The Marvel universe is filled with side stories that may deviate from the main continuity to tell a tale that could be anything from a fun fantasy to a grim exploration of an unlikely hero. the Avengers: MechStrike series (by Jed Mackay, Kei Zama and Carlos Magno) took the opportunity to meld two fandoms into one and have the Avengers fight their enemies in giant mech suits. After their first run, a new series titled Mech Strike: Monster Hunters saw these mech Avengers fight villains Pacific Rim-style. Amid all the chaos, the creators were still able to slip in a little tribute to a gross death in the Ultimate Universe.
Mech Strike: Monster Hunters #1 (by Christos Gage, Paco Diaz, Dono Sánchez-Almara and VC’s Cory Petit) has the Avengers facing off against Doctor Doom, Venom, Loki and the Green Goblin to save a small town. These foes have their own monster-sized weapons that give the mechs a real challenge. In this battle, the Wasp was trying to evade an enhanced Green Goblin. Of course, rather than swatting at her in his even more monstrous form of her, the Goblin tried to eat her. Thankfully, she shot energy blasts into her mouth before he could finish the job. While newer readers may not recognize this Easter egg, longtime comic book fans knew exactly what this moment was a reference to.
In the Ultimate Comics’ Universe, there was an event that was meant to wipe the slate clean of all its characters. Ultimatum (by Jeph Loeb and David Finch) followed by an enraged Magneto who, after the death of his daughter, took his anger out on the world. By switching the magnetic poles of the Earth, he successfully flooded the planet, leading to the deaths of many heroes. This included the death of the Wasp, who was shown to be eaten by The Blob.
If an image of the Blob eating a founding Avengers wasn’t enough, Hank Pym, dismayed at what he’d witnessed, grabbed the Blob and immediately bit his head off. The events of this series never sat well with fans, and that was largely due to how callously these characters were killed off, the Wasp especially. Although these comics were meant to be geared toward a wide age range, the decision to include such a bloody scene alienated a younger demographic that may have really enjoyed the Ultimates.
Like the first time around, it’s hard to tell if the joke completely lands in Mech Strike: Monster Hunters. On one hand, longtime readers may be reminded of the scene and get a slight chuckle from nostalgia. But considering how fans may have perceived the story, it could also induce an eye roll because of its less than flattering infamy. However, readers who haven’t read Ultimatum before won’t even view this as a joke. All this is enough to wonder if it should’ve been or why it was even included at all — but not enough to totally disregard its amusing presence.
As a whole, the momentary gag did nothing to detract from the overall story of the issue. It was just a brief nod to a darker part of Marvel’s history. Its appearance is enough for readers to remember for a moment, but maybe not enough to be an effective joke. While not in poor taste, as it fits into the story, it could’ve also been completely skipped without making a difference. But in the end, the scene thankfully didn’t take anything away from the creative and exciting story.