|August – September 1995
|No. of issues
Chris Moeller (issue #2, last 17 pages only)
Chris Moeller (issue #2, last 17 pages only)
Ruins is a two-issue comic book miniseries, written by Warren Ellis with painted artwork by Terese Nielsen, her husband Cliff Nielsen, and Chris Moeller, who took over for the last 17 pages of the second issue.
The series, conceived by Ellis as a parody of the Marvels series by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, is set in a dystopian version of the Marvel Universe. Like Marvels, the comic features reporter Phil Sheldon as the main character and was published in prestige format, with fully painted artwork and acetate covers, further creating the impression that it is a more twisted companion piece.
In the Marvel Multiverse, the Earth of the Ruins universe is listed as Earth-9591.
Former Daily Bugle reporter Phil Sheldon explores a dystopian version of the Marvel Universe where in his own words "everything that can go wrong will go wrong." In this world, the myriad experiments and accidents which led to the creation of superheroes on Earth-616 have instead here resulted in horrible deformities and painful deaths. Sheldon tours the country, investigating the aftermath of these events and researching a book about the strange phenomena in order to prove that the world has taken a wrong turn somewhere.
In this reality, the Avengers were a radical secessionist rebel group from California rebelling against an oppressive United States government led by 'President X'. Sheldon witnesses the destruction of the last Avengers Quinjet with a Patriot missile, killing Captain America, Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man. He encounters a decaying Wolverine, whose flesh is slowly falling off due to the toxicity of his adamantium bone structure.
Sheldon proceeds to a Kree internment camp in Nevada, situated on a nuclear test site, where the last survivors of a Kree invasion fleet are slowly dying of cancer. Sheldon interviews Captain Mar-Vell, one of the Kree prisoners, who tells him why their invasion failed: the Kree had encountered the Silver Surfer (who had gone mad and torn open his own chest in a futile attempt to experience respiration again) only to discover that the Power Cosmic emanating from the Surfer's body had disabled their cloaking devices and interfered with their scanners, allowing humanity to detect their ships and preventing the Kree fleet from detecting a nuclear barrage which subsequently destroyed ninety percent of their warships.
After his interview with Mar-Vell, Sheldon goes to Washington, D.C. where he meets government agent Nick Fury, who attacks and almost shoots him, insisting that he 'proved he was clean' and claiming that Captain America introduced him to cannibalism. They are interrupted by Jean Grey, a prostitute, who offers herself to the two men for $20. Fury murders her on the spot before shooting himself. After his encounter with Fury, Sheldon visits Chicago, Illinois and interviews Rick Jones, a morphine addict living with fellow addict Marlo Chandler, who tells the story of when Bruce Banner saved him from a gamma radiation blast—the blast transformed Banner into a monstrous green mass of pulsating tumors. Leaving the apartment, Sheldon trips over the corpse of the Punisher in the snow. Sheldon begs on his knees to be allowed to show the world how this state of affairs came to pass.
Sheldon is seated on a plane next to Raven Darkhölme, who has developed dissociative identity disorder from assuming too many different identities through her shapeshifting abilities. Having neglected to take her prescribed pills, she begins shapeshifting uncontrollably and dies. When the plane lands, government agents take her body away while a protest against President X's government is underway. An agent bumps into a hippie named Max Eisenhardt, damaging a magnetic dampening device that he carries to nullify his powers, which causes all metal objects nearby to attach to him, killing him and several others and inflicting massive damage to the airport and plane.
Later, Sheldon visits a special prison in Texas run by Wilson Fisk which houses many mutants. Scott Summers was blinded in order to control his eye beams, Katherine Pryde died after attempting to phase through the bars of her cell only to become stuck, Kurt Wagner is self-cannibalizing, and Pietro Maximoff has had all four of his limbs amputated to prevent him from using his super speed powers. Fisk informs Sheldon that the only reason he was allowed to see the prison is because President X knows he is dying and wants to grant a dying man his wish.
Sheldon visits a carnival where Johnny Blaze performs and commits suicide by setting his face on fire. Sheldon interviews Ben Grimm, who describes the painful deaths of this world's counterparts of the Fantastic Four and Victor von Doom when their spaceship flew through a cloud of cosmic radiation: Grimm had refused to pilot the ship due to safety concerns, so Reed Richards hired von Doom instead. Sheldon decides to begin writing his book, which he will title Marvels. However, he discovers that he has run out of the medication he has been taking; he has been infected with a virus passed on to him by his former Daily Bugle co-worker Peter Parker, caused by an irradiated spider that Parker experimented on that resulted in a highly infectious rash developing over his entire body. The virus kills Sheldon, and he is ignored by passerby as his notes scatter in the wind.
Throughout the story, there are breaks within scenes that briefly describe the lives of other would-be Marvels; such as a version of Dr. Donald Blake, a cult leader who believes he can channel the entity Thor through his body after becoming addicted to fly-agaric mushrooms. Thor's hammer is seen to be recovered at the site of the destroyed Quinjet at the start, hinting that the two are possibly different people. Warren Worthington III serves President X in exchange for keeping his mutant nature a secret. Bucky Barnes, Jack Munroe, and Victor Creed are part of a fascist cannibalistic militia from Oklahoma. Matt Murdock died as a child after a crashing truck caused radioactive material to strike him in the face. Doctor Strange, a founding member of the Avengers, is missing. Beaubier twins Jeanne-Marie and Jean-Paul are homeless and fused together by their elbows; Jeanne-Marie is unaware that her brother is dead. Amora is a porn star accused of killing her producer with "magic". Emma Frost owns the Church of the Next Generation, where she legally adopts the children of her followers and has them undergo surgery to unlock their "psychic abilities". Zelda DuBois is a circus performer who performs illegal acts with a python. Hawkeye is executed due to being a member of the Avengers. T'Challa is imprisoned due to his affiliation with the Black Panther Party. The Scarlet Witch (a former member of the Avengers) is the one who betrays the Avengers for government protection after turning in state's evidence against the team. Galactus, who is thought to have been a god by the media, is found dead with his floating corpse being identified near Mars.
In 2009, the series was collected into a single volume.