Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Greeting from Battleword: Secret Wars Week 14

Dan Grote starts us off this week with Kamala Khan's last adventure on Earth-616, and Red Skull and Magneto make the world's most awkward partnership...

Ms. Marvel #17
Story: G. Willow Wilson
Art: Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring (cover by Kris Anka)

The world is ending. The renegade Inhumans have kidnapped Kamala Khan’s brother. People are abandoning kittens and stealing electrical wires all over Jersey City.

Seems like as good a time as any for Kamala to meet her hero: Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel.

Even with a planet from another reality careening toward Earth, Kamala remains the most adorable superhero in the Marvel Universe. She freezes, she forgets her prepared speech, she screams “Everything sucks except for you!” and Carol takes it all in regal stride, while agreeing to help Ms. M save her brother amid the chaos in the streets (not bad, considering she has a space-raft to catch).

And of course, it wouldn’t be an issue of Ms. Marvel without our hero a) lecturing goons about their responsibility to use their skills to help people and b) learning one of the tougher lessons about life in the mask game. Kamala’s heart breaks when she realizes she has neither the time nor the ability to save a building full of purposely-drawn-adorable kittens she stumbles upon in the search for her brother. Had those cats been dogs, I’d be right there with her.

Colorist Ian Herring keeps the focus on Kamala, muting the world around her – including Carol – in shades of twilight gold.

Oh, and if you liked the cover art of Carol by Kris Anka, better get used to it, as Anka will be the regular artist on Captain Marvel come the fall.

Red Skull #2
Story: Joshua Williamson
Art: Luca Pizzari and Rainier Beredo

What started out as a Thunderbolts-style romp through the Shield last issue quickly becomes a tale of two of Marvel’s biggest bads – the Red Skull and Magneto – plotting to overthrow an even bigger bad –Dr. Doom.

If you were at all concerned that the Skull would be playing a hero in this book, you needn’t worry. He still makes Walter White look like Steve Rogers (whom he still very much hates, btw). He basically keeps Magneto on an inhibitor-collar leash the entire issue, until such time as he requires Mags’ full power. He also keeps a copy of Mein Kampf in his Sentinel-head bunker, drinks a can of Trask-brand Sentinel coolant (“keeps me on edge”) and practically does a Mr. Burns-style “excellent” at issue’s end.

The Magneto of this book does not appear to be an all-the-way evil Magneto. After being knocked out by the Skull, he dreams about his reality’s incursion, where he apparently leads if not the, then some X-Men, including Rogue and Gambit. He also feels a bit broken. This is a Magneto who has been captured, castrated via inhibitor collar and keeps getting his ass handed to him by the only person who can give him his freedom back.

(Then, of course, there’s the whole general dynamic of a Jewish mutant who survived the Holocaust being forced to work for Marvel’s most famous Nazi.)

Together, the two plot to break the Shield, the barrier holding back Battleworld’s nastiest hordes, and overthrow God Emperor Doom. To do that, the Skull seeks to enlist one of those hordes, specifically Annihilus’ drones, by letting Magneto off the chain to rage-kill a bunch of them.

Will their plan work? Probably not in any way they intended. Can the Skull, Magneto and Annihilus go an issue without stabbing each other in the back? Definitely not. Does Sentinel coolant taste good? Can’t imagine so.

And I go back to the cutest realm on Battleworld...

Giant-Size Little Marvel A Vs. X #3
Story & Art: Skottie Young
Colors: Jean-Francis Beaulieu

I love this comic. There are a lot of comics that are grim for no more reason then to be grim, but this one is fun for no other reason than to be fun. From the first page, with Skottie Young visions of other Battleworld realms to the final, where we see Little Marvel versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy, every page is jammed with jokes, Easter eggs, and the delightful designs that have made Skottie Young a comic book star. This issue still sees the X-Men and Avengers competing to get new-in-town twins Zachary and Zoe to join their respective teams. The X-Men's treehouse tour includes a visit to Beast's lab where the twins get mutated, a trip through Iceman's ice-slide rollercoaster, and of course The Danger Room, while the Avengers show them a set of special twins Iron Man armor, a web-fluid bouncy room, and Asgard. Every locale is designed with Young's wonderfully detailed style, and is a sight to behold. There are some laugh out loud funny moments, including a fastball special with Blob serving as a soft target, Avengers paintball, Wolverine popping up on both teams as a meta-gag, and a blink and you'll miss it background shot of Kitty Pryde walking Lockheed the dragon. Oh, and there's Fin Fang Foom, who makes pretty much any comic he's in better. The final pages introduce the Guardians, as I said above, as well as Little Marvel Galactus and Thanos, and I never thought I could enjoy a cute Thanos as much as I did here. Fans of Marvel Comics should be reading this just to test their knowledge of all the characters and little in jokes, yet none of that is necessary to enjoy the comic. Marvel, seriously, make this an ongoing out of Secret Wars and I will buy it, and encourage everyone else to do so.

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