By Jon Durmin
Well Body Politic buddies, it’s our last month of Battleworld books. As you may have noticed back in August new titles were few and far between, and this month things are even more minimal . . .
. . . Nothing? We’ve . . . we’ve got nothing?
Let’s try something a bit different here. Since September has NO new books, not even one-shots we’ll look ahead to the singular new offering on Battleworld for early October . . .
Secret Wars: Agents of Atlas
What we know: In a Hydra dominated, Baron Zemo ruled nation of Battleworld, Jimmy Woo leads the Atlas resistance organization. With Ken “Gorilla Man” Hale, Venus, Marvel Boy, and M-11, the Human Robot on his side Woo might even stand a chance, but not if he’s a prisoner! It’s up to the Agents, with a little help from some guy named Phil Coulson, to save their fearless leader and turn the tables on Zemo!
Pros:.It’s been years since these characters have had a chance at the spotlight, and in a 40 page (almost double-sized) one-shot issue, fans of the Agents of Atlas are getting a lot of extra bang for their buck. Tom Taylor’s track record as, not just a writer, but a pick-up writer is pretty well proven with his turns stepping in to drive forward story concepts set-up by other authors in his work for DC, Dark Horse & Wildstorm and on the Superior Iron Man. If anybody can do the same with Jeff Parker’s legacy on Agents of Atlas it may be Taylor. Steve Pugh’s art is consistently dynamic, maintaining a strong narrative flow that should be a good fit for this tale of action & espionage.
Cons: The absence of Jeff Parker, a writer closely associated with nearly every story involving these characters for nearly ten years, may be a deterrent for fans. For those that aren’t already fans, it’s possible that these characters are too unfamiliar for them to feel able to hand over a picture of Abe Lincoln.
Should I buy it?: If you’ve enjoyed anything else by Taylor or Pugh, yes. If you’ve been longing for an Agents of Atlas return, yes. If you’ve been looking for a fun, but more action-intensive, rather than campy, one-and-done read, yes. Yes, it’s a $5 (okay, $4.99) book, but with the 40 page content load anybody buying this issue will be getting far more story than on the average high-profile #1 issue of any other regular length Marvel series (does it feel a bit gross to anybody else that, that’s the cover price we’re looking at now?).
Okay, so that was fun, but what else can we do with this, apparently final, Battleworld Forecast? Before we start examining what is coming ahead in our bold, new future Marvel U, I’ve decided to survey, just for you fabulous fans, our M6P core staff to see how they weathered the Battleworld, Secret Wars storm. A few simple questions to let you know 1) what our favorite series was, 2) what series didn’t meet our expectations, and 3) what our most pleasant surprise was.
Let’s start by seeing what our fearless logo caricatures, Andy and Jarid, thought.
“Awesome” Andy Kirby:
Andy’s favorite Battleworld series: “I enjoyed the Punisher Last Days story. Probably because it was very minimally impacted by Secret Wars to being with. The idea was a continuation of the Punisher story that Edmondson has been telling all along. The other Last Days stories have been okay because it is telling about when the characters are still in the 616 before Battleworld was assembled (as far as the ones I’ve read), which is as close to the previous status quo as we’re going to get at this point.”
Andy’s biggest disappointment: “This makes me sad, but I’m just so disappointed in Ultimate End. This isn’t really the 1610, because the whole world has been constructed by Doom. So I’m not even finding out what is going to happen to the Ultimate universe. It’s stuck in the middle somewhere between the idea that the 1610 and 616 collided and it is what’s left, but that’s the entire premise for what Battleworld is. I think it has been shoehorned in there to appease fans when it really has no place in this story.”
Andy was pleasantly surprised by: “Even though the rest of the world was looking forward to Old Man Logan, I was not. Why would I want to read about Logan from an in-continuity, out-of-time, Mark Millar “What-If” story? The historical mess behind it alone about where it fits makes me cringe. But, I tell you what, it’s been one of the best books for the entire tie-in books. I love the art and the story unifies the idea that Hickman has put in motion.”
Jarid’s favorite Battleworld series: “This was a hard one! I’ll end up going with Giant Size Little Marvels: AvX. It was a really funny book, with great art, and an off the wall concept.”
Jarid’s biggest disappointment: “I can only pick one? I think it’s Old Man Logan. This was a tough one as I had to decide because there were many disappointing titles, but I think this one wins because I had such HIGH expectations for it. The first issue, amazing – but after that it fell flat for me.”
Jarid was pleasantly surprised by: “Spider-Island. I had very low hopes for it but found myself REALLY enjoying it.”
Wow! Thanks for showing us how it’s done fella’s. Looks like Andy’s got mixed feelings on Brian Michael Bendis, and Jarid’s been scratching his head over the Battleworld publications. Let’s see what our second-best writer, Kevin McVicker thinks.
“Kooky” Kevin McVicker:
Kevin’s favorite Battleworld series: Old Man Logan, and the reason for this even surprised me. Usually I’m a guy that wants strong writing on comics over art. Most of the time it doesn’t matter how strong the art is; if the writing is bad I won’t care at all for a series (Avengers Assemble by DeConnick/Ellis & Buffagni), and I can overlook art I don’t like for great writing (Mighty Avengers by Ewing and Land as example). But this series has art which hooked me. I almost don’t care about the story except that it just shows Andrea Sorrentino’s prowess as an artist. Maybe I love this series because I discovered an artist that I should’ve discovered a few years ago. I’ll grant anyone the objective argument that this series isn’t the best, but subjectively it is the one I love the most.
Kevin’s biggest disappointment: This is my petty decision. Petty because for all intents and purposes this should be a great series, and is in many ways. But Squadron Sinister by Guggenheim and Pacheco had me so excited when it was announced. It’s a great concept that I love by an extremely skilled creative team. Then the cover teaser showed me something that made me even more excited: this comic was going to feature the Supreme Power group. I loved that comic. More so than even Punisher, it was my favorite Max series and the best ever take on those character archetypes. Then, within the first five pages all but one of those characters are dead. It’s a good series, but my pettiness and broken heart threw me out of the story.
Kevin was pleasantly surprised by: At first this series seems a surprise, but when I think about this entire event, I think this really is the series for me that should stand out. To explain this, I’m a fan of the old What If series, so for me this alternate worlds work best in quick one-shots, not trying to develop narratives that work with everything else in this mixed up patchwork world. So, Secret Wars Journal for me is surprisingly (but not that much) pleasantly enjoyable. I think it does a much better job of creating interesting one-off stories in these areas than almost half of the overall series. They’re just like classic What If issues: fun, fairly meaningless spins on continuity. It’s like a fast food meal, too much makes you sick, but just the right portions are really enjoyable in their own right. And that’s what Secret Wars Journal is.
Interesting insights Kevin! Now we turn to perennial M6P podcast frequent caller not-Stan Lee for his well-informed opinions . . .
not-Stan “yeah, that guy” Lee:
not-Stan’s Favorite Battleworld Series: “Wait now, what’s a Battleworld? Is this something to do with little Jimmy Shooter’s manual on playing with Spider-Man dolls?”
Jon: “No, not-Stan. It’s a collection of publications that have replaced the 616 Marvel universe that’s been in publication since 1939, as part of the new Secret Wars publishing event that is semi-inspired by Shooter’s manual on playing with Spider-Man dolls. All the miniseries run from 1-5 issues. Most of them are named after and loosely based on old “What-If . . ?” stories, or major storylines. The rest are closely linked to ‘it’ characters, like Star Lord and Captain Marvel, that are extra popular right now.”
not-Stan: “Oh! Well, then I can tell you for sure, even though I haven’t read any of them, that the Battleworld book that I’d love best is The Galactus Trilogy!”
Jon: “Yeah . . . there’s no series for that.”
not-Stan: “What?!?! That’s daffy! Okay, well then surely I’d enjoy the Silver Surfer: Parable series. I bet it’s the biggest hit yet!”
Jon: “That also is not a thing.”
not-Stan: “Well that’s very disappointing. How about Avengers-Defenders war?”
not-Stan: “Tales to Astonish?”
not-Stan: “Tales of Suspense?”
not-Stan: “Surely there’s a Kree-Skrull War miniser . . .”
not-Stan: “What about Fantastic Four: Captives of the Deadly Duo?”
Jon: “Not a thing.”
not-Stan: “Well I bet there’s a Sub-Mariner vs the Human Torch book. Or Sub-Mariner: Quest for Krang book. I mean those were Marvel’s first crossovers in the Golden Age and the Silver Age, so no doubt . . .”
Jon: “Doubt it. No and no.”
not-Stan: “Hrrrm . . . Evolutionary War?”
not-Stan: “Avengers: Hunt for the Hulk?”
not-Stan: “Acts of Vengeance?”
not-Stan: “Mutant Massacre?”
not-Stan: “The Surtr Saga?”
not-Stan: “Atlantis Attacks?”
not-Stan: “Trial of Galactus?”
Jon: *shakes head ‘No’*
not-Stan: “Fall of the Mutants?”
not-Stan: “The Death of Gwen Stacy?”
not-Stan: “Ravage 2099?”
Jon: “No. There’s a Secret Wars 2099 book, but Ravage isn’t in it.”
not-Stan: “Do they mention Ravage?”
Jon: “But Silver Surfer was in it”
not-Stan: “Fine, good enough. That one. Whatever. If I were dead I’d be spinning in my grave, True Believer.” *stands up, kicks his chair over and leaves*
Jon: not-Stan Lee everybody . . . “
So that was an interesting experience.
Perhaps “Jazzy” Jen Cappelli, our graphic design genius extraordinaire will have some insights for us.
Jen Cappelli’s favorite Battleworld series: “So I’ve been strapped for cash and can barely afford toilet paper at the moment. After paying for the convoluted and sad contents of Secret Wars #1 I decided actual toilet paper would be the better value.
Maybe “Spectacular” Skott Jiminez has something for us?
Skott’s favorite Battleworld series: “I can’t say I “loved” any single series but I really enjoyed Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX. It was the best example of a fun comic book I’ve read in a few years from Marvel.”
Skott’s biggest disappointment: “Secret Wars 2099 was a huge disappointment. It introduced Avengers 2099, pandering to the movie crowd which felt forced but the story quality was very lacking and reminded me of the ending of the original 2099 run.”
Skott was pleasantly surprised by: “There were a few that surprised me but M.O.D.O.K Assassin was one I expected nothing from but ended up being one of the few that I found myself looking forward to the most. Seeing the giant head actually out of his element just grabbed my attention, as did the art.”
Thank you Skott! Okay, now that we’re back on track lets wrap this up with the moment you’ve all been waiting for; MY brilliant answers to these brilliant questions!
Jon’s favorite Battleworld series: Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies. I should say I’ve been a huge fan of James Robinson’s work going back to The Golden Age and Starman, and this series, despite having a title that would have sent me running for the hills with just about any other writer attached, narrowly edges out X-Tinction Agenda in satisfying my hopes for a Battleworld book. It carried forward character threads from the All-New Invaders ongoing series (another recent favorite) by Robinson and collaborator Steve Pugh, and treated us to what may be one of the best depictions of Hank Pym this side of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes animated series.
Jon’s Biggest Disappointment: Like I said, I LOVE James Robinson’s work, but I just couldn’t get into the premise of Armor Wars. Maybe it’s that I don’t really care for Tony Stark. Who can say?
Jon was pleasantly surprised by: Years of Future Past! Sufferin’ Shad, this book was gooooooood. I actually liked this series even better than AoUvsMZ, but because I hadn’t expected to enjoy this series, wasn’t even going to buy it at first, I had to save it for my pleasant surprise. Marguerite Bennet’s plot was exciting, her cliffhangers strong, her subtext nuanced, and, perhaps best of all, her x-characters more true to form than under any writer since the original 15-year run of Chris Claremont himself. Mike Norton’s smooth character designs were evocative of classic X-artists Paul Smith and John Byrne, his panel composition brilliant and his action some of the most dynamic I’ve seen in years. This series evoked the look and feel of the definitive, classic X-Men tales that have held up across generations, and why this team doesn’t have the run of the X-Franchise post-Secret Wars is befuddling to me.
So now that you know what we all think it’s your turn Body Politic! We really, really want to see YOUR answers to our big three questions in the comments below. Keep your eyes peeled for our next column predicting the merits of series in an All New, All Different Marvel Universe!