Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Greetings from Battleworld: Secret Wars Week 17

Secret Wars continues to roll on  as Dan looks at the SW romantic comedy/bromance of Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde, while I watch Peter David bring down the curtain on Future Imperfect...

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #3
Story:  Sam Humphries
Art:  Alti Firmansyah and Jessica Kholinne

Back when Secret Wars #4 came out, Matt and I ranked all the various tie-ins that had been released to date. Were we to redo that list today, this book would be in my top five.

Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde is a love story between a space-hopping scoundrel and (the Age of Apocalypse proxy of) his globetrotting mutant nerd girlfriend, but it turns out it’s also a love story between a space-hopping scoundrel and his space bros.

Yes, in the end, Peter Quill gets to kiss an alternate-reality version of his fiancée from the 616 universe, but he also gets to keep the anomaly Kitty was tracking down when the story began: Rocket Raccoon’s tail. Rocket – 616 Rocket, anyway – got iced during the fighting waaaay back in Secret Wars #1, just before Quill got teleported onto Reed Richards’ Raft. It’s another reminder of a home that doesn’t exist anymore, and the people he loved and lost.

But as Kitty returns to Doomgard and Quill is left with a tail and a little bit of lipstick on his face, he also has a new friend in the Manhattan Domain’s version of Drax, an ebullient, pompadoured, pop-culture loving now-ex-nightclub manager who would dress up like God Emperor Doom and break into a museum to save his golden-voiced lounge singer buddy. It’s a Casablanca ending in a movie filled with Disney references, but it works, because if Frozen taught us anything, it’s that there’s other kinds of love besides the romantic kind.

As for the book’s primary antagonist, Gambit has made the perfect villain for this story, perhaps even moreso than when he was a horseman of Apocalypse. Here he gets to play the full-on sleazebag we always knew he could be; the Gaston to Kitty’s Belle, as it were. And when the chips are down, he can throw one of Longshot’s bone knives and run away to sleaze another day. Even when he’s staring down the business end of four Thor hammers (Hey, it’s Eric Masterson again!), he’s got one last lucky, kinetically charged knife to play, because hey, it’s Gambit. He’s a total creep, but he’s a beloved total creep.

Future Imperfect #5
Story: Peter David
Art: Greg Land, Jay Leisten, & Nolan Woodward

Peter David wraps up Future Imperfect with one final appearance from a classic character from the original series. The Rick Jones of the original series pops up as The Guardian of the wishing well that sits at the center of Doom's power, and holds the Destroyer armor the Maestro, the evil Hulk, has been searching for to take on God Emperor Doom. I love the way David writes Rick, still willing to snark and stand up to the more powerful Maestro, doing his duty to Doom. I also got a kick out of Peter David's little meta-commentary moment about Rick's time as A-Bomb; I love David's talent for working those commentaries in seamlessly, so it doesn't come off as too much of a wink at the camera. And when Maestro reaches the armor, we get the battle between Doom and Maestro. Greg Land does a solid job drawing what is a clash of the titans, as Maestro uses the Asgardian might of the Destroyer armor to prove himself Doom's equal. Most of the issue is dedicated to the fight, coming back around at the end for one final bit of commentary on being careful what you wish for. I know there are going to be some people who hate the ending, and feel like it's a cop out, but David lays out the framework well enough that the twist makes perfect sense. It's hard to talk about the ending, since any comment on it will give away the twist that was built in, but I think it makes sense, and as we know Maestro will be back after Secret Wars, it makes me wonder if this was setting up this Maestro as the version in Contest of Champions, but we'll see. All I can say for sure is that any chance Peter David has to gather some of his best characters, and put them together in one mini-series is something that everyone should check out.

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