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 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.
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.
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: