Welcome to Secret Wars Declassified!
Things are picking up steam as this now confirmed multi-month event enters its fifth week. For those relishing it or not, it all ends (again) in September. This will give way to the All-New, All-Different Marvel. That has been locked in!! The consequences and fallout from this initiative will resume “eight months later”. Eight seems to be Marvel’s favourite new number.
What’s on tap? A baker’s dozen! Out of that: six premiere, six sophomore, and one that bites the dust (yeah, right!) The ladies get some love with four folios featuring fierce females. Five of these series are officially team books while groups are featured in four more. There is one male solo and the spotlight is cast on one lone female. Three are limited series and one is a now former on-going. Lastly, there is one anthology. I will present these titles in terms of the really fresh, the ‘on-to-the-next-ones’ and to the recent relaunch now departing. Doom guide you through these readings!
1602: WITCH HUNTER ANGELA #1
“In Which Something Wicked This Way Comes” (20 pages) by Marguerite Bennett & Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans & Marguerite Sauvage, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Sister Angela of the Holy Order is England’s prime huntress. She and her companion Lady Serah Anchorton track down witchbreed and deliver them from this earthly plane. She has the audacity to attack King James himself who happens to be one of the heathen hidden among the humans. That was a neat little twist! She is the best, after all. Angela and Serah are on their next mission. Their quarry is at the Mermaid Tavern. They fend off nosy Ben Urich. Their target has been spotted: Captain James Barnes of Clan Buchanan. He is guilty of the murder of Lady Istu Ogun. Angela seems to have erred when he does not transform into a witchbreed. In fact, he is something worse – a Faustian! He is hard to kill and is spared when he summons his master. It’s not the devil, it’s the Enchantress!! She strikes a deal with Angela. If she gets to three of her minions, Serah will die. Angela reluctantly accepts. Serah arrives just after the fact and notices something amiss within Angela. Her teacher tells her that the crusade must continue.
Domain #9: King James’ England
Quills are weapons too: England’s greatest authors are assembled under one book! Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Kit Marlowe, and Edmund Spenser. The mighty Shakespeare gets a mention. Talk about star power! This rivals the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen!!
The writers painstakingly recreate 17th century England. The commonspeak versus the formal tongue and academic parlance are spot on! The two artists eerily portray the costumes as well as the illustrations characteristic of that era. Clayton Cowles should get his doctorate in calligraphy if he doesn’t already have one. [7/10]
CAPTAIN MARVEL and the CAROL CORPS #1
“” (20 pages) by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Kelly Thompson, David Lopez, VC’s Joe Caramagna
The Air Force has got nothing on the Banshee Squadron! The all-female flyers are led by Col. Carol Danvers better known as Captain Marvel. Fall in line! 2nd Lt. Maggie “Mackie” McMorrow a.k.a. Big Mack, 2nd Lt. Jolene Saulsby a.k.a. Knock Knock, 2nd Lt. Helen Cobb a.k.a. Pancho, and 1st Lt. Geraldine “Jerri” Quimby a.k.a. Blaze. The Captain has her pilots on a rigorous drill when a distress call comes in. She heads off to investigate along with Pancho. The Thor Corps descend en masse. After their departure, nothing can be determined from the wreckage. Out comes Kit Renner, the Captain’s biggest fan, who is now a Thor herself. Kit lets it slip that her hammer was forged from a star in the sky. Dissension begins to grow among the ranks. Carol confronts Bijoux “Bee” Kawasaki. Bee is a modern-day equivalent of Galileo. Hala Field extends farther than any of them can imagine. Carol considers it blasphemy. Bee points out that Carol most likely comes ‘from beyond’. A mission from Baroness Cochrane turns out to be a trap. Carol rescues the mad bomber. She is ready to rebel and investigate outside the realm. Any volunteers?
Domain #28: Hala Field
Domain #26: The Hydra Empire [briefly mentioned but technically the first appearance]
Mock not the Gods of Thunder! “It’s probably just Thor talk like ‘thee’ and ‘thou wouldst’ and all that crap. Doesn’t mean anything.”
Science vs. Religion – the never-ending debate: Bee holds firm the facts of another world past Hala. Carol is a formidable soldier and fervent disciple as well. Her beliefs come into question with the indisputable proof.
Two Kellys are better than one!! I know that Ms. DeConnick has been instrumental in truly bringing Carol Danvers to the forefront. Ever since Brian Michael Bendis dubbed her this in HOUSE of M, Brian Reed then made it his mission to show that she’s the absolute best. Captain Marvel has amassed such a fan following that the Carol Corps exist in real life as well as fiction!!! That’s quite the testament! Nary a man in sight! The mad bomber barely counts. Strong, confident, capable women please the feminist in me. David Lopez captures each lady superbly. Cap’s flight capabilities seem a little off but he draws a mean dogfight and does circles around those planes. [7/10]
GHOST RACERS #1 (of 4)
“” (20 pages) by Felipe Smith, Juan Gedeon, Tamra Bonvillain, VC’s Cory Petit, Manny Mederos
Spirits of Ignition, start your engines!! The tracks are ready for your madcap racing. Nothing is that clear-cut though, especially if you are under the employ of Arcade. Crookedness and corruption are in every corner. Nevertheless, the Ghost Racers eke out their existence at the Killiseum. PPRREESSEENNTTIINNGG…Roberto “The Hellcharger” Reyes, Alejandra “Nicaraguan Hellfire” Jones, Johnny Blaze, Daniel “Danny Boy” Ketch, and Carter “Satan Stomper” Slade. Robbie retains his championship status. The others have a far worse fate awaiting them. Losers are punished badly. Alejandra feels completely dejected. Slade is a non-issue due to his advanced age. Danny and Johnny have plenty of spitfire in them and tussle with Arcade’s goon squad. Danny tries to make Robbie see that the glory is illusory. He is the recipient of the Ghost Racer curse. It isn’t some professional stunt driver. Robbie hangs with his younger brother Gabe. The boy idolizes his older sibling to no end. Robbie’s competitors really have it rough. They are tortured by Zadkiel, Arcade’s supposed ‘guardian angel’. Arcade is all about the money. Robbie’s unbreakable streak will earn him major profits but it will cost him his life.
Domain #19: Doomstadt
Racin’ d’être: “Live fast. Die hard. Race forever!” Words to live (and die) by!!
This is a high-octane tale as well it should be. The first thirteen pages alone take you on a literal ride as you witness the laps around the track. Footage of Robbie’s “Greatest Hits” takes up another three pages. What more to expect from a book that emphasizes this sport? The premise is hip and cool. This should’ve been conceived eons ago! Pop us some wheelies, Mr. Smith! Juan Gedeon knows how to animate the five spirits. He also makes Arcade disturbing beyond words. [7/10]
MARVEL ZOMBIES #1
“Journey into Misery, episode 1” (20 pages) by Simon Spurrier, Kev Walker, Frank D’Armata, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Elsa wages a one-woman war against the (mostly) unkillable flesh-eaters. Her mission is a daunting task, never-ending in fact. Thus, her livelihood is an abysmally lonely one. All that changes when she’s teleported to the Deadlands and comes across a sniveling, scared girl. Elsa is tougher than steel. She had a no-nonsense upbringing by her father Ulysses. Thus, she has no time to cater to an abandoned child even if she is the zombies’ next meal. DDAAMMNN!! She’s ten times colder than the other Elsa ;-P Given the ‘brat’s’ prattling, she names her Shuttup. Elsa is almost a goner when she’s ambushed. She can’t hope for someone untrained with weapons to save her hide. Death is knocking at her door when fire-red energy blasts from her pendant (the Bloodgem). It’s the very first time. Looks like it’s more than a trinket or sentimental heirloom. Elsa eventually warms up to the girl and acquiesces when a change of direction is proposed. The brief pause in the fight can’t last that long.
Domain #41: The Shield
Domain #38: The Deadlands
Elsa! Elsa! Elsa! Not the one from a certain Disney record-breaking animated movie, but pretty damn close!
Daddy issues: No wonder Ms. Bloodstone has such a hardened heart! Ulysses, her father, was the number one monster hunter until his inevitable demise. He never let up!!
Simon Spurrier, being of British descent, really brings out the stiff upper lip mentality. Elsa can attribute her survival skills to her dearly departed dad but it has come at too high a cost: her humanity. This woman is so hardcore that she is unempathetic and void of compassion even to a child. This is modern Marvel tragedy right here. Kev Walker, another U.K. resident balances Elsa’s hidden beauty with the rank and foul landscape as well as the creepy crawling cannibals. [8.5/10]
MRS. DEADPOOL and the HOWLING COMMANDOS #1
“” (20 pages) by Gerry Duggan, Salva Espin, Val Staples, VC’s Joe Sabino
Deadpool isn’t really dead. PPFFTT. You believe that then look to the sky where pigs fly. The dude appears as an apparition in an armchair reading about his own demise. You can’t get more meta than that!! The flashback shows Shiklah (Mrs. Deadpool, n00bs!) backing off Dracula who has just decapitated her hubby. The Lord of the Vampires threatens to exterminate her bloodline if she offers resistance. Meanwhile, the Invisible Man experiences cruel and unusual punishment by Dracula’s enforcers: the Howling Commandos. Shiklah has the displeasure of meeting them when she wants to prepare her two brothers’ burials. She uses Medusa’s head to petrify them. Dracula is no dope. He will have Shiklah as her bride but trust is tenuous. She asks to take her siblings’ ashes across the Styx lest either her or her dear future husband endure eternal damnation. Dracula grants her the request but has the HC act as her escorts. Dracula pulls aside Werewolf by Night. He wants her to meet her maker and have it pinned on the humans.
Death, be not proud! Wade can’t go an issue without breaking the fourth wall and overstepping the confines of a comic book. “This sucks. I’ve died twice, in, like, two months.”
Domain #20d: Monster Metropolis. It’s about bloody time!
Monster mash: Frankenstein, Living Mummy, Man-Thing, Marcus the Manticore with a Symbiote, Werewolf by Night
Crack me up! Medusa sure came in handy. Shiklah tells Dracula what she did to his henchmen: “As you can see, I’ve made them quite hard.”
Implicit! Can’t the Swamp Walker ever be treated respectfully? The jokes and innuendo kill me! “Consult a wizard if your Man-Thing stays hard for more than four hours…”
Gerry Dugan continues to chronicle the comedic misadventures of the Merc with a Mouth albeit through his lover. The levity reminds me of those cheesy monster movies [multiple] made throughout the course of Hollywood history. You can’t take a creature seriously if s/he is making jokes or dropping innuendo. Salva Espin gets another shot at DP and his supporting cast. Shiklah makes for a sexier Indiana Jones. The hodgepodge of the Howlers are filled out accordingly. The new addition of Marcus adds to the intrigue. [7/10]
“Where Lost Things Go” (20 pages) by Jason Aaron, Mike del Mundo, Marco D’Alfonso, VC’s Cory Petit
Arkon the Magnificent can’t take the constant struggle for survival much longer. It is literally non-stop. The man barely has a moment to catch his breath. Such is his plight given that he is a prisoner of the unexpectedly terrifying and dangerous domain. The witnessing of the impossible things should’ve had him snap at this point. He still maintains his sanity but he is perilously close to losing it. Being cast away from his homeworld of Polemachus has him on edge but he is strategic enough to have designed a map of the mad mad world. Arkon manages to tame a dragon that was used as bait by Gun Ogres. He makes quick work of them and travels to uncharted territory. The dragon itself falls trap to a giant lure that pulls them both underwater. Apes in scuba gear are their captors. News of the barbarian and his residence reach the ears of Morgan Le Fay. She wants to maintain utter rule of Weirdworld. She orders Magma Men to investigate the man from another realm.
Domain #10: Weirdworld. WOOT! WOOT!
Even a warrior can cry: “But how does one eviscerate despair? How do you strangle hopelessness?”
Jason Aaron relishes in sword and sorcery!! He’s crafted a story so epic in its initial chapter that I’m foaming at the mouth for more! He presents Arkon as an extremely fierce warrior who is subjugated to the most base human emotions. Physical strength, stamina, and endurance cannot shelter the frailties of the mind. Mike del Mundo has created a canvas that needs to be displayed on murals and every possible medium. This man killed it with the psychedelic, frenetic, demented drawings. His collaborator Marco D’Alfonso has used paint brushes to the absolute fullest. The colours are deep, rich, and textured. [9.5/10]
CAPTAIN AMERICA and the MIGHTY AVENGERS #9
Al Ewing, Luke Ross, Rachelle Rosenberg, Travis Lanham
Four hours are left!! Time to put all affairs in order, embrace your loved ones, and accept the inevitable.
242 Minutes to Live: “Sorry, We’re Closed” [3 pages]
The marquee at the Gem Theatre takes out the ‘Avengers’. It’s official. The corporation has closed up shop. Dave Griffith feels for Luke Cage since this was his labour of love. Not all is lost. Whether it’s a legal issue or not, Jessica was never a fan of the brand. She comes up with something more positive: ‘Friend Force’. Danielle approves and the two men begin to warm up to it. Luke gets a call from Reed. The countdown has accelerated due to unforeseen invariables.
60 Minutes to Live: “This is It” [2 pages]
Underneath this double-page spread of various heroes prepping for battle, POTUS Obama makes his last address. This is not a test. This has been a broadcast of the Emergency Alert Service. BBBBBBBEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPP
57 Minutes to Live: “The Terms” [4 pages]
Monica Rambeau and Jen Walters have a very candid conversation. She-Hulk is uncomfortable with Spectrum’s murderous ways even if they were justified. Monica assures Jen that she herself won’t have to resort to lethal force. Spectrum powers up and breaks through to the other world (1610). The City detects her. The Maker captures her. Shoot!
53 Minutes to Live: “What We Do” [4 pages]
Dave is manning the hotlines. With less than an hour remaining, no call should go unanswered. Ruby makes a hasty retreat. He urges Soraya to leave. She hesitates since Dave has no one to see nor anyplace to wait out the worst. She decides to use when she witnesses his dedication and can-do attitude. Soraya comforts a caller who is completely and utterly alone.
49 Minutes to Live: “Mighty” [3 pages]
The individual members are shown doing their own things. Most of them are locked in combat. Power Man is the prodigal son. Kaluu has high tea with Wong. Blue Marvel neglects a call from a loved one to finalize some important tech. Luke and Jessica have what might be their very last kiss.
2 Minutes to Live: “You” [4 pages]
A doctor revives an unknown individual trapped under some rubble. S/He was the ultimate Samaritan in saving three children that were being evacuated from a school. This person is a Mighty Avenger just like the doctor. Facing the end in a positive manner makes all the more bearable. The light intensifies before everything fades to black.
Al Ewing delivers his own farewell in the letter pages. He voices the end of the ‘second season’. This goes in line with Marvel’s new initiative of treating all titles like episodic TV. I don’t know how I feel about that. Being a fan of pretty much every incarnation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, I feel disappointed with the overall run. It’s a real treat to cram in as many characters as possible. However, I find too much talking was done with little to no action, with the downplaying of the soap operatics. Luke Ross’ art remains visually pleasing. Tons of close-up shots of the main shot.
This really has finality (for now) and emphasizes the last moments. [5/10]
Tags: Secret Wars, Secret Wars Declassified, Weirdworld