An upstart one-shot inserted among the closing books? Bold!! The relatively small number of four releases this week.
SECRET WARS: AGENTS of ATLAS
“” (30 pages) Tom Taylor, Steve Pugh, Tamra Bonvillain, VC’s Joe Sabino
Call it a comeback!! After a four-and-a-half year hiatus, the Agents of Atlas are present in the pages!! They were peaking for a while and then quietly retreated. Well, if you’re an admirer like me, here’s your one shot! Get it? 😉
The Third Reich lives on thanks to the cruel dominion of Baron Heinrich Zemo. There is hope since a secretive subversive organization is undermining his totalitarian regime: the Atlas Foundation!! One of their members comes out of hiding summoned by Director Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gorilla-Man and Coulson get all dodgy and try to one up each other with subterfuge. Bottom line: Jimmy Woo is missing and needs to be found ASAP. Gorilla-Man comes clean with being an Agent of Atlas and narrates their last mission that was completely botched. The culprit was their teammate Venus. Jimmy and Gorilla-Man were ensorcelled by her siren cry. They couldn’t escape hearing it. This led to Zemo having intel on their activities and Jimmy being snatched. Venus agreed to temporarily part ways. Gorilla-Man has a trump card over Coulson: he wanted to ensure S.H.I.E.L.D. was not involved in Jimmy’s disappearance. After that smug revelation, the other members materialize. Coulson wonders if they were invisible. Namora explains that Marvel Boy’s telepathy cloaked them making Phil completely unaware of their presence.
Phil decides to join the group. At Zemo’s compound, Coulson, Namora, G-Man, and M-11 land and split up. G-Man finds his man. Jimmy wants to warn him of the impending danger. A boy that was trapped within an Iron Maiden turns out to be Heinrich’s homicidal heir Helmut!! The boy overpowers the primate and goes right for the jugular. He is unaware of the curse: Ken Hale becomes human again and Helmut turns into the super-sized simian. Jimmy explains that Zemo’s plan is to court and wed Venus. He wants a baroness by his side. M-11 shows outrage and utters his first monosyllabic sentence in response to Ken’s demise. He carries the lifeless body. Heinrich comes out of hiding and shoots Coulson. Plan V comes into fruition: Venus reappears and enraptures the belligerent Baron. Her voice is so alluring that she leads him off the ledge of the turret. Zo long, Zemo!! Surprisingly, Jimmy suggests Helmut be a better ruler than his father. The boy gets off scot-free. Bogus!! The lesser of two evils. Jimmy ends the interaction with confirmation that Atlas will keep up the good fight. Also, they do not want to be angered and are extremely adept at hiding.
Domain #??: Metropolitia
Dare to compare? “Because we’re very good at hiding.” “You are. But you’re not that good.” –Gorilla-Man to Coulson “We have a flying saucer. And we’re very good at hiding.” “You are. But you’re not that good.” – Coulson is schooled after this second statement!!
Sleep with one eye open: “We’re very good at hiding, you pathetic little monkey baron. You’ll never know when we’re watching you. Don’t piss us off.” – Jimmy to Helmut
I decided to check out AoA once their on-going series hit the shelves. That prompted me to read the mini-series as well as the AoA vs. Avengers and AoA vs. X-Men minis. I never thought I could enjoy let alone root for a ‘forgotten’ team from the 50’s. Tom Taylor captures the essence of the team from mainstay Jeff Parker. Jimmy and Ken are the main focus but the others are integral to the team even if their roles are minimized. The mutual support and vigilance among the members is more emphatic and endearing than other teams. Five uniquely powered individuals fiercely follow an ordinary human due to his excellent leadership. The team looks like it hasn’t aged a day with the exception to make Jimmy resemble Nick Fury. In fact, when I first saw the preview cover for this issue, that was my exact thought. Jimmy’s Asian appearance seems downplayed. Heinrich has Balkan bulkiness. Helmut is a terrifying homicidal bösekind!! G-Man was a noble savage til the very end. [8.5/10]
AGE of APOCALYPSE #5
“The Cure” (20 pages) Fabian Nicieza, Iban Coello, David Curiel, VC’s Clayton Cowles
The First Mutant has been slain!! No time to rejoice since another loonie stands at the ready to exterminate everyone in the former baron’s domain. Dr. Nemesis has over three hundred mutants’ powers stored within him. Cyclops, Havok, and Burner’s combined efforts are futile. Nemesis teleports to the Flatscan Ghetto. He tosses aside Essex, blasts through Dark Beast, and is about to snap Sabretooth’s neck. Luckily, Emma Frost scans McCoy’s mind before he expires. Blink teleports her to his lab. Enemies and friends alike attack Nemesis. At the lab, Sheriff Carol Danvers is still in one piece and freed. Emma wants to let her waste away. Logan arrives with Jean Grey. Emma knows exactly what to do: tap into her mind to release the Phoenix Force. She is stopped by Cyclops. Essex arrives to assist in the matter. He will make a precise incision into Jean’s brain. The others join the fray. Nemesis sends Wolverine and Sabretooth into orbit. Burner sacrifices himself for Cyclops. His real name is Adam. As he dies, he mutters that he would do anything for his brother :0 Essex succeeds in unleashing the Phoenix. Nemesis is torn asunder. The others wonder if she will become dark once more. Jean proves to be resilient. She has expelled the Force. The end result is eradicating the Legacy Virus and removing the mutant gene. She removes Cyke’s visor. His vision is restored. The two hold hands and look at each other lovingly.
Domain #3: Apocalypse
Never give up and never say die: “And hope is more contagious than any virus…” – Cypher commenting on Burner’s sacrifice
How often can the Phoenix be used as the ultimate problem-solver?? It seems that Jean Grey is completely synonymous with the galaxy-spanning symbiote. She has no identity of her own in any reality. Perhaps this is why she has yet to be resurrected in the 616. Eleven years of real time has passed. Marvel is wisely letting her remain in peace. The title is indicative of a happy ending. However, if this were truly the dark age it’s named after, all the X-Men should have expired. Cypher remained embedded as third-person observer. Aside from his observations, he was utterly useless. This is a grand disservice to his abilities. Surely there could have been a way for him to be more combat-trained. At least he made it out alive! There was a slight improvement to the art. The faces were distinguished and individual. The anatomy was still way-off. I’ve never held back by saying this was not one of my faves. I tried keeping an open mind but did not find this series to be very engaging. [5/10]
“The War of the Weird” (20 pages) Jason Aaron, Mike Del Mundo, Marco D’Alfonso, VC’s Cory Petit
Arkon is wise enough not to kill himself. He’s too enraged to leave things the way they are. He finally meets the maker of his misery: Morgan Le Fey!! She has one up on him, make that down. Insult is added to injury when Arkon realizes the precise location of Polemachus: right under his feet!! It’s all-out war as his allies rally against her forces! Swamp Queen, Man-Things, Elves, Eyemazons, Man-Wolves, Skull the Slayer, Warbow and the fully-restored Crystar charge forward! A re-match with Le Fey has Arkon within arms’ length of his homeworld. Unfortunately, Battleworld blows to bits. It undoes all of Arkon’s efforts. Luckily, there is a re-set button. A plane flying over the Bermuda Triangle crashes on Weirdworld. The most grotesque creature is about to consume one of the marooned passenger. Have no fear, Arkon perseveres!!
Domain #10: Weirdworld
Not meant to be: “None of us knew what was happening all across Battleworld. A secret war. The fall of Doom. Even as everything exploded around us, we had no idea. And we never would.” – Arkon oblivious to the grand scheme of things.
I find the resolution to the conflict extremely anticlimactic. The rising action didn’t lead to a few pages of double-spread bashing. The explosion of Battleworld was totally left-field. It’s a bit maddening since the final issue of SECRET WARS doesn’t drop until December. Nevertheless, Arkon is doomed to remain on WW but he remains relentless in his goal to reach home. Mike Del Mundo is the ultimate modern-day blend of history’s greatest artists!!! The aberration on the last page is reminiscent of classic sci-fi from the 50’s or 60’s. It’s rewarding to know that this series has graduated to on-going status. BLACK KNIGHT will find himself in Arkon’s imprisoned domain. A world of wonder weird awaits!! [9/10]
“” (20 pages) Gerry Duggan, Nik Virella, Lee Loughridge, VC’s Clayton Cowles
Bruce Banner is getting the snot beaten out of him by Simon Williams. Natasha Barnes is faring much better. She’s pretending to be in utter agony. Nothing could be further from the truth. She comes to the good doctor’s rescue and easily offs Williams. Bruce knows he’s dying but Natasha refuses to hear it. They must complete Red Wolf’s mission of blowing up the dam. Speaking of which…Red Wolf stands tall as the new sheriff. The Kingpin has no friends even as he offers the highest bounty. Tony Stark, in his clunky armour, gives an awkward assist. Correction: Carl Creel is the one to take up the offer but he’s crushed by his horse thanks to an iron fist and a bullet through the head. Red Wolf has no trouble exacting revenge on Elektra. She didn’t even resist! The explosives are set. Bruce orders Natasha to skedaddle. He will trigger the agent. As he pours it into one of the jugs, he is awed by its properties. BOOM!! Bye bye, Bruce! The elder from Red Wolf’s tribe is quite content with what he hears. The mine is the next target. Kingpin vs. Red Wolf: to the death!! Red is the winner when he jabs the sheriff star in Wilson’s right eye. Ouch!! The townsfolk encourage him to kill the brick house, but he can’t bring himself to do it. Cuffing him, Red escorts him to the jail. Fisk is smug about being released and not having a trial. His smirk is wiped off his face when Natasha gets him right in the forehead!! She disappears into the crowd. Stark sees no better person qualified for the job. Red agrees to stay. Stark will offer his help. Roxxon leaves Timely alone but he sends a new agent in his stead: Johann Schmidt. Carol Danvers is elected Governor. Epilogue number one: Pastor Frank Castle and his merc Wade Wilson shoot a man (Norman Osborn) responsible for Steve Rogers’ murder. Frank states that they have five more to target (the Sinister Six). Epilogue number two: a spider outside the Parker homestead treads on the gamma goop. Another panel shows a giant footprint. As Ben narrates his reinvigoration with the newspaper, a new group protects Timely: The Avengers of the West!!
Domain #6: Valley of Doom
Core of kookiness: “Is this town the place where all the nations of the world send their crazy people?” – Red Wolf to Tony Stark
Woo-eee!! A lot of last-minute additions crammed into the final three pages. The re-imagining of Punisher (yet again) as well as an inferred mention of the Red Skull and the Sinister Six is enough to make any fan jump for jubilation (or outrage!). Plus, the not-so-subtle Hulk-sized footprint as well as the impending origin of the Spider-Man make me glee with delight. Gerry Duggan easily understood and executed the western genre. As a result, he made it enjoyable for me. The senseless violence, coupled with the basest cruelty is a black mark in America’s history. It is common knowledge that RED WOLF has been rewarded with a second on-going. I should have seen this coming but didn’t: the formation of the Avengers!! I had to look at Marvel Wikia to figure out that Luke Cage is a member. I assume the team will be guest-stars in Red’s solo title. Nik Virella is a wardrobe wiz!! Instead of marvelling over her technique, I will focus on this instead. Were this a cinematic adaptation, she would be the head costume designer with multiple Oscars on her mantle. Brava!! Ingenious having Stark Industries over the Sheriff’s office making it a mini Stark Tower. More trails will be blazed! [9/10]
Tags: Marvel Comics, Secret Wars Declassified