Greetings, Nerd Bastards readers, Jake here from The Hall of Comics – where heroes shop. I’m a bag and boarded professional. My passion (and business) is to read, write about and sell comics. In an alliance forged in the stars, The Hall of Comics will be dropping by Nerd Bastards weekly, to bring you the latest word and the weeks best pulls in comics. So sit back, grab a snack, and check out what latest comic titles you should be reading.
I didn’t want to make this a Secret Wars-intensive review, but you play the cards you’re dealt. Today sees the release of many of the bigger titles in the event (and I didn’t even get to Spider-Verse), so I thought it best to look at them together as well as satisfy people’s curiosity. A-Force is a title long overdue from either of the big two, an all-female superhero team. (Sorry, I’m not counting the recent X-Men because that’s an X book first and a female team second.) It gives us a great line-up with obvious classics like Captain Marvel, Spider-Woman, Storm, and Phoenix. Writers Marguerite Bennett & G. Willow Wilson wisely put a lot of the focus on lesser-known members like Ms America and Sister Grimm rather than compete with the big guns who we’ve already seen carry their own books. If you’re not familiar with the gist of Secret Wars, it’s this: all of Marvel’s realities were destroyed. Dr Doom apparently reshaped them to his will on Battleworld, “a massive, patchwork planet composed of the fragments of worlds that no longer exist.” Doom is now the god king, ruling over all them. Each domain, or comic series, is a world unto itself. And herein lies what could be a key failing in the Secret Wars titles. Are we going to care what happens in a world, however long or short this event lasts, that is not Earth? One of Stan Lee’s edicts when Marvel’s Silver Age began is that these characters lived in the same world we did. And it has always been so. Now nearly every Marvel title will occur in a fantasy land, giving the reader, regardless of what their editorial department may say, the impression that everything that happens might as well be a dream.
Planet Hulk doesn’t try to convince us that it takes place anywhere but in a land made up entirely of Hulks. It plays more like an Elseworlds or What if? type story. If you were expecting to get more of what you saw in the original Planet Hulk, or World War Hulk series, you won’t. This story belongs more to a Steve Rogers-made-gladiator who is forced by Doom to travel to Greenland (seriously, that’s where all the Hulks live) and assassinate the Red King (who we’re guessing is Red Hulk.) The story is made even more like a fantasy, and perhaps a little ridiculous?, by the fact that Rogers’ partner/transportation is Devil Dinosaur. The SW titles that have this more imaginary (even for a comic book) basis will be the ones to really test Marvel’s audience. Will they stick around for a year or more to see their favorite characters painted in these versions?
Here’s a story that might’ve benefited from being more imaginary and fantastical. Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars has nothing to do with the rest of Marvel’s current event, believe it or not. Instead, it takes place during the original 1984 limited series, dropping Wade into that first issue. I’m not a Deapool fan and could count on one hand the number of Deadpool stories I’ve read. (‘Not a hater, just not drawn to the character.) But I do really like this idea because of the fact that comics in 1984 like Secret Wars were still a little clunky and were being written largely for a juvenile audience. Plopping Deadpool into the middle of that story should be the recipe for some real belly laughs and possibly disastrous consequences. But it’s a little slow to get there. Admittedly, writer Cullen Bunn, who I’m a big fan of, is subject to the pacing of that era and most likely trying to match it. I’m intrigued enough to come back for #2 and see what happens. There’s a back-up story that uses the same approach, this time with Marvel’s first limited series/mega event, Contest of Champions.
Battleworld is an anthology series, featuring short stories that take place across the different regions of the planet. The first story is a lot cooler than the previews made it look. Under orders of King Doom, a team of heroes led by Wolverine attempt to take down the Punisher. But it’s not just any Punisher. Frank Castle has merged with Dr Strange, making him one mystical badass. It also offers some tidbits that give further insight into what’s going on in some other soon-to-be-released SW series. The second story is a silly romp for M.O.D.O.K. fans. Think of it as M.O.D.O.K. Verse. I wouldn’t mind seeing a title dedicated to every M.O.D.O.K. that’s ever been, all on one team.
Ultimate End sounded like it would be Brian Michael Bendis’s proper send off to the Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Mark Bagley even showed up for the art chores. And truly, it’s not as if those characters got a proper goodbye in any of the Avengers titles leading up to Secret Wars, or even in Secret Wars #1. This series is most likely meant to do that, but it won’t be simple. The series takes place in a region of Battleworld that is Manhattan. So even though it all takes place under the watchful eye of Doom and his Thor Corps, we get to see our classic Marvel U and Ultimate U characters interacting in typical Bendis fashion. An event has occurred that brings the two groups of heroes together – Tony Stark vs Tony Stark, Spider-Man’s identity revealed, all the little goodies that we’d hope to see if these two realties were to meet. So yeah, pretty cool. It’s just a little confusing when they’re all discussing how to prevent a potentially catastrophic cosmic event immediately after we the reader witnessed a catastrophic event that got us here in the first place. Sheesh!
In case over the top, mega summer blockbusters aren’t your bag, there are two exciting collected editions out today. The Locke & Key Master Edition is a beautiful volume of one of my favorite comic books ever. Written by (Stephen King’s son) with gorgeous art by Gabriel Rodriguez, it includes the first two story arcs and fairly affordable for a book like this at $49.99. Velvet vol 2, The Secret Lives of Dead Men continues Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s intriguing tale of spies and covert espionage during the cold war. If you’re a fan of stories like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or even Captain America The Winter Soldier, you should definitely be reading this series.
Alright kiddies, that’s it for me this week. Tune in next week for another addition of “Meanwhile at The Hall of Comics”. Wanna know what else is out this week? Check out the full list of releases at The Hall of Comics NEW RELEASE page HERE.
*The Hall of Comics is the comic book fan’s ideal store. We strive to earn the respect of every collector who walks through our doors, from long time fanatics to speculators to brand new fans. This always-passionate, always-original community is what we thrive on. We’re excited to inspire our fellow fans and share with them our love of reading as well as collecting.
The Hall of Comics is located at 3 Turnpike Road in Southborough, MA!