Welcome to Secret Wars Declassified!
“Final Punishment, pt. 2” (20 pages) Nathan Edmondson, Mitch Gerads, VC’s Cory Petit
Frank strikes stealthily but not silently. To be expected from a one-man army who’s devoted his entire life to punishing those who deserve it! No matter how many times he has killed, he is extremely creative. He says it best to the leader of Black Dawn – he has come for punishment. Plain and simple! No hidden agenda from the U.S. No quest for vengeance. Going back a wee bit, one humorous scene is the elimination of the soldier on the can. Perhaps he was literally scared s***less. Point. Click. Shoot. Like the villains of old, Khalid runs at the mouth quite a bit. Frank doesn’t need to say much. The body count speaks volumes!! Frank takes several hits (he isn’t superhuman) but his indomitable will keeps him pushing forward. Bleeding profusely, he leaps out the second floor for some air and takes out at least ten men. He then slumps on his back waiting to meet his maker…
Sadly, this is the end of the titular character (again!) (for now). There’s no disputing he’ll be back for a tenth round (or season). It’s hard to determine the exact number of volumes and whether to count the MAX line separately or not. Either way, Mr. Edmonson accomplishes his run. Mitch Gerards’ non-stop delivery of the firefights is superior to any video game. The cover literally says it all. Simplicity at its most ingenious. Frank went out with several bangs and a whimper!! 21-gun salute! [9/10]
“” (20 pages) by Cullen Bunn, Paul Davidson, Paul Mounts, VC’s Cory Petit
Given the back-and-forth between the main plot and subplot, I will analyze separately. I’ll start with the past as Briar Raleigh’s motivations are fully laid out.
Maybe I missed something in the previous two issues, but I was completely oblivious to Briar having a prosthetic leg (just like Forge). She has an interaction with Magneto in the recent past. Erik is upset that she has been untruthful. She reveals her simple past growing up as a bored socialite. One fateful visit to Seattle introduced her to the magnetic mutant. After some pressing, she admits that she revels in his sadistic side. He’s somewhat taken aback by that but allows her to live since the end is coming. Briar meets with S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Rodriguez and delivers a USB with Mags’ latest plot. The agent informs her teammate that their S.O. has it in big time for the ‘evil one’ and is sanctioning a strike against Genosha. [The story intersects. Spoiler!] Lorna Dane has received an exclusive invitation to a swanky shindig of higher social circles. Briar is the hostess. She explains Magneto’s suicidal plan. Lorna is the only one who might get through to him.
Not much has changed since last issue. Magnus is holding strong and has ample time to be introspective. Lorna tries to get her father to give up the futile task. He scolds her for that suggestion. He tries to make her see that peace is an illusion. The Reavers launch power amplifiers to assist him. They are welcome. Surprisingly, S.H.I.E.L.D. creates some appreciated interference. The Nimrod Sentinels are being torn apart but they are numerous. Erik delivers a half-hearted apology as he siphons his daughter’s power. He feels that only he can carry through. She may not forgive his betrayal but he wants her to gain understanding. Let it rip!!
Wilson Fisk was a guest at Briar’s party :0
The clock is ticking even faster. This penultimate issue peels more layers. There is a lot of grey between Erik and Briar. Lorna is the poor patsy who pays the price of placing trust, faith, and love in her father. I like how Magneto’s power is characterized by the colour purple even in sporting a much darker outfit. [7.5/10]
LOKI: AGENT of ASGARD #16
“Would You Know More?” (20 pages) by Al Ewing, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Bleak times are definitely here. Freyja enters Valhalla to recruit all troops including the recently deceased Volstagg. The addition of Asgard-haters Lorelei and Sigurd definitely indicate that a new Ragnarök is on the verge of happening. Verity rightly freaks out but then calms herself when Loki explains that she acted out of friendship. Her memory problems could be the eight months spent in the void or a form of protecting herself from someone of equal power…King Loki! The young trickster finally enters the theatre of war. Illusion comes in real handy. So does being a master wordsmith. King Loki begins to crack due to Young Loki’s prodding. He flees as forces from the Nine Realms amass. The more innocent Loki refuses to take sides after his victory. He suggests they slay each other. Freyja and Hela stand ready to oblige. Loki replays everything in his orb. He and Verity’s essence stand in a plain white background. The truth finally comes out. Verity realizes her existence is over. She has an anxiety attack. She gets a reprieve from Those Who Sit Above in Shadow. They’re ready to come down hard on the trickster’s tampering.
Asgardians sporting shades. Now I’ve seen it all. LOL It’s awesome to see them incorporating Earth artifacts into their culture.
There’s so many citations I could use!! Al Ewing is secretly Loki. The mischief, the mayhem, the moxie. Clap clap clap. Loki has to keep his/her existence. Otherwise, who is there to tell tales as old as time?? [8.5/10]
OLD MAN LOGAN #3
“” (20 pages) by Brian Michael Bendis, Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo, VC’s Cory Petit
Wolverine vs. Goat Girl, round two! Apocalypse isn’t that powerful if even he cowers to the will of God Emperor Doom. Poc seems a bit too complacent. His curiosity of the anomaly that is Logan is clouding his judgment. He gets some backbone once Thor attacks his Horsemen. Poc sends the Infinites after her. Logan runs into a ‘new mutant’: Tabitha Smith!! He recognizes her and knows she will take on the codename Boom Boom. Their interaction is brief. Emma has a telepathic chat with Logan. He actually enjoys it before he slashes at the Thor. Attaboy! It’s unfortunate that she has Asgardian might behind her. Logan freefalls into Technopolis. Stark and Rhodey welcome this strange visitor. Logan identifies himself. Tony wants Logan’s blood since his body is immune to the infection running rampant. Logan tries to reason with each man and tries to make them remember. He unsheathes his claws and finds himself on the losing end of the fight once more. Upon his revival, he is surrounded by a zombified Dr. Octopus and several symbiotes.
Andrea Sorrentino is the superstar in this opus!! Sorry, Mr. Bendis. He is just killing it [natch!] and is upping his game with each subsequent issue. The X-panel for the first two pages is astonishing!! I wish I were better at critiquing art. Cory Petit gets his due for the sound FX. My curiosity is making me wonder whether the X-Men are figments of Logan’s imagination (doubtful) and is anticipating the eventual throwdown with En Sabah Nur. [8.5/10]
“Escape from Apelantis” (20 pages) by Jason Aaron, Mike del Mundo, Marco D’Alfonso, VC’s Cory Petit
Arkon can be knocked down but never truly defeated. His fighting spirit rivals that of any other pig-headed half-cocked bruiser. Speaking of pig head, Arkon uses his to bash through the wall as a means of escape. His cellmate mentions a better way. Arkon will be sold as a slave even if he proclaims his barbarian nature will let him prevail. The mysterious prisoner informs Arkon of his several successful escapes but cannot breach the surface due to the amount of apes. The inmate punches through the wall. He is Warbow from Crystallium :0 Blood flows through the water as the duo make it topside. Sadly, Arkon drops his map and wants to retrieve it. Warbow offers his and asks Arkon to help him break out his lord. Moltar, the villain from Crystallium, is conferring with Morgan le Fey. She is able to ride the untamed dragon. Warbow emerges from lava and offs more primates. Arkon follows. He is beside himself when he sees that Warbow’s master Crystar (gasp!) is nothing but a bag of
bones jewels. Magma Men close in. I’m pretty sure Akron is not immune to intense burning!
WOWIE WOW WOW! Jason Aaron has dug deep in the archives! He brings back a classic character (in name only) based on a toyline and introduces an entire new generation to this individual. I didn’t do that much investigating thus my mouth couldn’t stay closed when I saw Warbow, Moltar, and read confirmation of Crystar’s (unusual) appearance. Mike Del Mundo, each page is a modern masterpiece that should be featured in all the world’s museums! [8.5/10]
E is for EXTINCTION #2
“X vs. X” (20 pages) by Chris Burnham & Dennis Culver, Ramon Villalobos, Ian Herring, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Xorn, grateful towards his rescuers, uses his powers to break free all four of them. With his healing powers, he can fix Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Wolverine. Hank McCoy, examines his human self and is shocked to learn that he is entirely human, which means this time traveler came through before the mutation! Esme is sleeping with Magneto. EEEWWW! That is beyond gross :X The jig is up. Cyke and his crew burst through. The two X-teams duke it out. Betrayals emerge – Magneto kept the Phoenix Egg a secret from his students; Quentin teams up with Emma to take out the Stepford Cuckoos. Magneto impales Quentin but not before Mr. Quire bonded himself to the Egg. Xorn and Magento fight to a standstill. The misunderstanding between the two age groups is solved. Beast brings news of a deadly virus that killed his human self and is centred at the Atom Institute. Most likely, it’ll target the mutants and the Phoenix Egg is connected to it. Xorn makes a strategic retreat. Magneto is crushed by the egg. Quentin comes back to life. There’s no time to breathe as various versions of Beast are poised for some roughhousing.
Twice as good: “The Superior Homo Superior.” – Magneto to Quentin Quire
Three sides: “Not just grey. But black and white.” – Xorn in examining the Egg. Neat pun, BTW.
This issue is far better than the first. The reduction of pages advances the story and raises the conflict. The creep factor was an unpleasant surprise. Xorn is a human version of Baymax. *chuckle* The generation gap is being chipped away. It’s interesting that Dennis Culver receives co-writing credit as he was only acknowledged in the first issue. I’m still not sold on the art. I’m unsure if Mr. Villalobos is intentionally emulating Frank Quitely’s style to maintain the same æsthetic. [7.5/10]
FUTURE IMPERFECT #3
“” (20 pages) by Peter David, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Nolan Woodard, VC’s Joe Sabino
The Resistance is ready to storm the Maestro’s palace to retrieve their beloved General Ross. Skooter is especially distrustful of Ruby considering that she blundered by bringing the disguised Maestro into their stronghold. He also doesn’t want to follow Layla even if she is the most qualified to break in since she’s the mole. The Dogs of War, the Maestro’s foot soldiers, are aware of the plan but Layla wants to ensure their silence. Entry is relatively easy. After a misdirection, there is a standoff with armed guards. Ruby unleashes her fury. Layla calls her mecha-canine Jamie. Things are not what the rebels expected: Maestro is having a civil convo with Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. With a feast to boot!! Maestro wants out of Dystopia. More importantly, he wants to thwart Doom. He’ll do it by retrieving the Destroyer armour!! He wants the resistors’ help in obtaining it. They will have domain over Dystopia.
Red Sonja, is that you?? Check out the woman holding the fruit basket.
Maestro has mellowed. What’s up with that?? It could all be a ruse, of course. I like how the freedom fighters were the focus of this issue. Many times secondary characters are introduced but left to the wayside. It’s a welcome change of pace from the obligatory fisticuffs. As usual, Mr. Land devotes his craft to the female form. They are gorgeous, as always!! It’s cool that an actual quest is brought into play. Doom is going to be hit by various sides! [8/10]
MARVEL ZOMBIES #2
“Journey into Misery, episode 2” (20 pages) by Simon Spurrier, Kev Walker, Guru eFX, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Elsa Bloodstone and her newfound companion Shuttup plod through the Deadlands. Elsa discards M.O.D.O.C.’s body after she realizes he is useless even as scrap metal. Shuttup spots a silhouetted elder tribesman in the background. She believes he is following them. Elsa is beyond irritated with her protégée’s whimpering. The weak do not prevail in this environment. In a brief flashback, Elsa has a breakthrough with her father. She voices her hatred of him. He is pleased and emphasizes that the destruction of evil is the only worthy goal. Shuttup is snatched by Sauron as they journey forward. Elsa manages to save her, obviously. A winged ranger by the name of Worthington vaporizes the ptera-man. Elsa has him transport Shuttup to safety. Shut has misgivings but Elsa insists. Another flashback has Elsa witness her father’s decline in health. He attributes it to the Bloodstone and tells her that the world is full of deceit. Her eyes should be open at all times. Elsa spots the mystery man through her night goggles. Daddy’s words resonate with her when she comes across evidence of shape-shifters. Mystique has a horde of zombies around her with Shuttup at the foot of her cadaverous throne. She impersonated the high-flying Angel!! Elsa spots this from a distance and shows a hint of emotion. A high-pitched voice tells her that the zombies at Mystique’s thrall are highly intelligent. An upside down Deadpool (imitating Spidey?) shows up with his brains in full view!!
M.O.D.O.C. – Moribund Organism Designed Only for Cannibalism
The stiff upper lip is beginning to quiver. Si Spurrier makes Elsa pleasant through her apparent unpleasantness. I predict Shuttup to be the newest breakout character of 2015. It’s more challenging for Ms. Bloodstone to come across an adversary who isn’t driven with eating flesh. Plus, DP’s surprise appearance is just that. A surprise. Ulysses’ hardened stance transferred to his daughter. The undead look superbly disturbing. [7.5/10]
STAR-LORD & KITTY PRYDE #1
“” (20 pages) by Sam Humphries, Alti Firmansyah, Jessica Kholinne, VC’s Joe Sabino
Peter Quill remembers his life from before the Incursion! Shock upon shock!! The bigger question is how did he end up separating from the other Life Rafters?? To lay low, he’s taken on a gig as a lounge singer by the name of Swingin’ Steve Rogers. *guffaw* His buddy Drax wonders why “Steve” isn’t scoring with the ladies. Existential angst will kill the mood. Drax realizes he knows another Steve Rogers. Peter retorts with knowing a bald version of the Destroyer. Drax laughs it off since his bouffant is his main feature. Kitty Pryde walks in to examine an usual find by Gambit the Collector. They are strands of hair which are anomalous. Scans reveal that they are literally out of this world. Gambit is thrilled, especially because he doesn’t buy into Doom’s dogma. Kitty gives him knives carved from Longshot’s bones as the trade. Peter tells his band that they are going to perform “that song” when he spots Kitty in the crowd. His betrothed is alive and well!! Gambit tries to make a pass at Kitty but she is wise enough to pull out her claws [indeed!] Their former past need not be repeated. Peter’s interruption has Gambit paranoid of a set-up. He successfully escapes thanks to his kinetic charges. Kitty is none too pleased since the cagey one made off with the blades and the hair samples. Peter plants one on her and gets it in the kisser in return. His blood lands on the scanner. It rings. Kitty is delighted. She has a living, breathing, walking oddity in her midst. She cuffs him and takes her with him in hot pursuit of the charming thief.
Quit your day job: I wonder if Peter is tone-deaf and off-key. *snort*
New entry to the OED: welp = well + yup(?)
Band not on the run: Polaris, Strong Guy, and Wolfsbane accompany Peter on vocals.
Nice Kitty… I don’t know if Ms. Pryde has a different mutation or if those claws are accessorized weapons. Either way, shades of X-23 come to mind.
Sam Humphries keeps chronicling the roguish STAR-LORD, man. I haven’t read that title nor am I following GUARDIANS of the GALAXY but I’m well aware of recent developments. Who’d have thunk it? The pairing is a good fit. Pretty boy Peter is a lonely old soul until the love of his life reappears albeit not exactly the same. This will turn out to be Moonlighting meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The art is a bit exaggerated especially Gambit’s glee. The angle of the flaps on his trench coat around his smiley face make him look downright elfish. Drax is an Elvis Presley wannabe who is bouncer and number one fan. [7/10]
Tags: All-new All-different Marvel, Marvel, Punisher, Secret Wars Declassified, Star-lord