Welcome back to the MC2, Multiversity’s panel of noted Marvel experts. The three of us (MC3 sounded weird) are covering Marvel’s straight up CALVACADE of “Secret Wars” tie-ins! This week, we tackle “Captain Britain & The Mighty Defenders”, “Hail Hydra”, and more whilst giving up our own thoughts on the event as a whole! Feel free to join in the conversation in the comments and let us know what you think about Marvel’s latest crossover. Spoilers below!
Guardians of Knowhere #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Mike Deodato
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle
This week seems marred by a number of issues that, while technically proficient, just don’t grab me in any way. “Guardians Of Knowhere” #1 is one of those issues. Instead of doing something completely off the wall, this issue just feels like an excuse for Bendis to continue writing his run on “Guardians Of The Galaxy”. There’s nothing here that feels particularly Battleworld-y except for the couple of mentions that Knowhere was actually created by Doom because a Celestial showed up to Battleworld and Doom cut its head off because of course he did. Though, where a Celestial came from when Doom created the world, I have no idea.
Like I said, this feels like just any issue of “Guardians Of The Galaxy” written by Brian Michael Bendis. The plot is incredibly thin and really only exists to re-introduce the Guardians (minus Peter Quill for some reason, but I honestly didn’t realise that until I’d already finished the comic) and have an action scene before having a big mic drop of a last page. The action scene makes pretty good use of Deodato’s art, who seems to have a blast with a fight between Angela and Drax. The fight is over all too quickly, though, and it’s back to the characters all standing around talking about nothing. Apparently Gamora likes wandering off of Knowhere? That’s kind of about it, unfortunately.
This comic will likely be enjoyable for anyone who was already enjoying Bendis’ run on “Guardians Of The Galaxy”, but the paper thin plot and lack of any interesting developments or action here means there’s not much else going on.
Final Verdict: 4.5 – Skip for now, maybe check back in later when more issues have come out.
Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Filipe Andrade, James Stokoe & Jorge Coelho
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
“Siege” should be something I love but couldn’t fully connect to. You have Abigail Brand, America Chavez, Gillen snark and lots of versions of Scott Summers. There’s no reason this shouldn’t have become my favorite “Secret Wars” tie in.
“Siege” #1 finds Abigail Brand the leader of what is pretty much the “Secret Wars” equivalent of the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones. She and her crew, that includes characters who were exiled to the Shield for different reasons, protect the Battleworld from what lies south of the Shield. Abigail Brand for the most part has a hold on her power but Kang is challenging this. They’ve fought between each other but have also already had to fight off a massive invasion of bugs brought on by evil Hank Pyms. Now something else is on the way, something big and that’s where “Siege” #1 ends.
The set up for what this story’s focus will be might be a little too grand. This, almost like “Ultimate End” wants to be way more involved in the core storyline than it needs to be. If what happens at this wall was going to be a major part of “Secret Wars”, we would have seen much more of it in the main title. Gillen does a nice job establishing the characters and their voices. It’s a real treat to see him come back to many of these characters and his Abigail Brand is properly grumpy but in charge. The way the story flows is a little bit of an issue as well. I don’t like these sort of journal entries we get because it slows things down too much. It allows for James Stokoe to do a really cool double page spread but it’s not a sequence we absolutely needed.Continued below
What really took me out of “Siege” #1 was Andrade’s art. There are parts of it that really, really work, such as any panel featuring a close up of Abigail Brand. He really nails her expressions and body language and gives her the swagger she definitely needs. It’s everything else that ends up being a problem. The body proportions on characters change so often, particularly Kang. He’s at times the same height as Abigail and other times he’s much bulkier and a behemoth. Facial expressions are also a problem because at one point Leah and America have the exact same face with wide eyes and a dead mouth. I like a messier style that plays with form but this was absolutely too much. Rosenberg’s colors, however are very good. She’s blends a lot of bright colors into something almost gothic but unfortunately it’s not quite enough to visually save this issue.
Final Verdict: 6.8 – There’s some interesting potential here but I’m not quite sold yet. The art is too messy.
Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1
Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Alan Davis
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle
This comic is bloody weird. And I don’t mean that in a “Oh, she’s using British slang, it’s funny because it’s a comic about British characters” way. I mean this is a weird ass comic and I feel uncomfortable dropping the f-bomb in the middle of a review about a Marvel comic. Because, boy, this comic just feels completely out of place, even as a “Secret Wars” tie-in.
Let me break it down: the comic opens with a brief history of the realm, showing that Tony Stark sacrificed himself so that Ho Yinsen could escape the cave they were imprisoned in in an iron suit. Yinsen then went on to create world peace as Rescue. Now, this is a clever twist on the Iron Man lore and I really dig what Al Ewing did here. Except, it turns out that was kind of a dream? Because Tony Stark didn’t sacrifice himself and is apparently the president? But we never actually see him so why this matters is never fully explained other than to show that, for some reason, all of the Defenders know there was a world before this one.
This is interrupted by Faiza Hussain, who literally just walks into the comic, and it’s here that things really start to slow down. At this point, most of the comic has been characters talking in circles about weird dreams and how they shouldn’t be talking about these dreams, but they know something is weird. Then Doom reveals he’s been listening in on them the whole time and talking about these dreams about previous worlds is apparently heresy and he destroys the wall around Yinsen city.
Then Judge Dredd shows up. No, seriously. I don’t care that they call him Boss Cage or whatever, dude is just straight up Judge Dredd. And it’s kind of amazing and kind of makes the whole comic worth it.
Like I said, the comic is really strangely structured and makes little sense within what we’ve come to know as the rules of Battleworld. The writing seems to bend over backwards in order to give the Defenders a reason to want to rebel against Doom just so not-Judge Dredd can intervene. Thankfully, having Alan Davis on board makes sure that the comic at least looks good, but he doesn’t have a whole lot to do here as most of the comic is just characters standing around talking and it’s hard for even the best artist to make that visually interesting.
Final Verdict: 4.9 – I really was looking forward to this book, but it’s kind of a mess and even Judge Dredd can’t save it.
Hail Hydra #1
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Roland Boschi
Reviewed by James Johnston
If you’re familiar with improv then you’re familiar with the rule of Yes And. If someone gives you a prompt it is your duty, no matter how ridiculous the prompt is, to roll with it and add something of your own onto it. That’s how you create. If you deny that prompt, then you’re just a dick who’s stomping on everyone else’s fun so you can make the show “yours”. “Hail Hydra” #1 breaks the rule of “Yes And” while, worst of all, not having intrigue necessary to make that rule breaking seem worthwhile.Continued below
“Hail Hydra” follows Ian Rogers, Captain America and Arnim Zola’s son, who has arrived from the pre-“Flashpoint” Marvel universe and found himself in a HYDRA controlled section of Battleworld. This is disappointing because the last thing I wanted to read from “Hail Hydra” was the continuing adventures of Ian Rogers, specifically an Ian who offers little introduction to his own story. New readers unfamiliar with “All-New Captain America” may get turned off to the idea that it’s a direction continuation of that series, while others may just not want to see Ian Rogers again. Also, it’s not like the alternate dimension thing helps solidify this as a Battleworld title. Every other Remender book since 2012 has dealt with some alternate universe. This is just “All-New Captain America” #Whatever.5. The guy who writes “Deadly Class” should really call the twin his parents locked up in the attic and tell him to stop working for Marvel and besmirching his good name.
Roland Boschi is fine. I wasn’t a particularly big fan of John Romita Jr. doing Kirby tributes by making everything super blocky and the same kind of applies here. In the dull green light of HYDRA’s army, Chris Chuckry’s colors make the art look like as vibrant Bethesda game, which is to say there’s a lot of brown and green. It’s just not an exciting book, especially with the dull and sometimes deformed art.
Final Verdict: 3.5 – I have to draw a line in the sand and decide which titles are worth my time. “Hail Hydra” is not worth my time.
Armor Wars #3
Written by James Robinson
Illustrated by Marcio Takara
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle
Last time we covered “Armor Wars”, I remarked that it felt like the issue was spinning its wheels and I’m sorry to say that that feeling remains in this third issue. I won’t spend long on this one as it feels like beating a dead horse at this point, but Robinson and Takara give a brief glimpse at something that could be a worthwhile read at the beginning of this issue – the confrontation between Tony and Arno Stark – before skipping to focus on something nowhere near as interesting and forgetting about that entirely. That focus is on Rhodey standing around with his niece and her friend reiterating everything he learned last issue about Spyder-Man’s death, instead of y’know investigating what he found out or anything.
It’s a problem that’s plagued so many issues this week, but characters standing around talking about their experiences in Battleworld or about the plot so far doesn’t make for an interesting comic. What little we see of Tony and Arno’s fight was infinitely more engaging than three characters standing still and talking at each other like this is Mass Effect with the ‘everyone’s in an Iron Man suit’ mod turned on. Marcio Takara is still wasted on this series as his art is beautiful and completely unlike what you’d expect from an Iron Man comic, but the inkwashed style brings a grace to the action that makes it amazing to see.
It’s just unfortunate that the writing feels like it’s trying to pad out a story that was never meant to last more than a couple of issues.
Final Verdict: 4.5 – This series is still just pushing back that conclusion as far as it will go to draw things out.
Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #2
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Kelly Thompson
Illustrated by David Lopez
Reviewed by Alice W. Castle
After reading two issues without much in the way of plot or depth, this issue was a breath of fresh air. With a wide cast of characters, all of them feeling fully realised as people despite how little panel time some of them get, this feels like a comic with a lot going on. This is a deceptive feeling as the plot is actually pretty simple: Carol Danvers wants to be Carol Danvers again and isn’t going to let Doom’s doctrine stop her. What follows is a mission of deception and subterfuge that is a refreshing change of pace for the character.Continued below
The writing from DeConnick and Thompson in this issue is simply fantastic as they play with the Battleworld setting and ask questions in-universe that many readers have been asking and use that as a plot point. Case in point: if Battleworld is all there is, what’s out there in space? That leads to Danvers leading her Banshee squadron on a mission to build rocket ships out of fighter jets in an attempt to commit the worst kind of heresy possible against Doom’s law. This issue sees the formulation of that plan makes for a great story of intrigue, full of tension and conflict among the Banshee Squadron that showcases DeConnick’s talent for dialogue to the full.
This also allows David Lopez to shine as an artist in creating smaller, emotional moments as opposed to the larger action scenes we saw from him in “Captain Marvel”. The artwork has a darker feel than we’ve seen from Lopez as the lines are harsher and the colours are washed out, with a focus on militaristic khakis and greys and browns. It really cements just how depressing it must be to live under the constant rule of Doom and shows just why Danvers and her Squadron want to break free of that and head to the stars.
Two issues in and I would say “Captain Marvel & The Carol Corps” is one of the more enjoyable tie-in series to “Secret Wars” thanks to DeConnick, Thompson and Lopez taking a character known for being bombastic and action-packed and building a story of intrigue around her. The change of pace allows the writing to explore the characters in a new way while the artwork feels darker and more sombre as a result.
Final Verdict: 7.6 – One of the major highlights of this week and of the event as a whole so far.
Inhumans: Attilan Rising #3
Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by John Timms
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
“Inhumans: Attilan Rising” has been one of my favorite “Secret Wars” tie ins so far. It’s been a really cool spy thriller with the Inhumans that turns a lot of expected things on their head. For example, Black Bolt can speak normally and is the leader of a resistance force that’s trying to take out Medusa. This issue is really a bridge to how this all ends because it’s nothing but a long extended scene. There’s plenty of dialogue but it’s battle dialogue. There’s calling of shots, planning but only the interactions between Black Bolt and Medusa have a large weight to what happens next. However, Charles Soule does a very nice job at keeping things exciting but the star of this issue is the art team.
Timms doesn’t try to do too much with his pencils. The action flows very nicely and it’s very easy to make out who is doing what. Each character has a distinct fighting style and he gives everyone an opportunity to shine. Black Bolt has some very cool moments where it’s clear that he’s not jumping into this fight totally unprepared. They were ambushed but you can see how he stays calm and plans every move. I mean, he’s able to best Medusa and she has her own abilities with her hair that should make that impossible. Karnak has some great martial arts moments that kind of add this little bit of hype for his upcoming street level solo series. Poggi’s inks are really strong and bold and it adds this cool almost cartoon look to everything. However, this at times works against the series because things almost come off too light when the story is much more serious than that. D’Armata has a fine color palette if not a little generic. He creates lush enough panels but doesn’t take any huge chances.
Final Verdict: 7.3 – Another issue this week that is more of a bridge to the finale but the action is very good.
Korvac Saga #2
Written by Dan Abnett
Illustrated by Otto Schmidt
Reviewed by James Johnston
I just finished playing the gala level of Dragon Age: Inquisition so I’m not in the right mind to write a review about “Korvac Saga”, another story of political intrigue, high-class gatherings, and demon happenings. I half expected the Iron Bul to show up and make out with Wonder Man. Oh god, if only.Continued below
“Korvac Saga” and its major mystery revolve around the kingdom of Forest Hills (also the neighborhood in Queens, go figure) not being able to adjust properly to its placement in Doom’s Battleworld. If Doom’s new reality was the human body, its immune system is turning against the citizens of Forest Hills. By turing them into giant Abominations. While Baron Wonder Man is in town for a political summit. And the prom’s tomorrow! The mystery is a pretty sound one, but it doesn’t feel totally complete. Half of this comic wants to be a political thriller, Veep meets Guardians of the Galaxy, while the other half just wants to do high-concept alien fighting. Those are two flavors which could go really well together, but they’ve yet to feel connected in any significant way. Who knows? When this series wraps up it might become a cool story, but right now it just feels incomplete.
That said, Otto Schmidt is a rather delightful artist isn’t he? He comes off as a little sloppy at times but retains a unique enough aesthetic that I can remember this book against its dozens of brethren. Weirdly enough, I feel like his art also suffers from not knowing whether or not its meant to be in a political comic book or a monster fightin’ one. Schmidt’s art looks too intense for some of the milder scenes and a little too soft for the action ones. The art, like the world it takes place in, is at war with its own sense of identity. Neat, probably.
Final Verdict: 6.3 – I don’t have much bad to say about “Korvac Saga” but I don’t have much to say at all. It’s struggling to find its place in the “Secret Wars” line-up and so am I.
Planet Hulk #3
Written by Sam Humphries
Illustrated by Marc Laming
Reviewed by James Johnston
I just mentioned that “Korvac Saga” was having trouble with its identity, but “Planet Hulk” certainly isn’t. It’s an epic brawler that can balance the zaniness of its premise with the motivations of its characters. Captain America and Devil Dinosaur fighting Hulks is rad. Captain America fighting Hulks with Devil Dinosaur because he’s trying to find Bucky? Super rad. My major complaint is that Doctor Green wasn’t replaced by an aged Hulk Hogan. Devil Dinosaur could be Gawker Media.
It’s Laming’s brutal dinosaur brawls that define this issue of “Planet Hulk”, which would be super impressive if “Godzilla in Hell” hadn’t come out the same week. Sorry about that, Mr. Laming. Still, your ability to seamlessly transition between t-rex fights and forlorn flashbacks helps add gravitas and nuance to a series that would have been a stale parody without it. So thanks.
Other than that, I don’t have much else to add. “Planet Hulk” was one of my favorite titles when we started this “Secret Wars” thing and it’s still moving along just fine. You don’t really need to add much to Gladiator Steve Rogers to make a comic work, but the relationship between him and Bucky really helps this book hold itself together.
Final Verdict: 7.6 – Still a really fun title and probably one of the more accessible ones out there.
Secret Wars: Battleworld #3
Written by Ivan Brandon and Ryan Ferrier
Illustrated by Aaron Conley, Ryan Browne, Logan Faerber, Paul Pope
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
“Secret Wars: Battleworld” isn’t always required reading for the bigger plot but each issue of both anthologies have offered up some intriguing stories. The first story in this issue, “A Thousand Cuts” by Ivan Brandon, Aaron Conley and Ryan Browne features Mojo trying to keep his inner peace while a bunch of Wolverine’s try to kill him. I have to admit, I didn’t fully follow this story. I have no familiarity with Mojo and I care even less about Wolverine. It’s really just a few pages of narration and then lots of different Wolverines converging on one person. What works about this is Aaron Conley’s artwork and Ryan Browne’s pencils. The character designs are really funky and unlike anything really seen in Marvel books. It’s a nice break from what we usually get and the detailing is fantastic. Everything from seams on jackets to over expressive eyebrows is on point and while the story fails, the art soars.Continued below
The second story in this issue, “Fistful of ‘Changas” by Ryan Ferrier and Logan Faerber features Deadpool with his trusty “steed” Lockjaw in the 1872 chunk of the Battleworld. He wants to catch Devil Dinosaur so he can replace Lockjaw with him. I really like Ryan Ferrier and Logan Faerber but this just doesn’t work as a full story. Faerber’s art is really fun, over expressive and very cartoony. It’s almost Looney Tunes – esque with it’s focus on mad cap action scenes. Ferrier’s writing for Deadpool is kind of bland. It doesn’t really go crazy enough for him and the jokes don’t really feel as silly as they should. Deadpool, for better or worse, has a very specific sense of humor and maybe it’s the time genre here that makes it not work.
To wrap things up, Ryan Ferrier works with Paul Pope(!) and Jordie Bellaire(!!) on a one page Ant-Man story that is really the best thing about this issue. It’s a complete sight gag that features one of comic’s best artists and comic’s best colorist. It’s a very funny strip that almost makes up for this weak issue.
Final Verdict: 5.5 – Total pass. None of this aside from the one page comic strip works.
Where Monsters Dwell #3
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Russell Braun
Reviewed by James Johnston
Quick, guess how long it took for Garth Ennis to make his big return to Marvel Comics about dicks?
“Where Monsters Dwell” #3 explores a lot of territory I didn’t expect it too. After pilot and general jerks Karl Kaufman finds himself in an Amazonian village, he immediately lashes out at the subjugation of the men and refuses to bet created as just another breeding stud. It’s like that one episode of Futurama if Fry had an Irish accent and cursed everyone out for making him indulge in the snoo-snoo.
Phallics aside, “Where Monsters Dwell” is still a very fun comic, if only because Garth Ennis excels at writing likable bastards. It’s one thing to make your character a total jerk, but Ennis knows how to find the right balance and make Kaufman kind of likable, even if that’s only because he’s completely incompetent. Even if the plot seems to make a major detour, there’s still something inherently entertaining about a weirdo trying and failing to overtake Amazon culture.
Russ Braun is as welcome as ever with his pulpish take on the village, depicting a village of bikini-clad women in a way that surprisingly doesn’t feel too exploitive. I wouldn’t call anything that really happened in this comic, politically correct, but at least it’s vaguely reasonable. Even if everyone is the same cookie cutter blonde, that seems to be more of a bad coincidence that plays into Kaufman’s vices than as fan service for the audience. PC or not, Braun’s penchant for expressive characters and uniquely British body language sells the humor in a story that could be super uncomfortable without it.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Honestly, let’s just allow Garth Ennis to keep writing about dicks. He’s not bad at it in the least.
Years of Future Past #3
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated by Mike Norton
Reviewed by Jess Camacho
(Spoiler warning)I’ve really enjoyed “Years of Future Past” and while this issue isn’t really a dud, it does have a twist that makes things that happened in earlier issues a little weird. “Years of Future Past” #3 picks up with Kate Pryde, Chrissie and Cameron waking up giant Lockheed to help them defend the last safe place for mutants. Lockheed has been tested on and now a massive, half blind dragon who helps the mutants at their real last stand. Meanwhile, Chrissie and Cameron get a bombshell dropped on them by Kate Pryde when Cameron is almost killed. That’s right, Chrissie and Cameron are brother and sister. Cameron was sent to live outside in the wasteland with Wolverine because it would for whatever reason be better than living with them with their power inhibitors.
I don’t think this is where the miniseries goes off the rails but it’s awfully close. Many parts of this work but it doesn’t all come together as well as it could. I like the post 9/11 feelings you get from Chrissie and Cameron’s concerns pertaining to their world but it borders on being too much. There are extended moments where they go into so much detail about how they feel and I think a lot of that could be less in your face. Chrissie and Cameron suddenly being siblings is totally Luke and Leia and while it’s referenced as that in the actual storyline it’s still weird. Here, we were led to believe there was a spark between the two of them. It’s different from Luke and Leia because that kiss was purely to piss of Han Solo and there wasn’t really something behind it. Chrissie and Cameron however had moments that insinuated something much more.Continued below
Mike Norton’s art is very good with lots of motion and emotion. I’m still very high on his character designs because there’s such a nice retro feeling with the costumes designs and hair styles. This doesn’t feel like something happening now, instead it feels like it’s taking place in the “Days of Future Past” storyline. This is something many of the other tie-ins aren’t doing. The scenes with Lockheed stand out the most because they’re big and the splash pages are insanely good. Plascencia’s colors continue to be very strong with enough vibrancy to keep things from looking too dark. “Years of Future Past” #3 is a stumbling point for this miniseries but I think this team can pull it together to end it nicely.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Weird twist but most everything else is working.
Jess: After a couple of good weeks, these last two have been overloaded and not very good. There was no way I could get to everything this week and I can only guess that this is due to the delay of “Secret Wars” #4. What I reviewed for this column this week was not all that great which really bums me out. I think this far in I’m expecting the series to do a little bit more to keep me involved but I find myself kind of drifting out of minis that I’m not asked to write about. I think there are some odd creative choices happening all across the board and I do think that some artists haven’t been paired with the right writers. “Siege” was visually a mess to me and it almost totally took me out of the story. I’m keeping this short this week because I don’t really know what else I can say. I’m underwhelmed by so much happening with these tie ins. Also, probably stop launching new things this far into the event.
James: WordPress deleted my first review of “Hail Hydra” which means I had to review that book again. My final thoughts are fire.
Alice: This was… not the best week, honestly. Across the board, I found the majority of the books this week to be pretty underwhelming or just straight up not good. Books like “Captain Britain And The Might Defenders” and “Armor Wars” have promising ideas in the concepts, but the execution was all over the place and the structure of the stories aren’t really conducive to building a good momentum in the story. Then you have stuff like “Hail Hydra” and “Guardians Of Knowhere” that feel like direct continuations I already wasn’t reading before “Secret Wars” and just do nothing for me here. There are some highlights, though: “Captain Marvel & The Carols Corps” and “Years Of Future Past” continue to be very enjoyable and the last page story of “Secret Wars: Battleworld” was a lot of fun and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed “Siege”.
However, those highlights came after wading through way too many books where the initial concept clearly hasn’t stretched far enough to cover a whole series, but everyone involved decided to brute force it anyway.