Well, the summer is finally over and it is back to school time. Time to see all your friends again, time to show off those new clothes and time to chat about your favourite summer comics! This summer was a big one for Marvel as it tackled a huge event titled Secret Wars. We have discussed Secret Wars a lot on this site, but as the summer comes to a close I think it is a good time to evaluate how well Marvel did this summer. With the help of my fellow NBC! staff members Creighton and Josh, I have composed a Secret Wars Report Card to get everyone in the back to school spirit.
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Dear Marvel Comics,
My name is Dean Manness. I am an avid comic book reader and dedicated blogger on the website Nothing But Comics. I am writing to you today to complain about your current Secret Wars event. I have many reasons for this complaint and, therefore, feel as though it is valid and deserves your attention. I am under the impression that numbered points are easiest to follow and also keep a reader’s attention, so I have outlined my concerns in the following points. Each point is just as important as the next, so please take the time to consider them all. I would appreciate immediate removal of the Secret Wars event upon agreement with the follow:
Taking on the title of one of the most popular Marvel Comics run’s in the last 15 years and doing so with only one returning characters is quite a daunting task. Of course, no one would turn down this opportunity, but the deck could easily get stacked against you if the execution fell flat. Noelle Stevenson and Sanford Greene had a tough task in front of them launching the Secret Wars tie in Runaways, but with their fresh new take and a brand new cast of characters it ended up being a great success.
Issue #4 is an absolutely fantastic conclusion to the impressive four part run. Noelle and Sanford turn the book completely on its head, something I was definitely not expecting out of this story and one I welcomed with open arms. I praised issue #2 for it’s creative use of the title Runaways and now I will praise issue #4 in it’s defiance of the title. In this fourth and final issue, the runaways team head back to the school. They head back firstly to save Delphyne and Cho who were captured, but also to announce to the rest of the school what exactly is going on at the Victor Von Doom Institute for Gifted Youths. In the second issue, when the students found out about the real purpose of the “final exam” they fled. They ran away from this horrible scenario and left everyone behind. In just a few short issues, the teenagers have come to realize that they cannot just run away from all of life’s problems, instead they will face it head on, so that at least they can warn others. This was an unexpected maneuver, but an obvious one when it plays out. Any student who wants to join them can stand up and throw away what they think is their future, for a chance to do what is right. This issue has some fantastic lessons to take away, especially for teens and amazingly Stevenson and Greene are able to do it without layering on the cheese. It feels real and it feels meaningful.
The highlight of the book is Stevenson’s talent at characterizing teenagers. Perhaps my favorite part of the final issue is that the teens who have the most tension between each other are the ones who end up together. Isn’t that how it always works when you are a teenager. The teenage emotions are kept so close to the surface that sometimes a little misdirection is necessary.
Terrific job by this team and a very clever closing. The final page is a conclusion and at the same time a hanging ending. They don’t put the word “End” anywhere on the page. My prediction is that we will see this team of Runaways again sometime soon. If Marvel is smart it won’t just be the character team that remains the same, it will be the creative one as well.
I have been very impressed with Marvel’s Secret Wars event. I am surprised with how many of the tie ins I enjoy. I dealt out a lot of high grades a couple weeks ago in the Secret Report Card. Sitting amongst the bright spots in the class is Mike Costa and Andre Araujo’s Spider-Verse, with a grade of A-. We are nearing closer to the conclusion of Secret Wars and so some of the early released titles are coming to a close. There has already been a few disappointing conclusion to some books that I was really enjoying. The thought began to creep into my mind that all of these tie ins were going to end in some lame, uneventful way. It is hard to fit a cool “else” world story into 4 or 5 issues with such high profile characters and really nail the landing. Some of the endings have felt a little rushed, like Red Skull for example, a book I was a huge supporter of.
Well, issue #5 of Spider-Verse marks the concluding issue of a story that has been tons of fun and very cool. This time I have good news, Costa and Araujo completely stick the landing in this concluding chapter. They make sure their lead characters (Gwen, Peter and Ham) get enough feature time in the issue while also making sure there is a seriously evil scheme which needs an act of heroism to thwart. The spider team is funny, charismatic and dynamic as usual. This issue and really the whole series had it all. A confused Gwen that isn’t sure whether she wants to be a part of this spider gang and a Peter Parker who has no spider powers but still manages to be a hero. Oh, did I forget to mention Ham who can get hit really hard without feeling it.
A major part of why this book was a success is the art by Andre Araujo. His illustrations, much like the story, is light and fun. He set the tone and the scene to allow for Costa to really have a good time with all these interesting iterations of Spider-Man. Araujo was able to keep the book comical at all times, while still getting a few intense action sequences into a short run.
This series was surprisingly very good and one of Battleworld’s best. This is definitely a book that can survive beyond the walls of Battleworld. If you skipped this mini series, make sure you check out Web Warriors. I have high hopes.
I will start with the good. As usual, Luca Pizzari is fantastic in this issue. His dark rugged art style pairs perfectly with Williamson’s edgy writing. Most of this issue is a battle between Magneto and a defense group of Sentinels, which Pizzari so grandly brings to life. The battle pages are busy and powerful. The art on this book has been great and here in the final issue, Pizzari out does himself again.
Now for the bad. I did not care for this finale at all. In the first two issues this comic threw around some very cool ideas, however here in the third, I found it to be a lazy, unsatisfying conclusion. To catch you up, Magneto was sent to kill Red Skull, but Red Skull convinced Magneto to fight with him and take down the Shield and Doom forever! The Red Skull needs Magneto to make this happen because the Shield is metal and with Magneto he can rip right through it. Well, they storm the wall and in a very anticlimactic way get owned by a group of Sentinels. Turns out that Red Skull was lying. The Shield isn’t metal and neither were the Shield’s Sentinel defense system. A dying Magneto and a retreating Red Skull have one last duke out and shortly after the comic ends.
Williamson is still solid in his character work of Magneto and Red Skull, I just find it all kind of pointless. The entire last issue was building up to this battle and it turns out Red Skull was lying. Feels a little like “it was all a dream”. It makes me think, as all these Battleworld tie ins come to a close, are they all going to end in such an unsatisfying way? Red Skull is still one of the best Battleworld tie ins but issue #3 might leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.
by Kieron Gillen, Filipe Andrade, James Stokoe & Jorge Coelho
With Siege, Gillen delves fully into Battleworld for the first time. He previously made a brief visit with a co-authored interlude for 1602 Witch Hunter which honestly left a bit to be desired. Luckily he is on more solid ground with this series, which features many of the characters associated with his time at Marvel (Abigail Brand, Leah, Kate Bishop & Ms. America). The result is the most satisfying Marvel issue Gillen has produced since Young Avengers wrapped.
As with many of the Secret Wars tie-ins, this series has little to do with its namesake, the Brian Michael Bendis Avengers Event Siege. Instead it focuses on Abigail Brand the heroine of Gillen’s short-lived though fondly remembered SWORD series. Brand was the head of S.W.O.R.D. an offshoot of S.H.I.E.L.D. tasked with monitoring the cosmos for potential threats, an outer space lighthouse, if you will. S.W.O.R.D. was the first line of defense to keep hostiles off-world. Gillen takes this guardian concept and reapplies it to the terrain of Battleworld.
Continue reading Review of Siege #1
by Jason Aaron & Mike Del Mundo
The standard sales pitch for events goes something like this: “Yes, the primary story is limited to the title series. The tie-ins expand upon it. They are not necessary, but they flesh things out more.” Great in theory, though in practice it usually results in a bunch of subpar tie-ins which tangentially have something to do with the main story. (Hey, we put Skrulls in three pages of our issue, can we use the Secret Invasion banner?). On rare occasions you end up with a tie-in more compelling that the main event (if Fear Itself was necessary to get Kieron Gillen’s Kid Loki run, then that whole mess was worth it).
What has been so impressive about Secret Wars so far is not only how strong Hickman’s title book is, but how well the various tie-ins have been handled. No, you do not need to read any of them to understand the main plot better, but yes they do add new layers to the world building. Hickman’s multi-faceted Battleworld is an ideal setting for letting creators loose in a variety of styles. In Weirdworld, Jason Aaron & Mike Del Mundo take full advantage of this situation by crafting an exciting, utterly nuts comic book.
Continue reading Review of Weirdworld #1
by Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson & Jorge Molina
Marvel’s Secret Wars tie-in A-Force is set on Acadia, an island domain of Battleworld. The citizens of Acadia are watched over by A-Force, whose ranks are filled with female heroines from throughout Marvel’s multi-verse. At first glance, this concept might be a bit tricky to jump into; Jim Cheung’s cover boasts over twenty characters with whom I have varying degrees of familiarity. Yet Bennett and Wilson skillfully guide readers into their story so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
Continue reading Review of A-Force #1