Tag Archives: Secret Wars (2015)

A Spider-Man #1 Review – The Rise of Spidey Jr.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara PichelliTITLE: Spider-Man #1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILLER: Sara Pichelli
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: February 3, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As someone who followed Miles Morales’ adventures in the now defunct Ultimate Universe, Spider-Man #1 was an adjustment, and initially confusing. While this issue was mostly enjoyable, it left me wondering if Miles’ inclusion in the Marvel Universe proper will be a good thing for him in the long run.

After the events of Secret Wars, Miles and his cast of supporting characters have been retconned into the main Marvel Universe. In terms of backstory, our intro tells us the basics: Miles was bitten by a radioactive spider, became Spider-Man, and has only shared his secret with his father and his best friend Ganke. We see Miles try (unsuccessfully) to balance life as a teenager, and life as a superhero. But when Blackheart terrorizes New York City and leaves the Avengers laying, Miles can’t simply sit in class and do nothing…

I found a bit of dark humor in Blackheart’s appearance here. He’s the son of Mephisto, the demon who warped reality for Peter Parker (for better or worse) back in One More Day, and now that reality has been changed for Miles, Mephisto’s son pops up. Maybe that’s why Spider-Man has such notorious bad luck. He’s always got the devil watching him.

Spider-Man #1, Sara PichelliSpider-Man #1 confirms that much of what we enjoyed about Miles in the Ultimate Universe is still intact here. The most important of which are his wit and personality, and his friendship with Ganke. What it doesn’t tell us is how things have or have not changed. Miles apparently remembers everything that happened during his time in the Ultimate Universe, and on Battleworld. But this issue doesn’t tell us that. I myself had to find that out via an interview with Bendis. So if Miles remembers, does his father remember too? What about Ganke? If not, did he tell them? What about Peter Parker? What does he know about where Miles came from?

This is an instance where an issue #0 might have come in handy. I’m not suggesting one needs to know all of Miles’ exposition before reading Spider-Man #1. But it would have helped bridge the gap between this issue and Secret Wars. We wouldn’t have had to comb through every inch of Miles’ continuity. Just a brief look at what the Ultimate Universe was, and how Miles fits into the primary Marvel Universe. That way, all the nagging questions are answered. Hopefully Bendis is planning on addressing those questions sooner rather than later anyway. But an issue #0 would have been an easy access point.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara Pichelli, spash pageDespite the confusion, Miles is nicely portrayed as a teenage superhero torn in so many different directions. Parents, grades, girls, not to mention the Avengers-level threat attacking the city. It’s classic Spider-Man stuff, really. There’s a great scene where Miles tries to talk his way out of class, hears no from his teacher, and then simply walks out. Even if this is your first exposure to him, I imagine it’d be hard not to root for Miles here.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Ganke to Miles and his world. They’ve almost got a Frodo/Sam dynamic going on. Miles is obviously the hero, and that’s okay with Ganke, who is simply happy to help his friend however he can. He’s very endearing that way. Miles and Ganke can also consistently pull off “Bendis Banter,” i.e. Bendis’ trademark hit-or-miss attempts at witty dialogue, without it grating on the reader. Perhaps that’s because coming from two teenage boys, it feels more believable than usual. In any event, readers can be grateful Ganke jumped universes alongside his best bud.

Sara Pichelli is once again drawing Miles in this issue, and that’s something fans can be thankful for. As the artist who drew his origin story, there’s a special vibe any time she’s with the character. To her credit, she’s aged him very convincingly. As awkward as it sounds, if you’ve followed Miles from his first appearance up to Spider-Man #1, it legitimately looks like we’ve seen this character go through puberty. So often, comic books are like revolving doors when it comes to writers and artists that we don’t typically see that happen.

Spider-Man #1, 2016, Sara Pichelli, While we don’t see much of him in this issue, it looks like we’ll soon be diving into how Peter Parker effects Miles’ life, and his role as Spider-Man. Quite frankly, I’m nervous about that.

In the Ultimate Marvel line, Miles became Spider-Man after Peter Parker died. That was part of what garnered so much publicity when the character made his debut. He wasn’t just some spinoff character. He was the Spider-Man. In this new series, he’s a Spider-Man. The tried and true Spidey is still alive and well, and from the get-go, Miles is somewhat redundant. The two characters even share the same home city. Miles may as well be called Spidey Jr. I’m reminded of the brief period when Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both wore the mantle of Batman before the New 52 launched. That didn’t last long, and typically this kind of dichotomy doesn’t. So what happens to Miles when it’s time for there to be only one Spider-Man?

Furthermore, this whole All-New, All-Different initiative is obviously a hook for new readers. But to what degree does having two Spider-Men cause confusion among those readers?

Still, despite lingering questions Spider-Man #1 delivers. For those of us familiar with Miles, we get the next chapter in his story. New readers are introduced to a young hero, who depending one’s perspective, may be the rightful Spider-Man of the 21st century.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Secret Wars #2 Review – A Journey to Battleworld

Secret Wars #2 cover, Alex RossTITLE: Secret Wars #2
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hicks
PENCILLER: Esad Ribic. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: May 13, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The key to Secret Wars thus far, especially if you’re an A.D.D. guy like me, seems to be taking your time. There’s so much going on, and the scope of it is so huge, it might even take you a few reads to absorb everything. It is the end of the universe after all…

We spend most of this issue exploring Battleworld, a planet made up of pieces of the traditional Marvel Universe, the Ultimate Marvel Universe, and various other universes and timelines. To Jonathan Hickman’s credit, there’s a hierarchy to the world that seems very thought-out. The emerging conflict in this story seems very organic. This runs contrary to what DC did with Convergence, which segregated all the alternate universes, and then had a God-like figure simply force the various characters to fight.

It takes awhile to explain how Battleworld works. But once you get it, you come away with a certain enthusiasm for it all. So let’s hit some bulletpoints…

Secret Wars #2, Doctor Doom– Doctor Doom is revered as a god and an all-powerful creator.

– Doctor Strange is Doom’s right hand and acting lawmaker.

– This world’s police are the Thors, who police the various realms. They essentially guide us through the issue, and the world at large.

– Those who breach the borders must become part of The Shield (No wrestling fans, not that Shield.), a group that guards the realms from various hazards and hostilities.

– More serious offenders may be banished to the Deadlands, i.e. an underworld which is home to symbiotes, Ultron robots, and Annihilus drones.

If you’re watching Game of Thrones, much of this should seem familiar, particularly the stuff about The Shield and the Deadlands. I half expected to see Jon Snow pop up during the second half of the issue. Still, it works. And it’s all so rich in Marvel mythology, most of which newer Marvel readers (and perhaps even some of the more seasoned ones) won’t pick up on.

Secret Wars #2, Doctor Strange, Mr. SinisterAs compelling as Battleworld itself is, the most interesting aspect of this issue is Doctor Doom himself. We see that in addition to Doctor Strange, Sue Storm and her daughter Valeria are among his inner circle. The fact that they’re there, especially considering this is the original Marvel Universe’s Doctor Doom (As said by Hickman himself.), is extremely interesting. The duality between Doom’s more natural sadistic state, and the more merciful side we see brought to the surface by Sue, is also curious. How this progresses, and presumably unravels, in the issues to come will be interesting to see.

There’s also an interesting Science vs. Religion conflict here. Apparently the Thors have another job: To quarantine and keep secret anything that might cause believers to lose their faith in Doom as a god. Yet another curious seed planted.

Needless to say, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into with Secret Wars #2. But if you’re willing to stick it out and wade your way through the initial confusion, you’ll find out there’s a pretty good story on the table here. Granted, there’s still plenty of time for them to screw it up. But for now, they’ve got me interested. And as someone who’s been out of touch with Marvel lately, that’s no small feat.

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from author’s collection.

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A Secret Wars #1 Review – A Noob’s Nightmare

Secret Wars #1 (2015)TITLE: Secret Wars #1
AUTHOR: Jonathan Hickman
PENCILLER: Esad Ribic. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: May 6, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not a Marvel noob by any means. I’ve been a reader for a long time. But full disclosure: I’ve been out of the loop lately. As such, Secret Wars #1 was bewildering to me on a number of levels. But my God, if it threw me for a loop, imagine what it must have done to those poor noobs…

You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that saw Avengers: Age of Ultron on the first of the month, then came out to the comic shop several days later to see what the hell these Marvel comic books were all about. And low and behold, they found this: A book that pits the primary Marvel Universe against the Ultimate Marvel Universe in a desperate fight to survive as the multiverse collapses. And what’s more, it’s wrapped in a gorgeous Alex Ross cover (Oh hell, they’re all gorgeous.) very much reminiscent of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Secret Wars #1, 2015But indeed, a new Marvel Universe is about to be formed. And to  be fair, Marvel is doing what it can to keep everybody in the know. The book has a plain white expository page that simply says: “The multiverse is dying. Only two universes remain. Today, Earths collide.” That’s a pretty simplistic view of something that’s not simple at all. But it states things pretty plainly. We also get cast page, that diagrams almost everybody in the issue. Hell, the issue even comes with a giant foldout of Battleworld, which as I understand it, is where much of the story will take place.

The issue also has a pretty damn good hook, as Doctor Doom, Doctor Strange, and Molecule Man come face-to-face with the Beyonders, as an unknown narrator talks to us about God, and what happens when we die. Heavy stuff. But appropriate I suppose, considering, you know, it’s the end of the universe. When we circle back to it at the end, it’s fairly strong.

If you’ve been following the Ultimate books and the main Marvel stuff, there are some cool moments to be found here. Captain Marvel and Ultimate Iron Man face off. We see the Triskelion fly into primary Marvel Manhattan. Both versions of Spider-Man seem to simply be caught up in the mayhem, which I find fitting considering their standing within their respective fictional universes. But most of my cool points go to the sequence with The Punisher in the bar (see below). Talk about a scene with a punch line…

Secret Wars #1, Punisher, bar sceneStill, the issue jumps around so much between different characters that it can almost be frustrating, especially if you’re not familiar with who’s who. It’s understandable, considering the scope of what’s happening. But in the span of one issue (An oversized issue, but still a single issue.), we jump from Luke Cage and Iron Fist, to the Guardians of the Galaxy, to Storm and Thor, to Captain America and Iceman. And that’s just one page (shown above in part)! Throw in the fact that some of these characters don’t look the way mainstream culture knows them, i.e. Thor being a woman and Sam Wilson being Captain America, and the cyclone of confusion only gets stronger.

Both Esad Ribic and colorist Ive Svorcina deserve much credit for the much-needed epic feel they inject into the issue. While we don’t see a great deal of it here, Esad’s rendering of the Doctor Doom mask is awesomely intimidating. The desperation, terror, and determination he draws our heroes with is a beautiful thing. And Svorcina makes the issue a beautiful blaze of color, particularly in the way she reflects the colors in the sky off the various costumes. The issue as a whole is a lot to take in. But once you do, you know it’s gorgeous.

Regardless of how you rate the issue, between Secret Wars and Convergence, I’ve officially got event comic fatigue. More specifically, multiverse fatigue. No matter which worlds survive these respective crises, I can honestly say I’m ready to go back to my regularly scheduled comic books. Anybody else up for a non-event comic or two?

Image 1 from pastemagazine.com. Image 2 from gaish.tumblr.com.

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