Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Greetings from Battleworld HALFTIME REPORT

Today marks the release of issue 4 of Secret Wars, which means we’re halfway through Marvel’s multiverse-reshaping epic. Seems like a good time to take stock of what’s come so far. And so far, most of what Matt and I have read has been thoroughly enjoyable. With that in mind, here’s a power-ranking of the Secret Wars titles to date.

X-Men ’92 (Dan): An amazingly faithful extension of the old Saturday morning cartoon show, and the best of the books by my accounting, though admittedly it’s among the least involved in the larger Secret Wars story. I would love love LOVE if this series carried on into All-New, All-Different Marvel.

Thors (Dan): This book about Battleworld’s hammer-wielding enforcers of the will of Doom is a spot-on police procedural, right down to the angry captain, the forensics nerd and the drunk racist cop. Who killed all those Jane Fosters? I can’t wait to find out.

Secret Wars (Dan): The first issue of the main book felt more like what should have been the last issue of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run, but it redeemed itself quite nicely with issues 2 and 3, exploring and explaining the mysteries of Battleworld. One of my favorite Secret Wars moments comes in issue 3, when 616 Reed Richards learns the universe was saved by Dr. Doom, who is Battleworld’s god. Imagine what happens when he finds out what became of the rest of his family.

Future Imperfect (Matt): It's not like most of these regions of Battleworld are cheery, but Dystopia, home of the Maestro, might be the darkest. In a world populated by Peter David characters, always a good sign, we see a cunning evil Hulk getting ready to wipe out the resistance to his reign, but even evil Hulks can't smash everything easily, especially when the ever-lovin' blue eyed Thing standing against him. Peter David at his best.

Giant Size Little Marvels: A Vs. X (Matt): I love all ages comics. I love Skottie Young's art. So a story where kids versions of the X-Men and Avengers duke it out in cute and wacky hi jinks is a perfect fit. It's charming, funny, and yet still finds a way to reference the overall Secret Wars more than some of the more traditional tie-ins.

MODOK: Assassin (Dan): What’s yellow and pink and red all over? This fun, violent series from Chris Yost and Amilcar Pinna featuring America’s favorite big-headed Metal Organism Designed Only for Killing and his new crush, Angela.

A-Force (Dan): #INeedFeminism because watching She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Dazzler and a bunch of Marvel’s other greatest female heroes – in their best outfits, no less – punching megalodons is awesome. Glad to hear G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina will be continuing this series into the fall.

Secret Wars 2099 (Matt): Peter David once again goes back to his previous work, only this time with a twist. Sure, Spider-Man 2099 is here, but he doesn't have powers and is an evil corporate douchebag in this realm. What he does get to do is introduce a whole new team of Avengers 2099, all of whom are tools of evil corporation Alchemax. And the Defenders 2099, who it looks like are about to throw down with the Avengers. Oh, and Hercules is there, who I miss after the end of his Van Lente/Pak series. 

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows (Dan): Dan Slott continues his run on Spider-Man by giving longtime readers what they’ve long been denied – the reunion of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson – but then having Peter quit being Spider-Man after his family is threatened. Watching Peter give zero f---s about a supervillain defeating the Avengers and taking over New York City was among the great end-of-first-issue shockers of the early Secret Wars issues.

Infinity Gauntlet (Matt): The original Infinity Gauntlet was a broad, huge, cosmic epic. This new series is instead an intimate story about a family lost in a Battleworld kingdom overrun by Annihilation Wave bugs. It's a well characterized story about survival, with hints so far of greater cosmic implications. And Thanos, which is always a plus.

Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars (Dan): Marvel rewrites history by letting Wade Wilson come out and play during the original 1984 Secret Wars. Now if I only I could find his Mattel action figure mint-in-packaging with the lenticular shield.

Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos (Dan): Deadpool may be dead, but his demon-succubus wife, Shiklah, is alive and well and doing her darnedest to thwart armored-poseur Dracula and his legion of monsters, including a diabetic symbiote-covered minotaur.

Inferno (Dan): You want an old-school X-Men story, you got an old-school X-Men story! Colossus, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Illyana, Madelyn Pryor, Boom-Boom: The gang’s all here.

Runaways (Matt): When Dr. Doom likes an idea he likes, he takes it, so Runaways is set at the Von Doom School for gifted youngsters, and features a ragtag group of teen characters from throughout Marvel histotu, including Molly Hayes of the original Runaways Team, a bunch of mutants like Jubilee and Pixie, and Amadeus Cho as The Breakfast Club of Battleworld. 

Where Monsters Dwell (Matt): A solid Garth Ennis joint with dinosaurs, World War I pilots, and plenty of moral ambiguity. However, as we're ranking Secret Wars tie-ins, and this book has gone half its run without mentioning anything to do with the crossover, I can't rank it higher.

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