Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Greetings from Battleworld: Secret Wars Week 6

Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #1
Story: Gerry Duggan
Art:  Salva Espin and Val Staples

Much like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Deadpool is still dead. In this domain of Battleworld, Wade Wilson challenged Dracula for the love of the demon succubus Shiklah and lost. His head. And his corpse was put in an acid-filled coffin and thrown in the ocean.

Fear not though, dear reader, for the not-actually-Mrs. DP’s adventures on Battleworld are narrated by Ghost Deadpool ... when his attention span allows for it.

But yes, the star of this book is Shiklah, in a story that is basically “What If … Deadpool lost Dracula’s Gauntlet?” With DP out of the way, Shiklah remains forced to marry Dracula to fulfill the vampire king’s plans for conquest of the underworld. First though, Shiklah makes up some excuse to go on a time-buying quest to properly put her slain brothers to rest. Not content to let his bride-to-be skip out the door dressed like Lara Croft, he makes his most trusted enforcers, the Howling Commandos – Werewolf by Night, the Living Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, the Man-Thing and Marcus the Minotaur with a Symbiote – go with her.

We’ve talked a bit about Shiklah before, how because she’s so powerful in her own right, she never had any reason to fear Wade and therefore made the perfect, most stable partner he’s ever had. It’s those same qualities that allow her to carry her own book. Dracula may be trying to force her into marriage, but this ain’t no damsel. When you can turn into a giant purple monster, you don’t fit neatly in a fridge. Shiklah pwns the Howlers from jump, using the severed head of Medusa to turn them to stone in a bit that owes more to Bugs Bunny than Clash of the Titans.

So yes, Ghost Deadpool, you’re right, “Why isn’t this called Mrs. Deadpool VERSUS the Howling Commandos?” Give it time.

P.S., Matt, I’m with you. I much prefer the old Gene Colan-style Dracula to the Armored Poseur that has crept up in Marvel books and cartoons of the past few years.

P.P.S.: In case you were worried that a Deadpool-adjacent book starring the Man-Thing wouldn’t include multiple jokes about that character’s unfortunate name, there are multiple Man-Thing jokes.

Secret Wars 2099 #2
Story: Peter David
Art: Will Sliney

While Peter David's Future Imperfect feels like it's plopped down right in the thick of Secret Wars, with mentions of Doom and the Battleworld status quo, Secret Wars 2099 feels a bit more removed. This is one of the Secret Wars tie-ins that (so far) just feels like a way to give fans of a certain era something to latch on to. Which is not to say it's a bad comic. Not in the least. After the first issue introduced us to the Avengers of 2099, controlled by Alchemax and its executive Miguel Stone (yup, in this altered reality, Spider-Man 2099 is a corporate cog, and takes after his dad, the evil Tyler Stone, in sheer manipulative amorality), this issue spends time fleshing out some of those new characters. We see the new Captain America, who seems to be a personality hiding in the head of an Alchemax employee named Roberta Mendez, whose husband is spying on here ala Orphan Black. She is attacked by The Specialist, who is the Kenny of the 2099 universe; he gets resurrected by Doom magic just to die immediately again. We see that Hawkeye and Black Widow both have a dark side. We get to see Hercules training by smacking around Junkpile from X-Men 2099, one of those great cameos that Peter David is master of. And after the prophetic end of the previous issue, we get to meet the Defenders of 2099. I don't recall if Peter David ever wrote Hulk 2099 in the past, but as master of Hulks, it felt right. It was a good choice, in my opinion, to step back and let the reader and characters breathe before the stuff hits the fan, especially since the entire team are new characters, with the exception of Hercules, who is a delightful character and one I'm glad to see Peter David writing; after Van Lente and Pak mined so much of Peter David's Hulk run in parts of their wonderful Incredible Hercules, it's nice to see David take Herc out for a spin. Next issue looks like Avengers/Defenders War 2099, which should be fun, but I want to get back to the Vision introduced in the previous issue, since that character had the feeling of Delphi of the Pantheon, and the only person in the world who likes a retro Peter David reference more than Peter David himself is me.

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