Monday Morning Secret Wars 3: Oh God That’s A Lot of Books

The daunting thing about trying to write something about every Secret Wars book out there is the volume of books that have to be covered. I’m basically standing on the wrong end of the firehose of the publishing arm of the number 1 comics publisher in the US. Throw in my innate ability to procrastinate (given to me when I was bitten by a radioactive procrastinator), and this exercise in writing becomes scary as all hell.

But onward I press. This week, Marvel put out eight Secret Wars books (and that’s not counting Avengers World 21, which is technically part of Time Runs Out, the Secret Wars prequel, but I haven’t been keeping up with that book). I’ve been debating how to present a review to you of these: number scores? A one-to-give Beyonder head scale? In the end, I’m going to list these alphabetically and give a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down summary for those who don’t like to read. Anything else would be too complicated.

A-Force #1

A-Force is the semi-controversial pairing of every Marvel superheroine in Doom’s Battleworld, and I do mean everything. We’ve got She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Dazzler, Sister Grimm, Ms. America (from Young Avengers), the female Loki from JMS’s early run, Spider-Woman, and a bunch more. It’s a very thorough undertaking, and it stretches credibility a wee bit. I mean, when Doom was making Battleworld (and we don’t know how he did that), did he really remember all the women in Alpha Flight? There are Canadian comic book fans who couldn’t name all the women in Alpha Flight, but Doom apparently could! There’s the nagging question of why Elektra is considered a “good guy”- she’s an assassin, few Chrissakes!- but I’ll let that one slide.

This is clearly a major book in the crossover, so much so that there’s rumors that it will still be around in the post-Secret Wars universe. Doom is very much aware of the team- the team has to surrender Ms. America to The Shield and the hell of the Deadlands, because she threw a shark. No, I’m serious, Doom takes that thing kind of seriously.

Seriously. Its a shark. Marvel worked Sharknado into Secret Wars. Well done, Marguerite and G Willow.
Seriously. Its a shark. Marvel worked Sharknado into Secret Wars. Well done, Marguerite and G Willow.

I mentioned this book was a little controversial, didn’t I? Jill Lepore, of the New Yorker, wrote a piece criticizing the book. In her piece, she noted that all the superheroes “look like porn stars”, and reported on how confusing it is to keep up with things like the female Thor, Loki, and Iron Man. It was an unfair attack on a book that doesn’t deserve it. Jorge Molina does a great job on art, and Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson do a nice job of world-building here.

Verdict: THUMBS UP

Captain America and The Mighty Avengers #8

Three of the series in Secret Wars are classified as “Last Days Of…” books. In these series, we get to see how these heroes deal with the final days of the Marvel Universe before the incursion with the Ultimate Universe happens (and everything goes splodey). The books are a bit of a weird choice- this series, along with Loki and Magneto. Loki and Magneto are reformed villains trying to fulfill their own agendas. Here, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers are sort of the D-level team, with Monica Rambeau and the Blue Marvel and some other characters that look neat (but to be fair, I haven’t kept up with).

I loved this book for bringing up the huge flaw in the run-up to Secret Wars- why the hell did Reed and T’Challa and Tony Stark keep the impending death of the multiverse to themselves? They’re smart, but no one can be that smart. Blue Marvel and Monica call them on it, and I’m looking forward to seeing if it gets followed up on in future books. It’s a simple trick, but an effective one, and I’m in on it.


Verdict: THUMBS UP

Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #1

Oh look, the funny book of the crossover. Here, Marvel retells the story of the original Secret Wars, except Deadpool’s in it too! It’s an old gag- Deadpool #11 from 1997 does it better by having Deadpool take the place of Spider-Man in a Ditko story. The gags fall flat with this source material, and if this were the only story in the book, I couldn’t recommend it.

But it’s not! There’s a fantastic back-up story with the same concept, but a different event- the neglected-for-a-reason Contest of Champions. I loved this story, and not just because the gags were better. Cullen Bunn pulls off the rare trick of writing Howard the Duck. I can count on one hand the number of stories post-Gerber where the author gets Howard’s motivation and voice, and Bunn nails it here. Add in Doop, Frog Man, Rocket Racer, and a bunch of other loonies, and the back-up story here is a reason to buy.

Simple but effective.
Simple but effective.

Verdict: THUMBS UP (but only for the backup story)

Later this week: the rest of the books (Ultimate End, Spider-Verse, Battleworld, Planet Hulk, Master of Kung Fu, Magneto, and Loki). Sorry for the delay, but this is a LOT of books.

Bonus panel: From Cap/Mighty Avengers 8:

Al Ewing skewers Fox News.
Al Ewing skewers Fox News.

Rock And Roll Friday: It’s The Faces!


"We love Rock and Roll Fridays! But we HATE the Midnight Express and Jim Cornette!"
“We love Rock and Roll Fridays! But we HATE the Midnight Express and Jim Cornette!”

There’s no better way to celebrate the return of Adventures of Ray and the new site theme than with a good old Rock and Roll Friday! And better yet, this is some vintage rock- the Faces on BBC doing their classic (I Know) I’m Losing You! While I can’t explain what’s growing on Rod Stewart’s face, Ronnie Wood is in prime form, and Kenney Jones rips off a manic drum solo. I’ve heard this track a ton of times (it’s on the Faces’s box set, Five Guys Walk Into A Bar…) but never saw the video before, so here it is!



Top Ten List of The Things David Letterman’s Thinking Today, After His Retirement

Number 10: Holy moley, these are harder to write all by yourself. There’s ten of these things to write! Someone get Chris Elliot or Will Forte on the phone!

Number 9: I wonder how Drew Barrymore’s grapefruits held up. She’s 40 now. Boobs get weird after 40. I bet she’s okay, though. Madonna, though…*shudder*

Number 8: I miss Teri Garr. And Bud. And that coffee machine in the old NBC building. I tried to get a coffee machine as good as that in CBS, but for some reason, no matter what I tried, the coffee just tasted off in the Sullivan theatre. Must have been the water. Or the rats.

Number 7: Is my son happy? He didn’t look really comfortable last night. I hated dragging him onto that, but you only do that last show once. It’s like that Daffy Duck routine. Once.

Number 6: OK, gotta buy some pencils- wait, how much are #2 Ticonderogas at Office Max? Holy crap, FIVE bucks a box. No wonder GE never liked me, throwing those things around. Good thing I left before Comcast bought NBC. Comcast would probably have me make my own pencils. Just drop me off in the Appalachian mountains with an axe and cut down my own trees. I don’t even know how you get graphite. I wonder if my assistant can find out- oh wait, I don’t have an assistant anymore. Or Paul.

Number 5: Why did I get rid of Paul? I had the best band in the world to my right. Now I have to use Beats music on my iPhone. It sucks, but the wife likes it…BEATS. (pause) BEATS. I could have gotten 30 seconds out of just saying BEATS slowly on Tuesday. Never again.

Number 4: I’m bored. Maybe I should start a YouTube channel. Isn’t that what the kids do today? YouTube. YouTubing. Tooby Tubing. Ruby Tuby Fresh and Fruby. (pause) BEATS. Heh HAH!… Maybe I’ll go bowling.

Number 3: What if I made a mistake? Why did I give up my show? You can’t give up a show! Look at Johnny- gave up his show, and that was it for him. All he did was sail. Which is great, if you like sailing. I don’t like sailing. You know what I like? HOSTING MY OWN SHOW! And I gave it up! I fought so hard to get it! I battled Leno and NBC and CBS to get this thing, and 22 years later, I got rid of it like an 89 Chevy…Chevy…something! Oh God, that’s my fate. I’m an old Chevy. I’m old Chevy. I’m going to be like Chevy Chase- I’m going to die a showbiz death, alone, unmourned, unloved…why? Maybe I can get it back. Maybe Colbert didn’t sign the papers. Where’s Les’s phone number?

Number 2: Hoo boy, that was a humdinger of a panic attack. I’m glad I retired. No one really cares about doing a show. They just want to go viral for the next day. They’re good, but it’s not like the old days. No one’s weird anymore, not like I was, or Andy, or Bill Murray is today (man, he looks good). I was weird for so long, I made weird mainstream. That’s just who I was. That’s a good legacy. And I walked out on my own terms. They didn’t carry me out. I walked out with the Foo Fighters blaring.

And the Number 1 Thing David Letterman Is Thinking Today is…ah screw it, I’m done. Honey, can you make me a sandwich?

David Letterman had nothing to do this. Blame Glenn Walker for telling me to post it after I emailed him. Oh, and I loved the old HBO movie The Late Shift. Watched that thing over and over again.

Monday Morning Secret Wars 2: So Many Thors, So Little Time

Now that’s a crossover!

Secret Wars 2 kicks off our mega-blockbust event for reals. We’ve finally put down Time Runs Out and finally start the story proper. And now, we know who the real star of Secret Wars is:

Hickman design for the win.

Yup, it’s a Doom story. We still don’t know exactly what happened to Doom (and Dr. Strange, and the last remaining Molecule Man) at the end of New Avengers when his plan to use the Baxter Building as a missile against the Beyonders (and that was an awesome plan, let’s admit) failed. But we do know that Doom is in charge of the remnants of Earth-616 and the Ultimate Universe, which is now…BATTLEWORLD.

But first, we get Overly Vain Thor.

“Seriously, kid, stop looking at yourself in the mirror.”

“Can’t, Odin wannabe. My eyebrows are just too awesome.”

So Battleworld is run by a ton of Thors. The cover for Secret Wars promises that we’ll get Thors for every reality, including my favorite Thor…

PUDDLEGULP, THE FROG OF THUNDER! I am so proud of myself for remembering that the frog was named Puddlegulp from the Simonson Thor run. Seriously, when you get into your 40s, and you can still remember obscure comic book trivia like that, it just makes your day awesome.

So we get a shot of all the Thors…


Speaking of Thor, here’s the best Thor joke ever, from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman:

Meanwhile, we do find out that even if you died in the run-up to Secret Wars, you can still be alive in Secret Wars. For example, Hyperion bit the dust in New Avengers, but he’s alive ag wearing a domino mask. However, if you’re a transgender Moloid, you’re probably not allowed into the big crossover event:

Granted, I really can’t tell one Moloid from another (and admit it, neither can you), but there are four Moloids into the Future Foundation. We know that this sequence involves others from that team; we see Alex Power, Dragon Man, and Bentley-23. I’d be really surprised if these were supposed to be other Moloids, so these are probably Mik, Korr, and Turg, the Moloids who identify as male on the team. But Tong, who announced that she was female during Matt Fraction’s FF run, doesn’t seem to be around. Or she might be, but isn’t presenting herself as female in Battleworld (Doom doesn’t really strike me as being the most enlightened guy when it comes to gender politics). Or she might be off in the distance. Or something. It’s unfortunate.

NOTE: Hickman later tweeted me and confirmed these are not Mik, Korr, and Turg. Just other Moloids. Thanks, Jonathan!

OK, that drawing of Jamie Braddock might be more unfortunate. Seriously, my wife’s eyes bulged when I showed her this. No one at Marvel caught this?

Something I did catch:

Is it just me, or did Sue seem to show…tenderness…to Doom in this scene? Clearly, Sue is a trusted voice in Doom’s ear. But if she’s doing it, she can’t be doing it willingly. When Doom created Battleworld, did he make her forget about her love for Reed? And when Reed finally gets into Battleworld and confronts Doom, will she remember Reed…and his part in this whole mess? Remember, Reed is partially to blame for the end of the universes by his participation in the Illuminati. If Sue is repulsed by what Doom has done to her, and it’s Reed’s fault, could this truly spell the end of the Fantastic Four, and the Last Remaining Superhero Marriage in comics? This will be interesting to follow.

Glenn and I talked about Secret Wars on the upcoming episode of GAR! Podcast. He felt that the story felt like Game of Thrones. I’ve seen parts of Judge Dredd here, as did other sites. But I didn’t mind Hickman cribbing a bit here. The Battleworld of Secret Wars feels like a neat concept, big enough to house an all-encompassing summer event without feeling too claustrophobic. Next week, we get the first eight crossover books of Secret Wars, and I’m looking forward to finally seeing where we’re going.

Monday Morning Secret Wars 1: We Know So Much More Than We Understand

“Here we are folks
The dream we all dream of
Boy versus girl in the World Series of Love
Tell me, have U got the look?”

Apparently, there are no gifs from "U Got The Look" on the Internet. Best I could do on short notice, folks.
Apparently, there are no gifs from “U Got The Look” on the Internet. Best I could do on short notice, folks.

Why am I starting a Secret Wars review with a Prince lyric? Well, WHY NOT? It makes as much sense as anything else.

Secret Wars is here! The big clash between the Marvel-616 (that’s all the comics you’ve been reading forever) and the Ultimate Marvel Universe (don’t worry, you haven’t read them since Ultimatum, so the only thing you need to really know is Ulty Peter Parker is dead and replaced by Miles Morales, and Ultimate Reed Richards is EVIL AS ALL HELL). They’re gonna remake the whole thing, and you’re going to buy EVERY ISSUE (and I’m going to read every issue and write about it, even as I’m suffering from some awful back pain which has no relation to Thanos or the Molecule Man).

So when you kick off a first issue of something that changes everything, you should play by the rules, right? After all, I’m only going to believe that this is going to kick off the big changes if you’ve followed the rules that you set down, right?

Well, apparently, this isn’t a big thing at Marvel. For example. this opening quote from 616 Reed Richards:

“We know so much more than we understand. But we know so little.”

OK so far. That’s a good pondering Reed quote. I’m down with you so far.

“Many believe the white light you see when you die is the supercharged electric whimper of a desperate and dying brain. Synaptic death.

“But it’s not. That brilliant, blinding light is God…”

Wow. Reed Richards believes in God. OK, that makes sense–

This is from Fantastic Four  AU, from 2013. Written by Matt Fraction.
This is from Fantastic Four AU, from 2013. Written by Matt Fraction.

Now, you can argue this quote is kinda fake, because in various FF stories, Reed’s been to both Heaven and Hell. But there is a pretty big gap when Reed’s telling Valeria and Franklin one thing and then telling us all something else.

But to be fair, that’s a little gap of logic. It’s not like, say, Ultimate Nick Fury, the best there is at what he does (which is saving the world), would trust the fate of his Universe in Ultimate EVIL Reed Richards, right?

Oh. Um. OK.
Oh. Um. OK.

Out of curiosity, what did Ben Grimm think of this?

"Pal, get me a bromo. This is gonna be a long day at the office."
“Pal, get me a bromo. This is gonna be a long day at the office.”

By the way, am I allowed to assume that from the cover, Captain Marvel is going to have a big role in this series? Because she’s right in the center of the blast on issue 1:

Either that, or "I think I will take a nice nap. STRETCCCCCH!"
Either that, or “I think I will take a nice nap. STRETCCCCCH!”

Can you tell I did not like the cover of this issue? Let me say it out loud- this was not a good cover for your super-big summer crossover, Marvel. It’s dull with bad figure posturing. Let’s do better next time, shall we?

So Ultimate Samuel L. Jackson sends every flying helicarrier, the sky looks like dreaming out Star Blazers after too many anchovy pizzas, and the 616 heroes decide to get in the gang against the Ultimates-

Well, not really the Ultimates. See, if you read the Ultimates when Mark Millar was doing them, or even Jeph Loeb (hey, don’t throw up over here), you remember the Ultimates as Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Wasp, and Giant-Man, right? Yeah, well, we don’t have most of them any more. Thor is stuck in exile with 616-Galactus, Captain America was killed when he smashed a fighter jet into Galactus’s face (not a bad way to go), the Wasp was eaten by the Blob (now THAT was a bad way to go), and Giant-Man blew himself up saving New York. So, who do we get to fight for the Ultimate Universe in this story?

  • Ultimate Nick Fury (dumb as a box of rocks, don’t forget)
  • Ultimate Reed Richards (EVIL)
  • The CITY (written by Stevie Wonder)
  • Ultimate Iron Man (still drunk)
  • The Children of Tomorrow (was that also written by Stevie Wonder? It SOUNDS like it was written by Stevie Wonder, doesn’t it?)
  • Ultimate Jean Grey (yes, in a universe where all the good heroes died, JEAN GREY IS ALIVE)
  • Ultimate Cloak and Dagger (oh God, can’t stop laughing)
  • Kitty Pryde (who got dumped by Ultimate Peter Parker for either Ultimate Mary Jane or Gwen, mind you)
  • Ultimate Wolverine (who is not Logan, mind you, because Jeph Loeb killed him- this is the Son of Wolverine story you never wanted to see)
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (who shows up and climbs into the CITY, so that’s all for him this issue)
  • Ultimate Hawkeye (who’s probably the best of the lot, as he’s the one who says, “Trust Evil Reed? Have you lost your mind?” But who listens to Hawkeye…)

There’s also The Cabal! Granted, the Cabal is a group of Bad Asses- Thanos, Terrax, Namor, and a couple other world-beaters. But all they do is posture and talk to Ultimate Reed Richards, so yawn.

If you read between the lines, you can kinda tell that Hickman realizes that he has not been given the prime Ultimate characters to work with, but rather the hodge-podge mish-mash after a few too many crossovers and deaths.

This is code for "Yeah, I know, the Ultimate Comics line is due for a bullet to the head."
This is code for “Yeah, I know, the Ultimate Comics line is due for a bullet to the head.”

So, big fight scene, Punisher gets his wet dream of killing all the baddies, the Earths collide anyway, and then we’re given one more thing to believe that really can’t be believed:

This is a lot funnier when you imagine Reed saying this like Anakin in Episode 3.

Reed watches his family die.

His family: Ben, Johnny, Sue, Valeria, Franklin…

Wait, Valeria and Franklin? I’m calling a foul here, because when Hickman was writing the Fantastic Four, he had the future versions of Valeria and Franklin as cast members. So either they can’t be dead, or Secret Wars destroys all sorts of stuff, and we’re never seeing the FF again.]

Yeah, I’m not buying it. And there’s my problem- I’m going into Secret Wars #2 (coming out this week) not buying into the story that the writer’s telling me, and really not sure what the point of 616-vs-Ultimate was, since there wasn’t much left of the Ultimate U anyway.

But at least we got this:

See? Glenn WAS right.
See? Glenn WAS right.

There was one other Secret Wars book this week- the Secret Wars Prelude. It collects a bunch of back issues that in all honesty will make you more frustrated that you didn’t read every Marvel comic over the last four years. It’ll help, but only a bit.

See you next Monday for more Monday Morning Secret Wars!