Welcome to Secret Wars Declassified!
This week’s hullabaloo has to do with Doom showing his creepy countenance :0 How many years has it been since that happened? Actually, never!! Readers have been taunted and misled but Jonathan Hickman has done the unthinkable: expose Victor Von Doom’s grisly visage!!!
For this week’s review on issue #3 proper, click here.
MASTER OF KUNG-FU #2 (of 4)
“Master’s Son” (20 pages) by Haden Blackman, Dalibor Talajić, Goran Sudžuka, Miroslav Mrva, VC’s Travis Lanham
The origin of The Red Hand is presented. The very first leader sacrificed her life for The Iron Fist. Since then, the Thirteen Chambers were organized to properly elect an emperor through combat. The Red Hand have never ruled but they faithfully serve whoever sits on the throne. Rand-K’Ai, Red Sai, and Laughing Skull press Lester for the whereabouts of Shang-Chi. He pleads ignorance, hearing only outrageous claims.
Speaking of which: Shang is training the Outcasts. Even in his inebriated state, he is on top of his game. Callisto wants him to be their master. Shang did not promise them that. He would give them a few tips for self-defense but nothing more. He horribly outlines the most cruel fates awaiting each of them if he were to train them like his father. Words are the worst weapons. Zheng Zu gives Razorfist an appropriate punishment for his failure: the loss of his hands. Now he will truly live up to his name. There is squabbling among Zu, Rand, Skull, and Sai. Big wigs who talk big. Things look favourable when Callisto betrays Shang’s confidence in exchange for a place within the Ten Rings. Kitten awakes Shang from another drunken stupor. Rand has the Outcasts captive. Shang remains hidden thinking that Rand is bluffing. Cy, Rahne’s lover, decided to be heroic. Laughing Skull impales him. Shang lunges at Skull. He then teleports them away. Shang held back out of fear. He now realizes the error of his ways. He will enter the tournament to defeat his father. To be a master, he needs a school. Say hello to your sensei, Outcasts!!
No sophomore jinx here! Mr. Blackman is a real pro at painting this sweeping epic. Not as strong as the first issue but still gripping. Dalibor Talajić brings out the diverse personalities in fine form. [8.5/10 attacks]
Domain #11: K’un Lun
Re-take: Lester (Bullseye)
Bragging rights: Shang-Chi has mastered nine of the ten techniques, including the Nightbringer.
Marvel Team-Up: Shang in the role of Professor X guiding the disparate mutants. Brilliant!!
SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #2 (of 4)
“A Monster So Fowl” (10 pages) by David F. Walker, J.J. Kirby, Matt Milla, VC’s Joe Caramagna
Blade comes across Drákula, the most unusual vampire he’s ever met. This lord of the undead is a mallard! That matters not. Blade and his prey crash into a bar disturbing Howard the Duck’s brief respite. Howard proceeds to bash the human scum. As usual, the necessary-fighting-due-to-a-misunderstand ensues. Eventually, Blade tells Howie that there’s a vampire (make that a hoard of them) in the city. Howard is genuinely freaked out not just because of ‘abnormal duck behaviour’ but because Dracula is also real. The two are decently duking the bloodsuckers when a game-changer joins the fray: Blade the Duck!!! Quack quack quack!! The duo are agog in what they witnessed. A budding bromance begins. Insults and prejudice quickly lead to bonding.
Up-and-comer David F. Walker has hit the big time with the soon-to-be-released CYBORG for the Distinguished Competition!! If I’m not mistaken, this is his initiation into the House of Ideas. He wholly embraced the 70’s vibe through Eric Brooks in his ‘horrible outfit’ as well as lexicon. Most definitely played up for laughs. Howard is always loud-mouthed, brooding, and misunderstood. J.J. Kirby draws an impressive Drákula that has the trappings of a Disney staple. What a kwinkydink!! Disney owns Marvel. Moving on!! His Blade the Duck is total bad-ass. The killing blow was dramatic! [9.5/10 attacks]
Domain #23: New Quack City
Imaginative expletive: “What the duck?” – Blade
Straight-up: “What the $#&# is going on?” – Howard
Them’s fighting words: “Don’t muck with the duck!”
Ducks have feelings too: “Not tonight, Daffy.” – Blade to Drákula “You’re gonna pay for that, turkey!” “I’m not a turkey, you dumb %$#&. I’m a duck!”
Not taken seriously: “Man, you come right out of a comic book!” – Blade to Howard
“A talking duck is questioning the reality of a vampire?” “Oh yeah? I bet you’ve never seen a vampire-cow.”
Pot shots: (1) Howard thinks Blade the Duck has a much cooler look than Blade the Human. (2) Blade’s custom-made goggles are a fashion crime. (3) Howard shouldn’t be clothed since he’s a duck. (4) Blade assumes Howie consumes bread crumbs for nourishment.
“Ross against the Machine” (11 pages) by Donny Cates, Marco Turini, Frank D’Armata, VC’s Travis Lanham
Arcade is making a killing at his Killiseum [natch!] Taskmaster beats and whips Nico Minoru for bailing out early from a fight. She asks for help from Gen. Thunderbolt Ross who walks past them. He is now War Machine!! Taskmaster is threatened. He demands that Arcade eliminate Ross, especially since he’s being hailed as a hero. Taskie already resents the Captain and his Dinosaur. Arcade brushes him off but Anthony (Taskmaster) issues him an ultimatum. Steve Rogers gives Ross a pep talk. Ross is the new face of inspiration and change. Some cynical remark made by Ross is cut short by Roger’s succinct speech. Ross wants to avenge his daughter’s death. Arcade tampers with things by announcing that Taskmaster was the killer hiding among the people. TM tries to make Ross listen to reason but the General is so consumed with revenge that it matters little. Ross throws Taskie to the zombies. He’s a goner. Ross has purpose: he will slay all the monsters. Doom is viewing the fight. Upon hearing Ross’ thoughts, he smashes his wine glass.
Donny Cates smoothly gets into ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross’ skin. How come no one ever realized that an Army General should don the War Machine armour?!? Brilliant!! I salute you, Mr. Cates. Arcade is the epitome of unethicalness. Flamboyant, greedy, and petty. A sleazy showboater if ever there was one. Marco Turini gives a gritty feel to a grim tale. Ross carries the heavy burden of filial loss so tragically. Taskmaster’s mask is unsettling and frightfully portrays the unconscionable killer. [9/10 attacks]
Domain #?: Killiseum
That’s rich! “PFFT, his death would be meaningless without a conclusion to his story. You can’t just kill people to garner sales. We aren’t animals.” – Arcade to Taskmaster
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #1
“Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” (20 pages) by Dan Slott, Adam Kubert, John Dell, Justin Ponsor, VC’s Joe Caramagna
The Parker Luck has become spectacular! Peter catches the ultimate break!! Married to MJ with their daughter Annie filling their lives with absolute joy. Although Spider-Man’s workload has increased big time, Peter is domestic dad with whatever free time he has to spare. That time is becoming increasingly scarce as he has to pick up the slack of taking down foes that belong to vigilantes or anti-heroes. The reason for that is revealed: the thwarters of evil are disappearing or being dispatched permanently. Peter investigates as Spidey. He heads to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes HQ where he sees The Avengers along with on-again off-again members Hulk and Namor, and the sensational group of the 90’s: the New Warriors. Despite the gravity of the situation, Iron Man makes an irresistible offer to Spidey that is too good to pass us. Scratch that. A massive prison break of the worst kind of fiends has Spidey swinging furiously back home. His darker half Venom has broken in and taken the two most precious people in his world hostage. Peter digs deep into his core and unleashes a savage side never before seen. Meanwhile, the ultra-powerful Augustus Roman is the one responsible for offing all the altruists. He has come up with his own codename: Regent. All the remaining heroes say the Big Goodbye. MJ makes it to safety. Her resourcefulness has her hubbie and her worst nightmare in a blazing inferno. All the innocents have been evacuated. Spider-Man enacts some less than heroic behaviour: he kills Venom by collapsing a building on his weakened form. Fast forward a few years – Annie is growing up quickly! She’s walking with her papa when the Vulture swoops by with a stolen purse. Even though he hears the cry for help, he ignores it completely. He really is Spider-Man no more!! Annie is his prime responsibility.
Dan Slott, you are top dog when it comes to plot-twisting!! The hyper-kinetic pace of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN proper has been absent since “Spider-Verse”. Mr. Slott redeems himself here. My assumptions about MJ’s and Annie’s fate was entirely erroneous. Peter killed!! Plain and simple. His daughter and wife are paramount. Plus, he has become cowardly hanging up the webs for good :0 Adam Kubert cuts a creepy Venom, pencils a protective MJ, and sizzles with Spidey. [8/10 attacks]
Domain #8: The Regency
What’s new, pussycat? Peter and MJ’s family has increased by one: Annie!!
Nostalgic Nineties: Avengers! West Coast Avengers! New Warriors! 1990-1992 were good years.
Background info: The calendar in the Parkers’ kitchen says ‘May’. Think about it!!
The secret’s out? Ben Urich figured out DD’s true ID. Does the same apply to the Wall-Crawler?
Onset of an Empire: Augustus Roman. Unusual name for a civvie. Plus, he’s the head of Empire Unlimited. Notice the motif here?
A rip off the old block: Regent resembles Darkseid in appearance but acts like Apocalypse. He absorbed the X-Men’s powers.
Wishbone: Hulk loses a limb due to Nightcrawler’s teleporting. An impressive feat!
Playtime is over: That was the day The Avengers died. That every last hero died. Even “Spider-Man.” It just looked like him standing there. But that was just me. Peter Parker. A dad in a stupid red-and-blue suit. That was the day I learned what trumps great power… an even greater responsibility
ARMOR WARS #1
“Spyder-Man No More!” (22 pages) by James Robinson, Marcio Takara, Esther Sanz, VC’s Travis Lanham
Whose book is this anyways? Certainly not Iron Man’s!! The title as well as the initial eight pages shine on the armored arachnid. Peter Urich (not Parker) easily eludes a hit on him by Fisk’s henchmen. He meets an untimely end when a faceless figure finishes him without breaking a sweat. Technopolis is under the auspices of Baron Tony Stark. The Man Who Has Everything Plus Ten Times More is in a fierce family feud with his brother Arno. He was disturbed by a dream in which he and his sib were carefree children sans armour. His paramour Pepper ponders a time when all citizens weren’t confined by their metal skins. What bothers him more is that no one can remember a time when that wasn’t the case. One of the Thors (Grand Marshal Rhodes) is drinking it up with his enforcers when Happy Hogan intrigues him with an investigation that cannot be ignored. Tony pays a visit to his ‘niece’ Kiri Oshiro, girlfriend to the dearly departed Peter. He is trying to convince her to sell her corporation. Tony presses the issue because he senses something major is being cooked up by Arno. Kiri turns it around and calls him on his complacency. Tony states that it is to honour his father. He’s not the heroic type nor is he above-the-law. Kiri’s world is about to crash down on her. Rhodes vid-calls her and asks her to drop by the cop shop to speak about her beau. Peter is on the pavement squashed like the spider he symbolized.
James Robinson wrote Spidey last year in ASM: FAMILY BUSINESS. This version has nary a chance to shine. This is the engine to drama. The cowardly/nonchalant Tony is an inverse of his usual arrogant self. Marcio Takara’s two-page spread of Spyder swinging is fantastic!! The Webhead seems lighter than air in that heavy get-up. The faces look scrunched up. Is that due to the metal surrounding their heads? [7/10 attacks]
Domain #5: Technopolis
Douchery runs in the family: “Einstein was an idiot.” – Howard Stark vehemently disagreed with the genius’ view on tech and how it dehumanizes.
Jocularity: “Hey, exulted, super, duper, Grand High Marshal Rhodes.” “Ha, not-so-grand, about-to-get-his-butt-kicked, Deputy Happy Hogan. What’ya got?”
Criminal combo: Kiri is incensed that Baron Stark hasn’t made his brother Arno into the “Man in the Iron Mask”, literally! Plus, the Thors could easily eliminate the Kingpin. “And criminals like the Kingpin get smarter each time, learning new ways to maintain a patina of innocence.” – Kiri Oshiro [appropriate metaphor, BTW]
FUTURE IMPERFECT #1
“Future Imperfect” (20 pages) by Peter David, Greg Land, Nolan Woodard, VC’s Joe Sabino, Manny Mederos
An alluring scarlet-skinned beauty roams the desert. She encounters an elderly man. Random! He purports to be Odin of legend, the father to Thor (singular). The vermillion vixen will take her home to Dystopia. Ruby reunites with her rebels-in-arms. They are aghast that her find happens to be the ex-Asgardian ruler. They must present him to their boss in his secret base deep underground. It’s more than a base, it’s an entire civilization!! All the citizens have been kept safe under the radar of the Maestro. One of the telepaths has to scan Odin as a precaution. Her probe lasts less than a second. The Odin impersonator shows his true color: Robert Bruce Banner better known as The Maestro!! Ruby is the daughter of Cyclops. She unleashes her optic blasts to no avail. She’s a tough cookie but her quartz-like body is prone to be smashed permanently! The others try to ward off the green galoot. He feigns regret before he exacts his next assault. Just then, he is asked to shut up. The voice belongs to Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin’ Thing!!
Only the progenitor of the original story could continue the relay. I was really intrigued by Ruby!! At first, I thought she was a different spin on Red She-Hulk. Nope!! I’m thrilled that she’s sticking around since quartz isn’t as easy to crack. Many haters critique Greg Land’s work. I’m definitely not one of them! He always delivers the most attractive characters. [9/10 attacks]
Domain #2: Dystopia
Hello again! Janis – Rick Jones’ great granddaughter
Despair: “There are no heroes anymore, if there ever were. There are just survivors.” – Ruby Summers
GIANT-SIZE LITTLE MARVEL: AvX #1
“” (20 pages) by Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Jeff Eckleberry
The manic genius behind the “baby” variants delivers an all-ages, friendly title. Well, friendly being the operative word. The division between the two largest teams in Marvel history couldn’t be wider. The tots terrorize each other. That is their goal given their youthful scope. Magik makes mayhem when Iron Man melts her Pony Pal. Getting nourishment from street cars turns into a full-fledged food fight after constant one-upmanship. The two leaders’ rivalry is halted when new neighbours move into the Richards’ home: fraternal twins!! Each leader calls dibs on the potential recruits.
Skottie Young doesn’t just do wacky, adorable, cutesy drawings. He is a comedian at heart! Child-like renditions of the most ‘serious’ teams in the MU drastically changes perspective. I can’t choose sides since they’re all adorable and act their ages. [9/10 attacks]
Sing-a-long: “Welcome to Battleworld! / Super fun for boys and girls! / You might be ruled by Apocalypse, / or laugh all day at Spider-quips. / It’s quirky, it’s silly, a bit insane. / And Doc Ock might try to eat your brain, / but there’s a special place / in the land of Metal Face / where every night and day / on Avengers Street and X-Men Way / the kids all jump for joy / but never share their toys / they’re all the best of friends / they’re sure to make you grinnnnnn / it’s Giant-Size Little Marvel / Avengers vs. X-Mennnnnn!!!”
Domain # 17: Marville
This ain’t Sesame Street! Avengers Street intersects with X-Men Way.
Soul food: A truce is called between Magik and Iron Man since it’s pizza night 😛
Puppy love: Black Widow thinks Hawkeye is smitten with Magik. Jealous, much?
Lame delivery: Cyclops pulls off a joke when he tells Storm to ‘make it rain’. Spidey is not impressed in the least. He and Deadpool are the funny ones.
Nothing better to say? “It’s an eye for an eye.” – Magneto refuses to give Cyke props for that one-liner. “Yeah, they just missed us by an eye.” – Cap thinks Cyke is the worst punster.
R U in the right ‘hood? Spider-Gwen!!! Looks like she’s dimension-hopping again!
Stark, small-scale slimeball: Spider-Gwen refuses his advances because even as a child he has facial hair which rightfully creeps her out!
Nah! Couldn’t be!! I have the feeling the twins are none other than Pietro and Wanda Maximoff!! That would create a compelling conflict: Pietro could go for team X, Wanda sides with team A.
X-TINCTION AGENDA #1
“Visit Genosha!” (20 pages) by Marc Guggenheim, Carmine di Giandomenico, Nolan Woodard, VC’s Cory Petit
Genosha will always be a blemish in mutant history. Even at its acme, it was founded by Mutate slaves: brainwashed, broken, beaten. The freedom fighters Press Gang (Havok, Wolfsbane, Chief Magistrate Anderson, Rictor, Karma, Bulletproof, Wicked) haven’t fared any better despite their indefatigable efforts. Some new contagion has arisen, picking off the inhabitants. The PG is trying to quell a food riot. It is the third day. Professor X appears to the unruly citizens. His presence alone is enough to stop them in their tracks. He makes an impassioned speech. Elections are coming up soon. The people have spoken! In reality, Charles Xavier is no longer of this world. Mystique is impersonating him!! A brief interlude has Havok and Wolfsbane visit Lord Doom. He is furious that they have left Genosha. He doesn’t want to be infected with the Extinction Virus. Their pleas for aid fall on deaf ears. He suggests they speak to Baron Rachel Grey. Doom really abhors mutants.
Wolfsbane wants Phoenix to send over Triage and Rogue. His healing powers and her absorption abilities should eradicate the virus. Phoenix refuses. Chief Anderson suggests they travel to X-Topia and retrieve them. Parallel conversations: Beast assures Rachel she’s doing the right thing by overlooking the Genosha predicament; Rahne tries to convince Alex of the plan. An appearance by his older brother the morning after asking him to not bother is all the persuasion he needs to carry out the mission. The divided camps engage in combat. Chief Anderson contacts Genegineer Kluge. They will bring the two mutants within a few hours. The amoral scientist is somewhat distracted as he’s experimenting on a corpse. Is that Wolverine???
Marc Guggenheim returns to a familiar franchise having penned YOUNG X-MEN seven years ago. He emphasizes the imminent disappearance of an entire race quite poignantly especially through Wolfsbane. It is horrifying to see that the remaining X-teams have turned their backs on their friends. Carmine di Giandomenico is accurate with Wolfsbane’s lupine features. She may be like that on the exterior but she is the most human of them all. Havok is an honourable man trying to do the right thing that has been too far. The villains’ features reflect their rottenness. [6.5/10 attacks]
Domain #?: X-Topia
X-Cessive: X-Men, X-Force, X-Caliber, X-Genesis, The Uncannies, The Newer Mutants
YEARS of FUTURE PAST #1
“” (30 pages) by Marguerite Bennett, Mike Norton, FCO Plascencia, VC’s Joe Caramagna
Chrissie Pryde is wandering alone the streets of NYC. She’s searching for meds when a stray tiger pounces on her. Thanks to the timely arrival of Wolverine, she is spared. She and her mother were sent on a fetch quest for food. Chrissie asks Logan if the Mutant Control Act will go through. Logan is pessimistic. Humans have been hunting, killing and/or interning mutants for quite some time. She is a rarity and symbol of hope: the only new mutant born. Chrissie thinks some good has to surface. The two part ways. Just then, a Sentinel has zeroed in on her. Another timely rescue, this time by her mother Kate. No battle. Kate states that she is on official business for the United Doomstates. The two women are escorted back to base. The meds pilfered by Chrissie will interfere with the suppression collars. Erik has to pony up [pun intended!] on a promise he made Chrissie. The not-so-merry mutants have been subjected to their infernal existence for fifteen years.
President Robert Kelly is determined to convince humans that mutants must remain in concentration camps. No mercy. No pity. He is a fervent devotee of Doom. He wants to launch the most aggressive campaign to remind the world of his initiative, televised for extra emphasis. Rachel, Kate, Chrissie, Piotr, and Erik take the last of the chemical cocktail. Acid breaks off their collars. They re-don their costumes and start spanking the Sentinel. Chrissie’s inexperience makes her an easy target. When she receives a blast, her mutant powers finally emerge!! She is covered in liquid metal. Mutant genesis!! It’s a small victory. There is strength in numbers.
Kelly’s aides Martinez and Foster revive Mystique and Blob from their medically-induced comas. They were put in stasis for a decade and a half. The tide turns when the humans inform them that Kate Pryde was responsible for their slumber. Logan and his son Cameron are desperately needed to assist them. There’s a hint of infatuation from Chrissie regarding Cameron. The two youth must survive to carry on the mutant dynasty. Rachel programmed a virus in the newer Sentinel models. Only one is affected but the virus will spread and make it so that Robert Kelly is killed by his own creation. Kate will not permit her daughter to partake in this crusade. She’s too much of a neophyte. Chrissie realizes that if nothing is done, nothing can improve. She accepts. The frenzy is about to get under way – Phoenix senses Storm, the X-Men find humans among rubble, Mystique and Blob arrive to Kate’s surprise, the government aides will begin filming their version of events, Logan and Cameron make it to the scene. Cameron uses his ability to kill Blob. He pulls a Hydro-Man in emerald hue and slashes the bulbous brute clean. Magneto protects them from flying debris. An upgraded version of Sentinel is on its way to exterminate!
Marguerite Bennett is Marvel’s latest darling. Her grasp of strong female characters continues here. Chrissie Pryde is endearing and likeable. I’m glad she didn’t meet a horrible end. She will be the heroine she needs to be as this story unfolds. Mike Norton expertly pays homage to the original storyline especially in his sketches of Logan and Kate. The full-page spread of the Sentinel looming over Chrissie is an unequivocal classic! [8/10 attacks]
Domain #?: The Bronx, NYC, United Doomstates
K-I-S-S-I-N-G: It’s only a matter of time before Chrissie and Cameron become a couple.
Tags: Dan Slott, Marvel, Secret Wars, Secret Wars Declassified