Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Greetings from Battleworld: Secret Wars Week 11

Welcome back to another exciting week on Batteworld. Two number ones this week. First from Dan Grote...

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1
 Story: Al Ewing
Art: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Wil Quintana

Finally, someone outside the main Secret Wars book remembers life before the incursions. Not just someone, a whole domain of someones!

Welcome to Yinsen City, the most peaceful domain in all of Battleworld, born from a reality in which Tony Stark sacrificed himself all those years ago in the cave to save the life of fellow captive Ho Yinsen, who it turns out did a better job of being Iron Man – or Rescue, rather – than Stark ever could.

Like any other domain, everyone is obsessed with Doom’s laws about heresy and not crossing borders, but everyone in Yinsen City gets along so well that when the local Thor – She-Hulk – gets wind of it, she all but brushes it off.

Perhaps that’s because she, Yinsen, and others are starting to remember: Remember the incursions, remember the time before Doom was god, remember their true origins before becoming barons and Thors and Spider Heros.

And then they get a sword-wielding visitor from beyond the city limits who remembers even more: Dr. Faiza Hussain, who goes by Captain Britain even though on Battleworld there is no such place as Britain. The defenders of Yinsen City take her in, because they’re good people, which immediately triggers the wrath of Doom. Rather than throw them all over the Shield to the zombies and Ultrons, Doom knocks down the wall between Yinsen City and neighboring Mondo City, a fascist domain where everyone dresses like Avalanche from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and their tanks have many, many guns. Yinsen is killed, Faiza is kidnapped and what becomes of the others is unclear.

What I like about this book is that it pulls elements from lesser-known but no-less loved series: Paul Cornell’s Captain Britain & MI:13, Ewing’s own Mighty Avengers, and creates a diverse team (all people of color with the exception of She-Hulk). It also has a great “What If?” element in the Yinsen baronage. Most importantly though, it addresses, head-on, many of the questions I asked around the time I started reading A-Force, about how many people remember what came before and how certain characters can still have codenames that hinge on the existence of lands that do not appear on Battleworld. Many of the other books are fun, great reads, but they do little to address the greater mechanics of Secret Wars, which is probably to their credit. This book, like the reader, isn’t afraid to ask “What the hell is actually going on here?”

Also, it should be noted that She-Hulk-Thor’s hammer is a tiny courtroom gavel. Why? “Because I’ve got my hammers right here” (puts up fists). Jen Walters, I love you. Never change.

And then from me...

Guardians of Knowhere #1
Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Mike Deodata & Laura Martin

Dan talks above about how people in Yinsen City are starting to remember incursions and the past. Well, it seems like that isn't the only place where Doom's little fiction is fraying. Guardians of Knowhere opens with an explaination of how Doom killed the Celestial to leave the head that serves as Knowhere floating around Earth like Unicron's head circling Cybertron in late Transformers stories. Well, Angela comes up to Knowhere to find Gamora and exact the will of Doom, to instead find a drunken Drax the Destroyer. We don't get an answer as to why Drax seems so at ends and lacking in his usual drive at first, but the issue gives us some hints towards the end. Drax starts a fight with Angela and Gamora arrives, still cosmically powered as she was at the end of "The Black Vortex" storyline. Rocket shows up, helps get the Guardians away from Angela, and then our team talks. Angela is looking for Gamora because she's breaking the cardinal rule of Battleworld: Gamora is moving between domains. And when Gamora brings up Thanos, neither Rocket or Drax know who he is (and since Drax was created to kill and counter Thanos, I figure that's why he's drinking himself to death). I don't know if it's the cosmic awareness Gamora has now, or just the beginning of the end of Doom's reign, but it's clear Gamora is getting suspicious. It's an interesting first issue that is one of the more direct follow ups to an existing Marvel title into Secret Wars. As Bendis was writing Guardians of the Galaxy before the event began, he's carrying those characterizations over, and I wonder if, because of the Guardians alien nature, if they might be the actual 616 Guardians, not alternate versions. Mike Deodata is an artist who draws a mean fight scene, and the battle between the Guardians and Angela through Knowhere is top notch. More tied in with Secret Wars than many of the crossovers I've been reading, if you enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy in recent years, this book will nicely scratch that itch until All New All Different Marvel starts up.

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