Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Greetings from Battleworld: Secret Wars Week 18

Three Secret Wars mini-series wrap up this week. Dan Grote looks at the end of Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos and Red Skull, while I say farewell to Marville in Giant-Size Little Marvels: AvX.

Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos #4 (of 4)
Story: Gerry Duggan
Art: Salva Espin and Val Staples

Well, that took a turn.

Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos wraps as a Shakespearean tragedy of Hamlet-ish proportions, but with monsters. And a ghost, because there’s always a bloody ghost.

In the end, and regardless of the outcome, the fighting between Shiklah and Dracula was futile because, as Deadpool’s ghost rightly points out, there’s a bigger monster up on the surface world: God Emperor Doom. And Doom can’t be taken out with a MacGuffin left on a world he created. Also he has Thors, lots and lots of Thors.

P.S.: Kudos to Salva Espin for drawing Thors that don’t look like the Thors from all the other Secret Wars books. Most books are still drawing Beta Ray Bill even though he (at least one of him) died at the end of Thors #1. And Eric Masterson. Espin’s got funky-afro Thor, lizard-Thor, monkey-Thor, centaur-Thor, a Thor that looks like Marvel editor Jordan White, etc.

Shiklah’s fate in this reality spooks ghost Deadpool – who, like us, already knows he’ll be alive again after Secret Wars ends – and drives him to look up foreshadowing in the dictionary. Writer Gerry Duggan has said on his Tumblr that he has “big plans for her,” which is good, because I enjoy the dynamic between Shiklah and Deadpool. She’s certainly a healthier paramour for him than Death, even if she is a demon succubus.

As for the Howling Commandos, look for them and SHIELD mainstay Dum Dum Dugan in a new series written by Frank Barbiere and drawn by Brent Schoonover.

Red Skull #3 (of 3)
Story: Joshua Williamson
Art: Luca Pizzari and Rainier Beredo

The first two Secret Wars books I read all the way through – Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders and Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde – had happy endings. This week’s miniseries finales, not so much.

One could argue there was never anyone to really root for in Red Skull. The Skull was clearly trying to make himself a mythic figure and a symbol of rebellion, but he was still the same Nazi scum who spent decades plaguing Captain America by doing ridiculous things like disguising himself as a Hollywood producer and the secretary of defense. Magneto has his moments where he’s a tragic figure trying to do right in a world that hates and fears him, but he’s neutered so frequently in this book that by the end you just feel sorry for him. Who does that leave? The snarky zombies shuffling around the Deadlands looking for scraps? Annihilus’ bugs? Crossbones, who arranged this whole suicide mission in the first place?

Certainly if this book has a hero, it’s the concept of doublecrossing, which shines brighter than any of the villains practicing this lost art. There’s also Abigail Brand – a friendly, green-haired face I haven’t seen in a long time – who makes short work of protecting the Shield from the Skull’s insurrection without calling in a single Thor, just a squadron of plastic Sentinels.

So hooray for doublecrossing! Here’s hoping it gets its own All-New, All-Different series and that Williamson, Pizzari and Beredo get to continue on as the creative team.

Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX #4
Story: Skottie Young
Art: Skottie Young & Jean-Francois Beaulieu

The Secret Wars mini-series are ending, and I'm going to miss many of them, but none more than Giant-Size Little Marvel. Skottie Young had produced four issues of hilarious fun that reaches it's climax this issue with the X-Men, the Avengers, and now the Guardians of the Galaxy competing to get twins Zoe and Zachary to join their teams. This issue is, more than any of the prior issues, a showcase of Young's skills as an artist. There are three two page spreads, one at the opening and two in the middle, full of details and characters that you should pour over to see all the details. Everyone will see a particular version of a character that will grab their attention: for me, a child of '90s X-books, it was seeing a classic Shatterstar in Little Marvels style. Who ever thought they'd see that? The issue ends with another group joining in, and there's a great bit about the fallacy of naming your team the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Oh, and the little cute "theme song" sequence at the beginning of each issue? This one includes a panel with a variety of versions of Cyclops (try to name them all), including "Quitely Lips and floppy 90s hair." That alone is worth the price of admission. I don't expect to see a Little Marvel ongoing popping up anytime soon, partially because Young is going to be busy with his creator owned I Hate Fairyland and writing the new Rocket Raccoon and Groot series, but I would love to see an annual special set in Marville, just to see how many different characters Young can squeeze into an issue.

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