Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #1
(Cullen Bunn / Matteo Lolli; Marvel Comics)
Beyonders? Battleworlds? Magneto?! For these big, multiple dimension-spanning events like Secret Wars it sometimes seems like not enough heroes really grasp how crazy a situation really is. Lucky for us, we have Deadpool. He’s still the Merc with the Mouth, but he can also add “the smartest guy in the room” when it comes to the events of Deadpool’s Secret Wars. Who knew that in a construct with Bruce Banner, Professor Xavier, and Reed Richards that it would be Wade Wilson that really truly gets it?
Writer Cullen Bunn (Harrow County,Magneto) really brings balance to our favorite, fourth-wall breaking mercenary by framing the issue as a flashback. Because Deadpool lets us know that we’re hearing the story of a tragic encounter where he’s the lone survivor, it evens out his rapid-fire, self aware banter that’s always in danger of being a little too much. Bunn also does a good job at holding Wade back during the few more serious panels, but still getting the jokes in right after.
Matteo Lolli (Marvel Adventures Spider-Man) also does some good work with the subtle juxtaposition of art styles when the story bounces from the present to the flashbacks. In the present the colors are darker, shading is more dynamic, and the lines emphasize the details in the destruction. The pre-battle flashbacks are more vividly colored, adding to the pre-war excitement that Deadpool feels when he’s told that their only objective is the annihilation of the gallery of rogues on the other construct.
But! The real highlight of this issue comes from the BONUS ROUND. This mini-saga of another time Earth’s heroes were toyed with cranks the world as Deadpool sees it to 11. In this Marvel vs. Capcom-esque battle, we move far away from the blockbuster Marvel cast of characters and really get into it. I won’t spoil who shows up, but trust me – it’ll quack you up.
– Myke Ladiona
Secret Wars: Battleworld #1
(Joshua Williamson / Ed Brisson / Mike Henderson / Scott Hepburn; Marvel Comics)
First things first: I’ve been reading comics for a very long time, close to 25-years now, and one thing I have always enjoyed is alternate universes with very different interpretations of characters I know and love. WithSecret Wars 2015, that has not changed. Battleworld #1gives us a glimpse of a world where Dr. Doom is God and master and just about everyone follows him blindly including the Thor Corps. Wait…The what? Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter, Robocop) also introduces geeks to an evil version of Wolverine who is very much alive, and part of a 4 Horseman-like group which includes the Hulk/Spider-man, Ric Flair (“WHOOOOOOO!”) and Ghost Rider. This world’s Punisher — 2099 — has a spectral/Immortal Dr. Strange bonded to him somehow, to boot.
While this Cardinal isn’t sure how all this came to be, it was nonetheless just getting good good just as it finishes at an abrupt 11-pages; though I’m definitely on board of this hellacious ride. Thankfully M.O.D.O.K.’s on deck, and he’s got plans to overthrow Victor and take his place as Ruler of Battleworld. Oh, only by popping out multiple versions of his hideous self to carry out his plans. While Ed (The Mantle) Brisson‘s tale sounds like a silly concept — and it is! — it ends up twice as hilarious as each version of M.O.D.O.K. resembles a familiar hero or villain. As you can imagine, chaos ensues when these turds take this battle into Bickerworld. I wonder what’s next.
– Gary Brooks
(Mike Costa / André Lima Araújo; Marvel Comics)
A new Sinister Six is coming out of Secret Wars and it may be the craziest concoction yet! Mike Costa (God is Dead, Transformers) takes the fan favorites Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider UK, etc and brings them into the 616, where they have to face not only their possible past deaths and the strife that comes with it but also a grouping of some of the more twisted survivors of our friendly neighbor-hood spiders left over from last year’s Spider-Verse. SV gives us a more established view of the Battleworld Manhattan, much more than this weeksUltimate End (review down below), and allows us take a glimpse into who survived and who has risen to power.
Costa introduces most of the principle players and does well establishing the world around them, with very little exposition or rambling. Spider-Verse #1’s downfall may be with the choice of artist though, as fresh off Ultimate FF André Lima Araújo’s style of surreal doesn’t go quite right; instead, he leaves you hanging from panel to panel, with character work that doesn’t flow from page to page; or, more surprisingly, the characters even become pregnant over a panel (sorry, Spider UK). As if this while event wasn’t confusing enough. In the view of your Favorite Traveling Nerd, skip it. Unless you just love oven roasted Spider-Ham.
– Lance Paul
(Marguerite Bennett / G. Willow Wilson / Jorge Molina / Laura Martin; Marvel Comics)
One name. America Chavez. a.k.a. Ms. America. She’s beauty, she’s grace, she’ll punch you in the face. Oh, man–definitely stealing this as my new slogan. A-Force #1 is a great read. Writers Marguerite Bennett (Angela: Asgard’s Assassin) and G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) do an outstanding job at switching at swapping out the more famous superheroes with their just as powerful, often more interesting, female counterparts. These new set of Avengers fight for the citizens of the world, but when Ms. America breaks the laws of the gods, she must suffer the consequences.
With beautiful detailed action and unflappable character presences by Jorge Molina (Birds of Prey, X-Men) and Laura Martin (Planetary), A-Force is definitely sure to please any comic girl geek fan… and of course the guys too–wink wink. Maybe the best part of the comic is proof that sisterhood still exists. There’s less petty bickering here than say this week’s Ultimate End; as heroes from both ends of the galaxy, such as She-Hulk (Jennifer is the overseer of this team, here), and Attilan Queen Medusa, show each other the respect and admiration you’d expect from heroes of this stature. While 20-pages just isn’t enough for this enormous team, I love what is happening. Keep it up, comic book world.
– Eva Ceja
Planet Hulk #1
(Sam Humphries / Marc Laming; Marvel Comics)
In a world where Doom reigns supreme… would be the opening tagline should this iteration of the classic Planet Hulk story arc ever be made into a movie. Fingers crossed for a Planet Hulk movie, but, as cool as this issue was, a decent movie it would not make. Nevertheless, Planet Hulk #1 had its moments. With the multiversity collapsed and the heroes of Earth-616 all but gone, Victor von Doom sits as an emperor ruling over a besieged planet where even the Thors worship him as a god. All of ‘em. Including the hot chick one. Side note: I kind of picture Doom having the Mr. Moviephone voice. When Lord Baelish, err, Dr. Strange isn’t speaking for him, that is. In any case, a good emperor knows how to put on a good show and what better show for Battleworld than gladiator fights? And since Russell Crowe had a scheduling conflict, Captain Steven Rogers got the role as – wait for it… The hero. A hero who lost his best friend, maybe during WWII, maybe some other war in a parallel world; it’s not clear yet. But what is clear is the path to salvation lies somewhere beyond the gamma irradiated home of the Jade Giant himself. Somewhere deep within an incredible land where those who survive are the strongest there is.
Now that the movie pitch is over, here’s the breakdown. Marc (Kings Watch) Laming‘s artwork like an action movie broken down into key frames, keeping a pace that drove tension and time together. There was also enough of a palette change between the different locations that visually one could tell in what land the characters found themselves. Which brings about point number 2, story. Sam (Legendary Star-Lord) Humphries‘ narrative had definite layers, many of which were dependent upon the core values of some tried and true names. I mean, if you can’t tell Captain America is a good guy and Dr. Doom is evil, then you should’ve had a V-8. But the interesting part of the story, most of which should be unveiled by issue 4 or so, is how the archetypes deal with totally new personas, yet familiar circumstances. Especially since there seems to be a plethora of personas per capita. Issue 001 was fun and worth the price of admission, but no doubt the next one built on top will be a better ride.
– Ryan Ford
Ultimate End #1
(Brian Michael Bendis / Mark Bagley; Marvel Comics)
For someone who was ecstatic to see the Ultimate Universe come to end…I keep reading. Certainly the quality of Marvel’s “Elseworlds” line of comics has been polarizing, from movie-inspiring (Mark Millar’s The Ultimates) to downright painful (basically any of that “Ultimate Comics” crud), but the majority of the last 15-years of Earth-1610 has been a thrill to read. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Brian Michael Bendis — who literally “mic drops” on Skottie Young’s Ultimate Endvariant — uses the 616 Peter Parker to replace the one the writer had killed off. Unfortunately, even his Spidey out of place doesn’t save an issue plagued with talking heads. You’d think if Tony Stark met his Ultimate self (and I’m pretty sure he thinks he already has), the dialogue would be a lot funnier. Uh, isn’t the Ultimate line finito, anyway?
Better question: Besides Spider-Man, can Bendis only truly write compelling crime comics? It seems whenever the writer gets away from his element (Daredevil, Powers, The United States of Murder Inc.), his clunky conversation can’t help but get in the way of plot. There’s a Battleground going on out there on TWO Manhattan fronts, and rather than prepare for DOOM, we’re going to talk about it. Explain it. And make sure to recap everything in text bubbles for those who bought Secret Wars #1 and #2. On the other hand, Mark Bagley‘s pencils do just enough to differentiate between the two U’s; although it would have been extra rad if somehow his Ultimates looked more like Chris Evans, Hemsworth, Johansson, Renner, Ruffalo and Downey Jr.
– Travis Moody