defeat their enemies: the mighty Thor. As exciting as these conflicts were, the additional stories in Marvel Mangaverse distracted from the plot’s potential.
There was drama and intrigue in Marvel Mangaverse, but the crowded cast and story changes made this universe difficult to navigate. Earth-2301 made a brief return in the mid-2000s, with a sequel titled New Mangaverse, but it didn’t last long. The promising concept could not deliver on its potential, an occasionally interesting but general unsuccessful attempt to cash in on the manga boom of the 2000s.
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