Sixteen books populate the stores this week! That’s a significant increase!! The Trickster God gets the last hurrah! Two one-shots deliver true romance as well as hard-boiled detective fiction. Mutants reign supreme in another number one. Two books reach second place with one of them concluding as a super-short mini. There’s an even-split between #3’s and #4’s: five apiece. Death is unkind: she places her icy fingers three times – one worthy, one deserving of his fate, and one innocent. More minds awaken to the reality of Battleworld: Doom is a fraud, Doom is no god, Doom must be overthrown!
LOKI: AGENT of ASGARD #17
“Out the Gate You Go and You Never Stop” (20 pages) Al Ewing, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Loki always has a trick up his sleeve or five. He stands unimpressed in front of Those Who Sit Above in Shadow. They demand his endless supply of stories to nourish themselves. Loki brushes aside the sands of time and details the importance and origin of storytelling. The phrase ‘Once Upon a Time’ carries significant weight. Loki sees through the false bravado. There is nary omnipotence among the deities above the other gods. They depend on fiction for their existence. With a refusal to back down, Verity and the trickster are enveloped by a wall of white. They notice the defeated King Loki. He’s really down in the dumps. The rejuvenated one discards his older self’s husk. There are both aspects of him. The crucial difference is that the black-hearted one went about his scheming all wrong and tricked himself. The ‘good’ Loki knows that his future self is a cautionary tale. He cannot deny his inevitable turn to something more wicked. Verity realizes there is no End. The future is intact. Loki pulls out a Sharpie and draws a door with “next” above it. On the other side, they’ll find the Silver Surfer as well as Battleworld. Loki is omniscient!!! It’s going to be another wild ride!!
WOW WOW WOW!! I volunteered to read and capsule review ALL the Secret Wars series but I never expected this one to be so metaphysical, so philosophical, so mind-warping! Mr. Al Ewing, you must have a doctorate in English Lit as well as those other subjects since the crux of comic books is producing enticing tales. My theory is that Loki wields the ability to reset reality and that he may be the wild card in defeating Doom. Even though he is uninterested in interfering, it’d be quite the coup! I could go on all day nitpicking this issue but I’ll save that for a later time. I cannot ignore this! The Deceiver may have his title cancelled but as the cliché goes: it’s definitely not the end. You can’t keep a captivating character down!! Stay tuned! [9/10]
SECRET WARS: SECRET LOVE
“Guilty Pleasure” (7 pages) Michel Fiffe, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Karen Page has a case of the Green-Eyed Monster. She can’t help but suspect that her beautiful boyfriend Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil is cheating on her with Typhoid Mary. Why entertain such a though? Because the man started talking in his sleep and muttering her previously unmentioned name!! The Incursion is about to make its impact but Karen sneaks away to watch the two duke it out. The truth comes to the fore: Mary is none other than Mephisto, the Lord of Lies!! He wanted to create a rift between the couple and see DD give into temptation. Karen comes to her man’s rescue and clobbers the demon, lobbing his head. Victorious, Matt passionately lip-locks his one true love. It’s the end of the world as they know it and they feel fine.
I’ve recently uncovered the fanfare regarding Michel Fiffe. He is the creator of Copra which has earned much critical acclaim. It’s easily understandable why Karen would be plagued with doubt but she is wise enough to weigh all the factors before flipping out. The best bit is Mephisto’s deception coming to light. Such a foul creature! [7.5/10]
“Fan of a Fan” (7 pages) Felipe Smith, Val Staples, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Two great tastes that (could) go great together: the unexpected pairing of Ghost Rider and Ms. Marvel!! Lisa has eyes for the dreamy Robbie Reyes while Bruno drools over the cute Kamala Khan. The two disparate individuals collide when Kamala is ordered to provide the champion racer with a celebratory drink and hot dog from the fast food joint where she is employed. The emergence of a Klamaggon has them both shed their secret identities. The two gaze into each other’s eyes; their prospective paramours are fretting. There is no kiss! Just a firm clasp of the hands!! *phew*
Domain #19: Doomstadt
Enthusiasm overload: “Crossover besties 4 lyfe, bro!” – Kamala to Robbie
Cookie-cutter illustrations is the main ingredient of this short-lived quasi-romantic story. Correction: pop art done right! Two thumbs up, Mr. Staples!! I know that no one character belongs to an individual writer or artist but I find it amusing to see someone else put words in Ms. Marvel’s mouth. [8/10]
“Misty and Danny Forever” (7 pages) Jeremy Whitley, Gurihiru, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Like most long-term relationships, Misty and Danny are in a rut. They have become too comfortable as a couple: accepting routine and growing apart. Misty confides in her BFF Colleen while Danny seeks counsel from Luke and Jessica. Domestic bliss can be deceiving!! The two are dutiful parents to daughter Lucy but that isn’t enough. Deep down they each miss their former heroic exploits. They get their wish fulfillment when a super-stale dinner date is interrupted by a T-Rex. The passion is reignited! No need for couples therapy ;-P
Jeremy Whitley’s primary focus is young adult or children’s comics. This is his initial Marvel work. Welcome aboard! The art is absolutely gorgeous. I love the 3D aspect!! Oh! Gurihiru are two Japanese female artists :0 They are veterans to Marvel but I was completely oblivious since the bulk of their work were a series of Power Pack team-ups for kiddies/all-ages. [8/10]
“Squirrel Girl Wins a Date with Thor” (3 pages) Marguerite Bennett, Kris Anka, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Buy this book now!! It’s going to quintuple in value because of this short story! It’s a pleasant surprise to see someone else handle SG besides her main writer. The title is self-explanatory. While on Asgard, she becomes overzealous. Putting out a fire by using Thor’s tunic reveals his to-die-for abdominals. Doreen is in lust!! The night ends with a chariot ride pulled by two of her squirrel pals acting as steeds.
New domain? “For Squirrelgaaaaaard!” – uttered by SG
I wasn’t exaggerating when I said this book will be a high-priced collectible. If not for MM, then for SG! What fangirl/boy wouldn’t swoon over Odinson’s abs?!? Doreen is a carbon-copy of Erica Henderson’s design! You get a special prize, Mr. Anka!! [9.5/10]
“Happy Ant-Iversary” (5 pages) Katie Cook
Welcome to Bug World where all the main characters are insectoid living in harmony with humans! What a radical concept!! The Wasp is an actual wasp. Ant-Man is an ant. This makes perfect sense!! Wasp traipses through the city gathering flowers for her beloved. She and Ant share cake among friends.
Blink and you’ll miss it: Earth 0.616 officially designated as Bug World.
Small gathering: Aveng-Bugs Assemble! Roly-Poly Hulk, Captain Ameri-Bug, Black Widow, Moth-Eye, Thor Hopper, Pizza Bug.
Katie Cook is best known for the ‘dreaded’ MLP books. She is a one-woman machine doing the lettering on top of artistic duties. My research shows she’s made some scant appearances in other Marvel titles that I own!! Time to give them a second look. This story is cute, wholesome, and just plain fun. Not every comic has to be grim nor gritty nor dark. The puns are top-notch!! [10/10]
HOWARD the HUMAN
“” (20 pages) Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood, Justin Stewart, Travis Lanham
Trapped in a Battleworld he never made surrounded by anthropomorphic beings, such is the existence of Howard the Human. This reads more like 48 Hours, minus 24 of them ;-P This is a tight done-in-one. Howard the Detective is on a puzzling case.
Now – (4 pages): Howard is drinking away his anger and resentment at Connors’ Pub. The reptilian bartender refuses to pour him another since his tab is sky-high. The Vulture comes from behind with a gun to his head demanding cold hard cash. One slight problem: Howard ain’t got none. He begins to entertain the crooks with a story.
7:34 a.m. – (2 pages): Howard bribes two Canine officers to look at the latest murder. Vulture doesn’t want a tale. He wants his moolah.
9:12 a.m. – (1 page): The victim was a Possum. Howie informs Felicia the Cat of her dead snitch.
11:19 a.m. – (2 pages): One of Felicia’s goons has Howard hanging over the balcony. She’s miffed that the possum bit the bullet. She wanted to pay off the rat not have him six feet under. Corpses bring questions and unwanted attention from the authorities. Felicia gives Howard twelve hours to get results. Otherwise, he’ll feel her wrath. Vulture smacks one of his goons. He’s actually enthralled by the unfolding of events.
3:48 p.m. – (2 pages): Howard turns to Mouse Murdock. The blind lawyer cannot assist him because of his affiliation with a certain cat lady. However, determining if the possum is playing dead, then help is gladly given. This leads to one conclusion: Wilson Fisk.
4:33 p.m. – (4 pages): How’s that for coincidence? The Kingpin wants to be atop the underworld. His army of ninjas stand ready to take out the two do-gooders. The blind advocate has mad fighting skills without giving away his costumed identity. Howard was pretty much useless.
9:16 p.m. – (2 pages): Rise and shine, handsome. Howie was sound asleep for the entire fight! Mouse gives him a piece of paper with vital info. Howie dodges the cops as they arrive on the scene.
11:19 p.m. – (3 pages): The trail leads Howard back to Connors’ Pub. His time is up. The deadline is upon him. Felicia arrives with her cronies. *chk* *chk* Face-off! Howie purposefully left his car outside so that the fuzz may find him. Three-way-standoff!! One of the roosters lays an egg in fear. Howard offers top dollar for the rarity. All the criminals have egg on their faces [natch!] Pete Possum is alive and kicking! Howie tricked the two crime bosses. The D.A. is offering him a handsome reward and protection. To seal the deal and give the situation more gravitas, he “threatens” to kill Pete where he stands. He’s takes PP and the egg as prizes.
Domain #23: New Quack City
Skottie Young writing a book but not drawing it?! *GASP* His pencils are somewhat Picasso-esque. Maybe Howard the Human can turn heads with that ugly mug of his but I sure ain’t one of them! The walking talking animals are truer to their nature than their human guises!! That’s double congrats to Mssrs. Young and Mahfood. The look of fear on the rooster’s face is priceless. [8.5/10]
HOUSE of M #1
For more details on this issue, click on this.
“Authorities” (20 pages) Gerry Duggan, Nik Virella, Lee Loughridge, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Flashback to ten years prior. Tony Stark is courting the Southern belle Pepper Potts. His Stark Repeating Rifle should put an end to the Civil War between the Union and the Confeds. Tony is confident of the Feds’ surrender since his weapon is not to be used. NOPE!! With that underhanded move, he is disheartened and finds comfort in alcohol.
Lawlessness outweighs lawfulness. Such is the reality of Timely in the year 1872. Natasha, Bucky’s widow, shows up at the jail enraged that the Sheriff has Red Wolf safely in captivity rather than hanged. She lost her husband to a scalping. Steve is determined to give the Native a fair trial. Showdown at high noon. Sheriff Steve Rogers stands ready to take down Bullseye and his mercs. Two against four: not bad odds. Elektra has the upper hand against Wolf until Otto Octavius starts shooting with his eight guns. Wolf manages to scurry. Rogers shoots Otto square in the head and takes down Lester. Bullseye is soundly defeated. Steve cries out for Fisk’s arrest. He is distracted by Grizzly approaching Red. Steve shoots the bear-like man in the temple. The problem with the good guys is that they never fight dirty. Bullseye gets his target right through the heart!! Tony comes out of his drunken stupor and fires a shot. He misses. The women of the town (suffragettes?) take him in. Kingpin gleefully grabs Steve’s lifeless body and throws him in the sty. The pigs devour him. Natasha gives Lester the slip by saying Red Wolf is long gone. She has decided to aid him even though she wonders aloud her intentions.
A stranger passes by Stark and drops a coin into the Vision of the Future. Stark tells the man that the machine is faulty. The mysterious individual clarifies that it is Tony who is broken. When the slip of paper comes out, Stark reads it and laughs hysterically. He heads to his shop and beings to furiously pound metal with his hammer. Ben Urich, dutiful narrator, decided it’s time to write nothing but the truth to permanently put an end to the degradation of his beloved town.
Domain #6: Valley of Doom
I mentioned this when looking at the first issue but Westerns don’t appeal to me. This is a most enjoyable exception J Outlaw justice has never been more enticing nor has the art been more accurate!! The villains need to be the lowest of the low. The heroes have to endure trials before triumph. Widow Natasha isn’t some helpless marm. She instinctively knows the right side and is going to kick major butt. The blood splatter is quite realistic. Being shot with large bullets would hurt like a real mother. The Vision as a dummy in a fortune-telling machine is a stroke of genius! [8.5/10]
CAPTAIN BRITAIN and the MIGHTY DEFENDERS #2 (of 2)
“…and Mine is a Faith in My Fellow Man” (20 pages) Al Ewing, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Wil Quintana, Travis Lanham
Big Boss Hill, the founder and baroness of Mondo City, emphasizes to the Council of Seven that Law is the utmost ideal in their domain. The hammer is a representation of that. The citizens of Yinsen are queued for transport to their new ‘home’. Among them are the Mighty Defenders! She-Hulk has a plan. She begins to break free of her bonds. Dr. Faiza Hussain easily escapes Boss Cage’s cell with her extra-special abilities. She summons Excalibur. The Defenders clamor surrender. Boss Frost begins a mind scan on Ava but the Tiger amulet prevents this and gives Emma the boot. The War Machine goes after Shulkie. Kid Rescue fries the force field of the teleportation cage. Faiza has a blunt conversation with Boss Hill. Mondo City wanted to invade all along. There can be no room for disorder. Faiza cleaves Hill’s hammer. The baroness is in shock. Cage comes charging in with his troops. Hill tells him to stand down. She begins to see the error of her ways. Cage is sent to begin negotiations with Kid Rescue. Toni accuses him of her father’s murder. He explains that it was rogue Boss Magniconte who has received a fitting punishment: banishment to the Deadlands. Faiza is speaking to Doom himself via hologram unbeknownst to the rest :0 He wanted to see how things would play out. He is above such pettiness. She vows to hunt him down. He expects no less but informs her that she will remain to protect Yinsen City. The Defenders bear her a gift: the Union Jack. Captain Britain accepts and proudly waves it!
Domain #?: Mondo City
Domain #?: Yinsen City
The concluding issue made headlines across the pond this past week. Why is that? Writer Al Ewing paraphrased Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech about radicalisation in the free world. The parallels are intentional in the annexing of Yinsen City. Dr. Faiza Hussain is no pushover! She needn’t don the colours of the British flag to prove her might. The flag at the end is a gentle push or intentional shove of patriotism. Each Defender gets a bit of screen time at least. Maria Hill eats wimps for breakfast! [8/10]
GUARDIANS of KNOWHERE #3
“” (20 pages) Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin, VC’s Cory Petit
Yotat drags Drax into the open. He calls upon the citizens of Knowhere to witness the execution of one of their Guardians. As he is about to drop the axe, lighting envelops him. Angela states clearly that the domain belongs to Doom. Drax rises and pounds his opponent. He instructs the Thor to strike again. He expresses his gratitude. Their past altercations will resume another day. The Nova Corps arrive to cart away Yotat. Drax sneers at their incompetence. They remind him that they lost Moondragon to the brute. Venom has a major issue with the Guardians’ freedom. He and Drax have a stare-down but it leads to nothing. Angela seeks a private audience with Gamora. She wants to understand the green-skinned’s persistent blasphemous beliefs. Gamora has her cosmic awareness as sufficient proof. Angela offers her one last chance to take back her words and the matter will be swept under the rug. Gamora refuses to budge. She tells Angela to gain free will and open her eyes. Their battle is interrupted by the arrival of an unnamed female warrior.
What you believe: “Denying reality is madness, almost by definition.” – Angela to Gamora
Mr. Bendis’ prolific profile is back in the fold! It’s gratifying to get such a quick fix. I drool over Mr. Deodato’s pencils time and again. What intrigued me the most was Angela and Gamora’s heart-to-heart: Angela expressed some higher level of admiration for the enigmatic assassin. Also, the hype of this issue is definitely the last-page appearance of a brand new face. Who is she? Tell me!! [8/10]
“The Coming of the Slayer” (20 pages) Jason Aaron, Mike Del Mundo, Marco D’Alfonso, VC’s Cory Petit
Arkon manages to come out unscathed from his battle with the Magma Men. He attributes it to dumb luck or divine intervention. Either way, he scolds Warbow for foolishly engaging in combat as well as carrying the remains of Crystar. Warbow assures them that the fragments are alive and that his prince as well as his friends can reassemble. He is good on his promise in giving Arkon a map of the bizarre domain. It’s completely different from his own. Warbow explains that WW’s landscape is constantly shifting. Thus, no biggie. Moltar and Morgan le Fay discuss the duo. She finds the barbarian to be bothersome. She will send Skull the Slayer after him. His secret origin is presented. He was a pilot named Jim Scully who happened to cross a dimensional rift into the chaotic realm. He now serves as Morgan’s personal hitman. Arkon realizes he’s been tailed the last few days. Happenstance brings them to a bar discussing their sorry fates. Skull reveals his mission. The two go at it. They break through some trees and descend from great heights. Skull vows to slay Arkon before they crash-land. Arkon awakens to find himself in the Forest of the Man-Things! Remain calm. Show no fear!!
Domain #10: Weirdworld
Mr. Aaron is definitely reliving the 70’s greatest hits. Adding Skull the Slayer is a no-brainer for this setting. The clash of the barbarians leads to an unplanned stalemate. I want to see Crystar reconstructed. There are only two issues left. Arkon cannot delay in escaping the maddening world that has imprisoned him. [8/10]
X-TINCTION AGENDA #3
“” (20 pages) Marc Guggenheim, Carmine di Giandomenico, Nolan Woodard, VC’s Cory Petit
Cameron Hodge emerges from the nightmare of his ‘death’ to find himself as a bodiless head facing his ‘saviour’ Aldus Kluge. The Genegineer may have a different form but he assures Cameron that he is the real deal. Hodge will be at the forefront of the mutant genocide. Rachel addresses her team of volunteers to storm Genosha. Ink and Longshot will tag along since they’re not mutants and are immune to the virus. Rictor visits his former friend and teammate Tabitha. She is very nonchalant about her situation. Wolverine vows to skewer him. Rogue and Triage are hard at work in eliminating the virus. They are coerced cooperators. The X-Men arrive. Fight time. Wolfsbane asks the two for their help. Rogue refuses but is possessed by Karma to lend a hand. Triage asks to talk to Rachel. She immediately links minds with him. He asks that she spare Genosha. Triage is having a one-sided conversation since Rachel is driven to retrieve her captive X-Men. Longshot defeats Rictor. Kluge begins fashioning a brand new body for Hodge with the highest upgrade: an Adamantium exoskeleton along with the transmode virus to make him virtually unstoppable. Bulletproof saves Wolfsbane from a nasty fall. He takes off to tussle with Ink. Rahne is horrified at her discovery: the enemy was among them the entire time! Simon comes back. Ink delivers a nuke straight to his chest. The explosion knocks Simon into the machine that transfers Warlock’s mecha-organics into him. The opposing sides join forces to make Kludge pay for his crimes. Bulletproof delivers swift justice. The Genegineer is slain. Wolverine has a newfound respect for his former rival. Cameron Hodge rises to the occasion. All together now!
Domain #?: X-Topia
I’ve noticed that all the X-related titles are quite lengthy in dialogue. I don’t know if this is naturally attributed to that little corner of the MU or if each writer is flexing his/her literary prowess. Either way, I feel that a lot more can be unsaid since the visuals provide exemplary detail. I’m certain that the X-factions will unify against the viable menace. Why all the in-fighting when mutants must disappear forever? [6/10]
“” (20 pages) Dennis Hopeless, Javier Garrón, Chris Sotomayor, VC’s Joe Sabino
It’s a dark day in NYC…Duh!! It’s been like that the last five years! Darkchild is parading through the streets with her pet Bamfy (formerly Nightcrawler). Longshot skulks, ready to take her out. He’s gonna have to wait. Sheriff Strange arrives to offer her the keys to the kingdom. She devilishly accepts! Longshot reports his findings to the newly ousted baron Scott Summers. Scott gives the X-Men an inspiring speech to stand and fight not run and hide. Upon uttering those words, Illyana materializes into the lair. Let the murderous mayhem carry out! Goblin Queen hears counsel from Sym but ignores it. Colossus is their best bet of overthrowing Illyana since he has her Soulsword. Tabitha reappears completely intact! Domino is overjoyed at this. She asks the strange bedfellows to follow her. Coincidence leads to the two women’s groups meeting. Madelyne saves Jean from being Kurt’s next meal. She uses her power to have him follow her. Cyclops uses his full quartz blast on Colossus for the pain and misery they have all endured. Mr. Sinister breaks it up between the two. He addresses Maddy who is none too pleased to see him standing. Tabitha’s ‘resurrection’ is revealed: she’s a clone made by him! There is no time for recriminations. He is the Mutant Messiah!
Domain #37: Limbo
Mr. Hopeless presents extremely strong women in this title. The men are relatively second-rate until the arrival of Mr. Sinister! Talk about coming out of left field!! Bamfy is extra creepy and vicious. Sinister is every bit the slithery snake he proclaims to be. [6.5/10]
“” (20 pages) Mike Costa, André Araújo, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Joe Caramagna
Peter Parker of Arachnia and Gwen Stacy of Earth-65 have the most awkward interaction at her other self’s gravesite. The convo is cut short by Venom’s emergence. The symbiote is stunned that Parker is kicking about. He was to follow Gwen but he won’t miss the opportunity in exacting his revenge. This world’s Peter is literally powerless. It’s up to Gwen to take down the big black ink blot. Anya feels out of place among all the brainiacs. Ham picks up on her isolation and informs her of a smorgasbord to get her out of her funk. While munching, Ham lets it slip that Norman goes to his special chair to let off steam and puts on a crown to stoke his ego. Anya demands to see the objects. Gwen learns that sonics can put down the savage beast. She uses an ingenious method: she hooks up a guitar to amps and strums away!! Not too shabby for a drummer! Pete tells her that Osborn is beyond bananas with extra insanity. Peter comes up with a plan. He texts an image of Norman to Paviitr’s phone. The Oscorp exec is dumbfounded. He dismisses Paviitr’s help in getting answers. Normie assembles the Sinister Six. Anya asks the others to follow her. Spidey UK determines that the “Caesar’s Palace” chair is in reality the Siege Perilous. The helmet dangles above. UK realizes that Norman has potential omnipotence with the ability to create a universe to his liking. Ham is chastised for not seeing the madman’s plans. Lightning crackles, signaling a Thor who orders them to cease and desist!
The sound of music: Hi-fi is enough to expel the symbiote especially when it’s an electric guitar wielded by a drum master!!
Domain #16: Arachnia
Peter and Gwen’s encounter may have been a bit gauche but their team-up felt natural. Fans of the original pair may get their wishes if Gwen were to take him back to her world. The use of Gwen’s natural talent to thwart Venom is a modern classic! Anya gets to do more than sit around and mope. Ham’s (non)-education of humans has to improve. One more issue before the end. What is to come? The heroes need to look more confident and spidery. [7/10]
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #4
“Daddy Has to Go Away for a While” (20 pages) Dan Slott; Adam Kubert; John Dell, Andrew Hennessey & Mark Morales; Justin Ponsor;
VC’s Joe Caramagna
Annie, get your gun web!! Not only has she inherited her father’s arachnid abilities but his strong sense of doing what’s right. Spidey dukes it out with Sandman. Their battle lasts little time due to Regent’s dropping by and snatching them. Annie and mom MJ have been snatched by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents for their own safety. The Spot provided the means of transport. Mockingbird and Prowler were the fake guards. Jarvis warms up to Annie and takes her to play with the Power Pack. Hawkeye is in command. He resents Spidey’s ‘abandonment’ of the Avengers in the fight against Regent. MJ is about to clock him when Ben Urich comes out in the open. He tells her that he has known Peter’s secret for years but always zipped his lips. MJ mentions Peter’s brilliance by using inhibitor chips to hide from Regent’s all-seeing eyes. Hawkeye demands an explanation. D-list hero D-Man is undergoing invasive surgery. Spidey feels major regret in his inaction. Regent uses TK to read Spider-Man’s thoughts and in the process discovers his secret ID. Preparations are made. Annie comes out with a costume created by her new friends. MJ is fuming. She doesn’t want her daughter to have heroic aspirations. The Sinister Six have found the Avengers! Annie takes down half of them without breaking a sweat. Regent stupidly ignores Sandman, finding him useless. Flint Marko had one of Spot’s portals within him. He uses his remaining strength to open it. Everyone goes through. Annie and MJ are ready to save the most important man in their lives.
Domain #8: The Regency
Child’s play: Annie has gumption! She bites Boomerang’s arm, dodges Rhino’s punch, scratches Shocker’s eyes, and kicks Kraven in the crotch!! Hey, that was unintentional alliteration!
Finally, Annie comes to prominence!! Mr. Slott, you get the ball rolling and wisely so. No time to sit down and listen to her motivations. Take action. BAM! Mr. Kubert’s pencils are a vast improvement. His take of Hawkeye à la Nick Fury is similar to Mike Dedoato’s illustrations. I can’t accept Regent’s appearance. He is too bulky and those circuits on the side of his outfit are pointless. [8/10]
ARMOR WARS #4
“If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” (20 pages) James Robinson, Marcio Takara, Esther Sanz, VC’s Travis Lanham
Jim Rhodes foresees his death. He sends a vid message to his niece Lila. Marshall Rhodes is relishing every moment in the Kingpin’s downfall. Fisk mocks him for his goody two-shoes nature. Rhodey doesn’t play nice anymore. He accuses Fisk of killing Spyder-Man. Since the Marshall is also a Thor, he electrocutes his hated enemy. Arno and Tony have mended fences. Tony asks Arno to lay off Kiri Tech and to hear the terms of his truce. Kingpin does not apologize an ounce for his life of crime but he claims innocence about Peter Urich’s murder. Those are empty words since he utters his last breath. Rhodes tells Happy that the equation is incomplete. He goes to Amadeus Cho for further analysis of the unknown variables. Amadeus was successful in repairing the Spyder’s hard drive. The vid shows the killer. It’s none other than…Tony Stark :0 Iron Man kills Cho. Rhodey isn’t surprised in the least. Stark was a suspect despite the high improbability. Technopolis is all about the Starks. They will do whatever it takes to keep it afloat. He wants to arrest the former friend but Tony has control of Rhodey’s armour. All is revealed: (1) he has a temporary alliance with his brother, (2) whether his father Howard created the infection remains unanswered, (3) he murdered Kiri Oshiro’s parents before moving to Ben Urich as well as Peter. He blasts the good cop clean through. The story comes full circle. Rhodey was able to transmit the vid of events to Lila and Kiri before expiring. Lila is distraught. Kiri has steely resolve. Her Moving Fortress is a giant mecha ready to give the baron a solid butt-kicking!
Domain #5: Technopolis
Shock followed shock (for me at least) to discover that Tony Stark isn’t so squeaky clean. He was playing at being a passive observer! Shame on me! One more issue means this has to advance to the next level: Iron Man vs. an enormous mobile building. Will the infection be eradicated? Who created it? The girls have to live up to their legacies!! [7/10]
SECRET WARS JOURNAL #4 (of 5)
“Primary Function” (10 pages) Mike Benson, Laura Braga, Wil Quintana, VC’s Cory Petit
Punisher of Egyptia has to train rookie Iron Fist from the Domain of Apocalypse in guarding The Shield. The war veteran has no patience nor willingness to take up the task. An Ultron bug has Frank Castle wary. The easy takedown of it doesn’t assuage his fears. Their investigation leads them to Subterranea, the kingdom of the Mole Man, a former resident of Technopolis. The portly man went underground to build his own Ultrons in an endeavour to bring about paradise. Frank points out the error of his ways. No sooner is that said than the various automatons come to life and carry out their directive. Luckily, the two incapacitate all the flawed robots. As the Punisher reminds the Iron Fist of his life-long mission, Danny spots an Ultron emerging from the barren land.
Domain #41: The Shield
Why haven’t Frank and Danny worked together before?! I actually like this combo J It’s not as unusual as it looks. The fact that they face the Mole Man makes it a triple treat. Gorgeous pencils by Laura Braga. The two guardians fight effortlessly and move freely. [8/10]
“Another Last Stand” (10 pages) Sina Grace, Ken Lashley, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Cory Petit
Kyle Jinadu enlists Psylocke’s help in freeing his husband Jean-Paul Beaubier (Northstar) from a mutant prison camp. Betsy Braddock has gone into hiding and is extremely resistant about giving up her self-created utopia. His impassioned plea stirs a sense of duty in her. Kyle storms through the gate. Psylocke arrives as timely back-up. Northstar and Kyle are reunited. The swift mutant smashes through a Sentinel to save his rescuer. Psylocke instructs the couple to skedaddle. She stays behind and sacrifices herself for the cause.
Domain #30: Sentinel Territories
This one tugged at my heartstrings L God Doomit, Sina Grace!! Why did you have to write such a gripping tale? Welcome to the MU, BTW. Kyle’s non-powered status doesn’t make him any less of a hero. His fervent determination and undying love for Jean-Paul are qualities to which we should all aspire. He managed to get Psylocke out of her fantasy-world funk and to remind her what it is like to oppose the suppressors. [9/10]
AGE of ULTRON vs. MARVEL ZOMBIES #3
“Send Help” (20 pages) James Robinson, Steve Pugh, Jim Charalampidis, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Double trouble is brewing as Ultron and Magneto solidify their alliance. Ultron wants Sabretooth as a guinea pig for some innovative procedure.
Hank Pym is completely overwhelmed. He is an anachronism who doesn’t have the wherewithal of devising a means to incapacitate the malevolent A.I. Love is in the air and it is threefold: Wonder Man and Iron Cross are happy as larks, Vision and Agatha Harkness have a mutual understanding and deep affection for the other, Human Torch and Radiance are going to be proud parents.
What about Hank? Doesn’t he deserve some happiness? Janet Van Dyne’s bio is revealed in detail. She was nothing but a call girl until she was smitten by the well-groomed somewhat shy guy. He mentions that he’s an inventor. The courtship leads to full-on romance! Jan is an impulsive woman! Hank’s Clockwork Man creates a rift between them. Out of spite and scorn, Jan allies herself with questionable characters: Madame Masque and Ringmaster to name a few. They taught her how to be a gunslinger. Her wicked ways caught up with her and she was arrested by the Thors. Her anger has since cooled, she just wants to be reunited with her brown-eyed man.
Sabretooth becomes a hybrid of tech and rotten flesh. In fact, all the Zombies are now imbued with Adamantium. Salvation is besieged!! Hank has a solution: surrender!
Domain #39: Perfection
Domain #?: Salvation
There may be no Wasp in this reality but I was mildly taken aback with the focus on her backstory. It’s obvious that she would be involved with Hank aside from getting a bounty for his capture. Her other life is so unlike her ‘real world’ counterpart! The composite robo-zombies are frightful!! [8.5/10]
“Doomed Youth, pt. 3” (20 pages) by Noelle Stevenson, Sanford Greene, John Rauch, VC’s Clayton Cowles
The Runaways stay true to their name as they find themselves on the lam. First stop: the Valley of Doom. Jubilee, Molly, and Skaar try to inconspicuously get supplies but the disguises are paper-thin. Delphyne is impressed by Amadeus’ determination and compassion in repairing and reanimating the Doombot supervisor. Jubes has a minor freak-out when she thinks Molly is bleeding. She is the most realistic of the bunch. They will be snuffed if they stay still. Sanna is recruited into the Doom Elite. Amadeus succeeds in reactivating the Doombot supervisor and having him on the friendly side. Cho is so ecstatic he proposes a visit to his parents’ home as sanctuary. The bot informs them of the real nature of their four-year training as well as the Final Exam. A pit stop in Weirdworld is extremely brief. Way too much bizarreness for them to handle. Tandy’s timely arrival has her ‘port them to the Warzone where coincidentally Cho’s parents reside. There is devastation. His parents are long gone. He surmises that he was deceived by Doom for an indeterminate amount of time. Molly is angered. She proposes knocking down the God Emperor once and for all. Bucky and his troops come on to the scene. The skirmish leads to another death – that of Delphyne!! Three losses in one day is too much for Amadeus to bear L
Domain #6: Valley of Doom
Domain #10: Weirdworld
Domain #22: The Warzone
Kids grow up fast. Some cases are more extreme than others!! Death does not escape this troubled youth. Sanford Greene’s pencils are easily distinguishable. The emotional range between all the main characters is realistic and relatable. [8/10]
Tags: Howard the Human, Loki, Secret Love, Secret Wars, Secret Wars Declassified