Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Greeting from Battleword: Secret Wars Week 14

Secret Wars #5
Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina

God Emperor Dr. Doom’s sense of control over Battleworld is starting to slip. As a result, last issue, he got murder-y, killing both a Phoenix-powered Cyclops and Sheriff Dr. Strange, heretofore his right-hand man.

Strange gets a hero’s funeral in Doomgard, a huge statue and a lovely eulogy by an elderly Thor. Then Doom sets his daughter, Valeria (actually Reed Richards’ daughter), on a quest to find The Real Killers, because you can’t spell God Emperor Doom without OJ … wait, yes you can. When Valeria questions the facts surrounding Strange’s death, Doom threatens to kill her in the guise of being a stern parent. Conversely, Franklin Von Doom (ne Richards) vows to “mash into little pieces” whoever killed his friend the sheriff. So there’s a lot of death threats hanging in the air.

Meanwhile, guess who’s not dead? The Molecule Man! Turns out the Beyonders’ multiversal bomb lives beneath the surface of Battleworld, under that memorial statue of him in Doomgard, holding it all together. And he’d really like someone to bring him some food.

Apart from being the planet’s engine, MM also serves as an exposition machine, flashing the reader back to what exactly happened when he, Doom and Strange confronted the Beyonders. All that explanation (and re-explanation of stuff that was previously explained in the last issue of New Avengers) leads the issue to be a little light on action, but don’t worry, we get a glimpse of Thanos at the end of the issue, ready to F up some S.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Strange’s choices leading to and during Secret Wars inform his journey after the event. As the Sorcerer Supreme, Stephen is theoretically one of Marvel’s most powerful heroes, but some of his most memorable moments come when his confidence fails to match his ability. When Doom confronts the Beyonders and takes their energy, Strange flat-out refuses to decide what can be saved and what can’t, yielding total control to Doom, who has no problem making such decisions. A confrontation between the two was inevitable, as was Stephen losing that confrontation. Of course there’s also the question of how he gets un-dead after this, but I’m less worried about that.

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #2
Story by Sam Humphries
Art by Alti Firmansyah and Jessica Kholinne

In the multiplex of Secret Wars books, if Thors is the gritty police procedural, Giant Size Little Marvels: A vs. X is the kids film, and nearly every other book is the YA dark dystopian reality where a hero shall rise, Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde is the sassy romantic comedy where the leads banter back and forth as they fall in love. Except unlike most such movies, I actually like this.

As romantic leads, Pryde and Peter Quill are fulfilling prescribed roles. Quill is the charming, quippy, not-really-a-bad boy. So, basically, Chris Pratt. And Kitty is the smart, feisty but still vulnerable skeptic. Let’s call her the Kate Hudson. Neither of them has any real reason to dislike the other, but they’re both scared of what the other represents. Quill is living proof that Doom’s law is not infallible, which, if word got out, would likely be the end of Kitty, whose job it is to discredit anomalies found on Battleworld. And Kitty – especially after she stabs a guy through the chest with her wrist-mounted Wolverine claws – is a reminder that the 616 Kitty, Quill’s Kitty, is gone, along with almost everything else Quill ever knew or cared about.

Brian Michael Bendis brought these two crazy kids together, but Sam Humphries is giving them a chemistry that almost – ALMOST – makes me forget how much I shipped Kitty and Pete Wisdom back in the day. And Alti Firmansyah’s art just makes them all the more adorable, retractable claws and all.

But if you’ve come to ship Pryde-Lord or whatever their portmanteau is, stay for the classic X-Men jokes. Last issue gave us Quill singing Disney covers with X-Factor as his backing band, calling himself Steve Rogers and looking like Alex Summers. This issue gives us the New Mutdroids, an all-robot version of the New Mutants led by Doug Ramsey (not Age of Apocalypse Doug, to be clear) from inside his technoorganic bestie, Warlock. The Mutdroids serve Gambit the Collector and serve up Chris Claremont’s most classic catchphrases, from “Ah’m nigh invulnerable when I’m blastin’” to “the focused totality of my psychic powers.” (If references like this make you smile ear to ear, then we must again beseech you to listen the Rachel & Miles Xplain the X-Men podcast. Like Val Kilmer says in Real Genius, it’s a moral imperative.)

No comments: