GROOT / SECRET WARS / RENEW YOUR VOWS / ARMOR WARS / YEARS of FUTURE PAST [Reviews]: Beginning is the End is the Beginning!
This is it. The beginning of the end of the Marvel Universe, Yes, yes…the Secret Wars have been going on for a while, but this is IT! We here at GodHatesGeeks are taking a close look at the crossover event of the year, and just what titles are worth your time, money, and eye-muscle strength. “El Sacerdote” here, and I’m here to help you take a look at what’s going down.
As the comic opens, we are brought to the brink of the impending collision of Earth-1610 (the Ultimate Universe) and Earth-1616 (the “traditional” Marvel Universe). It is the calm before the storm, and it is tense. In a story as sprawling, thrilling, action-packed, bombastic, and epic (“epic” in the proper, literary stance, not in the modern way the word is used). Jonathan Hickman (The Manhattan Projects, The Secret Warriors) writes in enough moments for each character to have their moment to shine, and there are more characters packed into these 50 pages than would have thought possible. As the beginning of the end of the Secret Wars (as it’s been quite a build-up these past few months), this story has it all.
Esad Ribic’s (Namor: The Sub-mariner) art has a great sense of scale and perspective, making the action very concise and easy to follow. And everywhere our familiar Marvel heroes wear the most weary expression of desperation on their faces. And desperate they are, as the destruction of both worlds is a foregone conclusion, and only Reed Richards (both of them, from both universes) has a desperate plan save at least a few of our favorite characters. And there are little moments sprinkled here and there that add a lot of emotion, and a bit of unexpected humor (such as the Kingpin inviting super-villains out to watch the end of the universe from a bar, up until the Punisher shows up to get one last mission) that is refreshing. As much as it’s all about the explosions and fighting, the pace definitely builds and ebbs throughout, jumping from grand action to quieter character moments in a beat, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
And as the story winds down and we see our heroes fall one by one, the story winds down to quiet, intimate moments that have so much heft and emotion that it is surprising that it is the climax of a massive, multiverse-ending, multi-title crossover event catalogue revamping. And it’s beautiful. No matter what happens to the Marvel Universe after this moment, readers should be hooked and ready to follow whatever develops after this event. 5/5 Exploding Earths.
A few things real quick: 1.) I love Spider-Man. 2.) I loved Spider-Man married to Mary Jane. 3.) I still think that “One More Day” was a horrible storyline–which is why I have been waiting for Marvel to fix that horrendous decision that was “One More Day,” even J. Michael Straczynski said it was a bad idea. Welp, it seems I’m going to have to wait a little while longer. As much as I loved Dan Slott’s (She-Hulk, Silver Surfer) Amazing Spider-Man run, this one felt as if Marvel told Slott to show that if Spider-Man stayed with Mary Jane… everything would go to hell and the X-Men would die, the Avengers would die and then we the readers would go “oh! Joe Q was right! He needs to stay single!” Adam Kubert’s (Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four) artwork is phenomenal, as usual. His Venom was spot on, creepy, and great. His lines are always clear and vibrant, and there is never anything bad to say about the Kubert Brothers, whatsoever.
The way Slott portrays Pete and his inner monologue was spectacular in the ish, and it’s not hard to feel for Spidey during his sprawl with Venom with lines like: “My fists are just wet sacks of meat at this point.” Unconsciously, you might even form a fist as you read that line just to imagine the pain. Slott has you feeling that this fight between Spider-Man and Venom — with the Parker family on the line — is the end all/be all fight. However, the premise behind this story felt like it was a major let down. If you have been hoping for a resolution between the Parker/Watson marriage and hoped for something to come out of this, well, as Tyrion Lannister might say: “if you came looking for justice, you have come to the wrong place.” 2.5/5 Bibles.
If someone locked the Animaniacs in a room with a case of Mountain Dew and 20 pounds of Pixie Sticks and asked them to write a serious comic about the eternal conflict between the Avengers and the X-Men, Giant-Size Little Marvel AvX would be the final product. From the writer Skottie Young (Human Torch), to artist…also…Skottie Young! (New Warriors), this title is an insane, adorable, little look at one of the craziest iterations of the Marvel Universe since Deadpool became a recurring character. An irreverent romp within the Marvel universe, a hungry Deadpool, Spider-Man, and others attempt to sate their hunger by ordering from food trucks manned by Captain America, Wolverine, a creepy ‘stache-wearing Tony Stark and more. If you love cheesy puns, non-sequiturs, and hungry mutant babies, GSLMAvX is right up your Alley. 4/5 Snarky Bibles.
Years of Future Past #1 by Marguerite Bennett (Batgirl, Deadline), is slightly interesting. The main mutant seems to be Christina Pride, the very last mutant actually born into existence. The world is a walking hell (typical X-men plot). Collars have been put on mutants to suppress powers… Again… And Christina is the last hope to save the mutant race. It’s kind of a rehashing of every mutant story told since the 60s. Honestly, it was one big deja vu reading. The art by Mike Norton (Runaways, All-New Atom) gives that mid-90s X-Men feel, but it’s not enough to save from the repetition of Comics of Future Past. I love me some X-men, but I probably won’t be keeping with these adventures (despite how hot Cameron, Wolverine’s son, may be). 2.5/5 Sentinels.
X-tinction Agenda did not lie on its cover: This issue was definitely jam packed full of action. So much action, action, ACTION–that there was no story to tell. Despite having enjoyed the near entire Secret Wars event thus far, this ish just fizzled for me. But here goes… The Good: Carmine di Giandomenico (Conan the Barbarian, Spider-Man: Noir) did a splendid job with the artwork, as I thankfully recognize all of the characters (Hey, that’s been a problem for some!). I’ve never seen Anole look so bad ass! The way Giandomenico displayed their powers was exciting too. Rogue’s “Colossus’ fastball special” looked as if it was gonna be insane! On another tip, your host-with-the-most really enjoyed seeing Rachel Grey in a position of leadership. She has been getting a raw deal in comics lately. I mean, she is former host of the Phoenix force, daughter of Scott and Jean and was trained to be a mutant bounty hunter. This chick is BAD! Not bad as in awful, bad as in Nicki-Minaj-bad-bitch status. Speaking of bad… Did Mark Guggenheim (Arrow executive producer, X-Men) think this story through? (Maybe too much Ollie on the mind?) Mutants quarantining other mutants because they carry a super deadly disease? Ummmm…With all the healers out there, couldn’t someone — hi, Elixir! — come up with something? 2.5/5 Pieces of Popeye’s. *Side note: If Havok is hooking up with Wolfsbane, is that bestiality?
We all love Groot. Groot is awesome. It was an inevitability that the lovable tree alien from Guardians of the Galaxy was going to get a “solo” book at some point, and that point is now. I say “solo” because if it only featured Groot, the dialogue would get pretty boring pretty fast. So, Jeff Loveness (Jimmy Kimmel writer, Spider-Man/Captain America/Inhuman Specials) decided to throw his old pal Rocket Raccoon in the book as well, which nobody is going to complain about. Groot #1 is basically a buddy road comedy starring Groot and Rocket who get into many a misadventures along the way. Groot lends himself to stunning art from Walt Disney Studio illustrator Brian Kesinger, which was fleshed out very nicely in this first issue. This is a refreshingly fun and fairly simply, yet well-done, book that allows us to forget that there may or may not be a massive war of a secret nature going on in the rest of the universe. All in all, this is a fine first issue and has the potential to be the best of the GOTG solo series yet. OOGA CHAKA. 4/5 Copies of Warren Ellis’ Trees.
Have you ever wondered what Game of Thrones would be like if everyone was wearing mechanized suits made by Tony Stark? No? Well, Armor Wars is going to show you what that would be like anyway. This chapter in Marvel’s Secret Wars event takes place in Technopolis, a technologically advanced “utopia” that’s more politically akin to a pre-Industrial Revolution era England than it is to the type of democratic government that fuels capitalism. Iron Man is actually ‘Baron’ Tony Stark, Thor is Marshall Jim Rhodes with Happy Hogan as a deputy, and even Spyder-Man’s secret identity is Peter Urich.
These particular nuances of the world that writer James Robinson (Starman, The Justice Society of America) has created doesn’t necessarily inform the interactions between the characters, but they do pepper this particular Battleworld with enough jarring changes to give you the same strange feeling that Tony Stark has when he dreams about a world where he doesn’t need an armored suit to survive. Much of the intrigue of this issue revolves around the character’s anxiety of an impending war between Tony and Arno Stark and some secret bit of information that Spyder-Man knows that has him on the hit list of a powerful person in Technopolis.
This particular issue doesn’t have any single satisfying story arc, opting to do a lot of setup work with expository dialogue, but it does have the same confidence in it’s own political intrigue that any sci-fi thriller does. Armor Wars seems like it’s going to be a series for a very niche audience, but it doesn’t seem like it will let those select few down. 3.25/5 Metal Spiders.
After watching Mad Max in theaters, do yourself a favor and check out the new issue of Future Imperfect; it’s the damn perfect fit. Although it’s terribly missing a blind musician with an instrument spitting fire. This story opens up in a big ol’ barren desert where our lead Ruby Quartz discovers an old man very down on his luck and in need of a rescue. Typical scenario until this old man turns out to be…Odin of Asgard… Say whhhattt?! But when she brings him back to her group’s camp, things take a big left turn with this stranger and the result is a whole lot of bodies and stucco flying! Wait. Do they use stucco on other worlds?
It’s some great action that ends with a fan favorite showing up in the end. How I hate that I have to wait now to see what happens! The book is written by veteran Peter David (X-Factor, Incredible Hulk) who has been a favorite of mine since way back when. One thing in particular with the story not being on Earth, David takes liberties to develop some new fun slang words for his characters to use. The story moves well with the enigma of how “Odin” ended up in his situation and getting a look at a new society if only briefly. Not only with good action, I hope to find out more in the next issue about these characters. And also I’m going to be secretly hoping for a really big chase scene across the desert at some point. 4.25/5 Bibles.