Secret Wars Declassified Week 16: Ant-Man Shrinks Away, Spider-Woman In Her Old Costume & Magneto Never Made It!

Baker’s dozen once more!


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For my in-depth look at this issue, click on this.



“” (20 pages) Dennis Hopeless, Natacha Bustos, Vero Gandini, Travis Lanham

Get the hell out of Dodge! Literally!! That’s priority number one for the trip-happy trio of Ben Urich, Porcupine, and Jessica Drew. Guess who’s there to save the day: the unlikely Porky-pine!! The F-list villain does a decent job of fending off the goons and snatching Ben out of harm’s way. Jess is kicking up a storm (and punching). She’s determined to get the ringleader and smash in his face. The town has become a myriad of mindless minions due to a serum that Hulkifies cows. Roger (Porky) keeps his head on his shoulders and gets medical attention for Ben. He uses Jess’ detective skills to find the mastermind. He K.O.’s the big bad, takes control of the situation. Nothing to it!!

There’s a framing sequence where Black Widow comes to retrieve Spider-Woman. The world is coming to an end and all Avengers are needed. Natasha tells Jess there’s no debating or pondering. She bluntly tells her that Jess’ hiatus is over. This may cause devoted readers some concern: Widow hands her the classic costume. The sequence is presented in reverse order: the two are aboard a Hellicarrier. Sharp-eyed readers will know that their craft didn’t make it through. Continuity skewing aside, Jess is yet to be seen on Battleworld. [8/10]

Highlight: Jess’ old costume with a ‘sympathy’ note – “Sorry to interrupt your retirement…but we need you. BW.

Unlikely hero: Porcupine came through!! Interestingly enough, he’ll resort to crime when ASTONISHING ANT-MAN rolls around.



“” (20 pages) Cullen Bunn, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire, VC’s Cory Petit

Crunch time for the Master of Magnetism. He puts all his might into repelling the Ultimate Universe. That’s a first: the opposite of attraction. The task is his alone. Polaris and Briar Raleigh stand helplessly observing. Magnus comes to terms with the rottenness within. He genuinely attempted the side of angels but always reverted to extreme measures and cold-hearted moves. Even with the added boost, the giant fails miserably. He expands one last bit before he vanishes with only the helmet remaining. Polaris looks upwards as white envelops her.

The flashback sequences are a highlight (lowlight?) of Magneto’s evil deeds: his very first appearance in X-MEN #1; the sinking of the Leningrad sub from; the establishment of Asteroid M later recreated as Avalon; his sovereignty of Genosha endorsed by the U.N.; ripping out Wolverine’s Adamantium skeleton from “Fatal Attractions”; scuffles with the Avengers among other things. [6.5/10]


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“Journey into Misery, episode 3” (20 pages) Simon Spurrier, Kev Walker, Jason Gorder, Guru eFX, VC’s Clayton Cowles

Deadpool is in a pickle: he is left hanging to the Zombies’ devices as they pick away at his brain day after day only for it to regenerate (exactly like Prometheus’ punishment). His wacky noggin gives the undead a level up in intelligence. Elsa dare not free him lest the bells ring. DP does it anyway after he assures her that Shuttup is still 100% human. In a blazing fury, Elsa’s super-power emerges!! She grabs her protégée, and runs like the wind. After some distance, she arms Shuttup with a gun. Mystique and her band will not let waste a tasty morsel. The shadowy figure who has been on their trail rescues them. Elsa tries to force Shuttup to achieve adulthood quickly by arming her but realizes the sanctity of childhood. Elsa had a really messed-up early life thanks to her hard-nosed father. His longevity eventually ended but much to his disappointment since she didn’t oblige his wish of ending him. Elsa felt relief after he passed. The last decade has been in service of The Shield. She rips off the emblem of the same name. three startling revelations: Elsa’s power came from the Bloodstone; Shuttup has a power of her own – she is rotter-proof; the mysterious hunter that spared them is none other than Elsa’s dad who has come back to (un)life!!! [7.5/10]

Power surge: Elsa’s full potential comes through thanks to the ruby on her person.

Does anyone stay dead anymore? Immortality is iffy. Ulysses got a little better after death.


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“Who Is Hank Johnson?” (20 pages) David Mandel, Michael Walsh, Matthew Wilson, VC’s Clayton Cowles

A day in the life of a grunt. Make that multiple days. Hank Johnson is just your run-of-the-mill Hydra agent. No biggie. He has no qualms about serving the most subversive organization in the Marvel Universe. Making ends meet for a family of three is no small feat. Hell, that’s tougher than being a member of the sprawled syndicate!! Hank has to cope with his buddy’s untimely demise, the expulsion of his brood from school, sexual advances from Madame Hydra, and nabbing tickets for the Nets in the hopes of forgoing a charity event. Hilarity ensues in all avenues of this man’s less-than-charmed daily existence. The flashback to Nick Fury infiltrating the base is a reinterpretation of a scene from an early issue of STRANGE TALES. [9.5/10]

Make more mirth! Comedy is sorely missing in the serious world of comics. Deadpool is not the only one who can crack a joke or ten.


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E is for EXTINCTION #3

“Beast Wars” (20 pages) Chris Burnham & Dennis Culver, Ramon Villalobos, Ian Herring, VC’s Clayton Cowles

The weird factor has been amped tenfold. Make that unlimited given the number of alternate Beasts breaching through. The two X-factions join forces against their common foes. One casualty: Angel Martinez. She tells Beak to take care of their hatchlings. Emma links to the Stepford Cuckoos to become the Six-In-One. *snort* (Sorry) The end result has Emma resembling Spiral. Nothing escapes the combined psychic probe of the six. The true evil-doer is revealed: Sublime!! He was a virus given sentience by Magneto’s amplified powers via MGH lying in wait within the Phoenix Egg. He adapted the guise of the white cat-like Beast. Second casualty: Esme is gutted by their own Hank McCoy who has overlooked in terms of possession. Major head-turner: Charles Xavier is reborn as No-Boy!!! Suicide didn’t stick. He puts the kibosh on Sublime without a second thought. Third casualty goes to the bad guy. As usual, no room to breathe – Cassandra Nova, Charles’ evil twin ridiculously unbeknownst to all, emerges from the Phoenix Egg. [6/10]

The outrageousness escalates but even in this other reality, it doesn’t fly. Cassandra Nova is already in X-MEN ’92, severely misplaced there since this is an obvious homage to Grant Morrison’s run and who happens to be her creator.


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X-MEN ‘92 #3

Chris Sims & Chad Bowers, Scott Koblish, Matt Milla, VC’s Travis Lanham

“Head Games” (14 pages)

Look at the trade dress and you’ll see that X-Force feature prominently in this chapter. Psych!!! They make for cool guest-stars but they can’t completely steal the show! Psylocke establishes a mind-link with Prof. X and trespasses on Cassandra’s domain. Ms. Baldie is ambushed by Jean and Cyclops but she doesn’t go down easily. This power struggling is dragging, IMO. Cable and his troops reach Clear Mountain. Psylocke provides the save. Jean was in danger of becoming the Phoenix yet again but that is not the case. Nova re-emerges and gets back to her body. Thankfully Jean and Scott are ‘rejects’ for her program and Betsy got off easy. Cassandra needs to deal with the pesky mutant militia. [5/10]

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“Ten out of Ten” (16 pages)

 X-Force storm through. Beast, Chamber, and Jubilee examine the Sentinel remnants and try to determine what Nova wants to do with it. Charles snaps out of his induced coma and thanks Psylcoke. They rush to warn Senator Kelly that he is going to be assassinated. The government official refuses to listen and has the duo arrested. X-Men and X-Force reconvene and reminisce. Once again, Nova poops on the party. She introduces her converted: Gambit, Rogue, Wolverine. They are given a new lustre of white and gold, passive as they please. Storm unleashes her full potential: she realizes her powers are linked to her mind not just her body. Ororo is the liberator. Ever the plotter, Nova offers the Rej-X a spot in the Thor Corps. The ultimate coup is the unveiling of the Ten-Sentinel that targets the Senator. Psylocke and Prof. X are done for, as is he! [4/10]

What a kwinkydink!! I just mentioned Cass in the other X-title. She’s gotta go. Sadly, it’ll be too late since next issue is the conclusion. What a drag. It finally dawned on me why these books were over-sized: they are digital firsts.


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“” (20 pages) Kelly Sue DeConnick & Kelly Thompson, David Lopez, VC’s Joe Caramagna

Helen comes out alive!! The explosion just knocked her out. The Banshees take off to rendezvous with Carol and their teammate. Rhodey is instructed to take some gear and stay put. All the ladies return, get in their planes and go AWOL. Baroness Cochrane is aware of the defection but the squadron cannot be pinpointed. Doom will hear of this. Captain Marvel speaks to Rhodey after her recon. She snags him as his passenger and away they go! Black-Eyed Suzie, a friendly rival, engages the flyers with her own entourage. Carol and her corps outmaneuver the opponents. No harm, no foul. On a deserted island, Helen apologizes to Cap for her recklessness. She wanted to take the brunt of the punishment and spare the others of the same fate. A memorial is held for Rhodey’s fallen crewmates. Cap asks if they can safely stay in his domain but that isn’t feasible. Sounds in the distance have an octet of Thors heading in the heroes’ direction. [7/10]

It’s about time for the supporting cast to finally spread their wings [natch!] a bit more. There’s only one more issue. Carol has to learn the truth about her situation. She survived the Life Raft, after all.


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“” (20 pages) Charles Soule, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, Joe Sabino

Spider-Man, Venom, and Black Panther have no time to mourn Elektra. Aside from dodging the Iron Sentinels, they need to infiltrate Stark’s base. Jennifer Walters passes Prof. X’s mind probe with flying colours. The rumours of his death were completely false. Her human appearance is foreign to even her but it’s a surefire way to go about undetected. Not!! Some patron in a bar recognizes her. Bucky gives President Stark a pep talk. The leader of the Iron has never faltered. Stark Base has a monstrosity within: an intelligence that controls the drones and all other automatons: King Ock, a grotesque mash-up of Kingpin and Dr. Octopus!! Someone informs Bullseye of She-Hulk’s imminent arrival. It’s none other than Speedball now Officer Baldwin of the Punishers. She flings him about and he is ordered to stand down. Venom permanently puts King Ock offline. Shulkie is electrified by an unseen enemy. When she awakens, she is facing another supposedly casualty of the war: T’Challa, the martyr!! [6/10]

Too many moving pieces but not enough cohesion between them. Peter makes a meta-fictional comment as his witty banter left him long ago. I interpret this as major events not always being captivating nor entertaining. T’Challa’s survival was totally left field.


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“” (20 pages) Brian Michael Bendis, Andrea Sorrentino Marcelo Maiolo, VC’s Cory Petit

Logan slashes his way through the Deadlands. There’s no contest that he’s the best there is at what he does and what he does isn’t very nice. Neither are those flesh-eaters. He retreats into a cave and comes across Jen Walters, the She-Hulk. Their union is short-lived since the zombies have detected them. Wolvie is bitten by the undead version of his bitter enemy Sabretooth. She-Hulk sees him as a valuable asset and sacrifices herself for his continued existence. She gives him a major boost by executing the ultimate Fastball Special. Logan makes it past the ‘barrier’ and lands in New York City!! [9/10]

The panel work along has Andrea Sorrentino at his acme!! The artistic arsenal is to be commended for his pencils, inks, background, composition, the whole shebang!!!


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“See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes” (20 pages) Garth Ennis, Russell Braun, Dono Almara, Rob Steen

Kiss your manhood goodbye, Karl Kaufmann!! Watch your wee-wee go the way of the dinosaur! Clemmie comes clean about her lineage: she’s related to a Franklin that fought with Karl sixteen years prior. Big surprise that Karl found the bloke disagreeable. Clemmie convinces the Amazons to spare the misogynist. He finds himself in a humorous jungle action cliché: can you smell what the pygmies are cooking?? His goose isn’t cooked due to velociraptors satisfying their cravings. An unlikely alliance is formed when Karl brings out his piece to incapacitate the predators. Down with the Femizons!! That plan fails miserably. Those women aren’t just pretty faces. They draw out sharks while the diminutive cannibals paddle to the island. They were fodder for Karl’s scheme: he grabs the propeller to his plane and gasoline. He will settle the score with Clemmie once and for all! [8.5/10]

I mentioned this two issues ago – this is one of the more pleasurable reads out of the entire batch. It’s not mainstream enough or name-worthy but it’s been solid in terms of story and art. Clemmie is a major tease. She still hasn’t peeled back all the layers which greatly irks Karl as well as me 😉 The title of this story makes me think of a play-on-word on a particular type of prop worn by men for certain pleasurable activities >_^



M.O.D.O.K. ASSASSIN #4 (of 5)

“” (20 pages) Christopher Yost, Amilcar Pinna, Terry Pallot, Rachelle Rosenberg, VC’s Travis Lanham

A quick flashback has Doom setting foot on Killville. He gives dominion of the domain to Baron Mordo. Clea sees the gesture as spiteful. Mordo is none too pleased spotting his rival Strange. The Mindless Ones don’t discriminate! Modie is too quick on the draw: he takes out the one individual who could send them to the voide – the Shroud. Strange determines Angela’s location since there’s a spike in the grid surrounding Killville. Taskmaster enters the fray to serve as an annoying destruction. Modie deduces that Mordo set up Angela. He is the cause of her woes. Sheer determines allows her to retrieve her hammer but she is rendered unconscious. Modie tries to lift the hammer but cannot since he is unworthy. Mordo and Clean move in on the ‘pest’ with a myriad of Mindless Ones in tow.  [8/10]

I already admitted that I thought lower than low at first glance for this mini. Much to my delight, each subsequent issue has improved. The Angela-M.O.D.O.K. dynamic/budding romance is beyond expectations. Will this Heavenly Creature fall in love with the Abomination of Killville?


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“” (20 pages) Cullen Bunn, Matteo Lolli & Matteo Buffagni, Ruth Redmond, VC’s Joe Sabino

Wasp finds herself bemused waking up in Wade’s arms. That makes two of us :0 The morning after seems pleasant but later in the day Janet is thrown off by DP’s true horrific appearance. She apologizes for the impolite utterance. Wade is bummed because Zsaji drained her life force for the others. Doom struts his stuff with his Beyonder borrowed powers. We all know the outcome of that one. However, given Wade’s unique reality the Beyonder makes his appearance known as a pygmy primate. He tempts DP with his heart’s desires but the WW doesn’t buy it. Everything is square as the heroes return to NYC. No one remembers DP’s involvement since he theorizes that Wasp wished to forget him. Wade ask anything of the genie? You bet your booty!! Zsaji has been resurrected and living a simple happy life. [8/10]

That’s a wrap, folks!! It’s purposely convenient that no one recall DP’s involvement and that the one who wished to forget him has forgotten herself. Or has she? I have theorized before [in my head, just like Wade] that Deadpool has the ability to alter reality? He should be the wild card in the SECRET WARS mini. He’s the one that should usurp Doom and take out Thanos. Hey! The stars truly align sometimes as DEADPOOL vs. THANOS is now out. Proof behind my point? DP tells the Beyonder: “This really is a comic book, isn’t it?” Put that in your pipe and smoke it!!

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