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Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 [Review]

secretwars_battleworld001Soldier Supreme; M.O.D.O.K. Madness

Writers: Joshua Williamson, Ed Brisson
Artists: Mike Henderson, Scott Hepburn
Color Artists: Jordan Boyd, Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Paco Medina
Editor: Jon Moisan
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue gives us two stories set in Battleworld. The first is a skirmish between a Punisher merged with the spirit of Dr. Strange, Sorceror Supreme and The Infernal Four (a Hulk, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, and Spider-Man). The battle seems to shift things from one status quo to another, perhaps a transitional/origin type thing for stuff either to come or as a side-story to put a reference “on-panel.”

The other story shows us a bunch of M.O.D.O.K.s brought together by a “prime” MODOK who has realized it might be best to work with himself rather than others. Of course, this really turns out to be a poor plan, as MODOK(s) tend to have a bit too much ego to not try to be THE leader of any group instead of following.

I was good with the art for both stories. Though I’m not particularly familiar with the visual team, I had no real issue following along and was simply able to take in the story as I turned the pages. The stories themselves, similarly, were simply what they were. Essentially half-issue length done-in-ones to offer us glimpses of different characters that might not otherwise get a spotlight in Secret Wars.

Opening the issue and seeing that there were two stories, I was immediately disappointing, mentally flashing back to the “extended fight-scenes” nature of AvX: Vs from several years ago and assumed this was that series’ counterpart. Actually reading the issue I was pleasantly surprised to find something that while still basically “just” fights, at least a little more plot-driven and developmental for Secret Wars.

I could see enjoying this series for the glimpses of characters not otherwise overly spotlighted, but I’ve also been “trained” to be used to (and even prefer) the multi-issue/several-issue stories. Given that, these seem to (by simple pagecount) lack something to be more engaging and interesting for me.

All in all it’s not a bad issue, and well worth reading if you enjoy MODOK or the Sorceror Supreme…or if (like me) you’re simply delving into Secret Wars and want to see characters from different (former) realities interacting. This should also work well as a “companion” book to expand on the main Secret Wars book running through the event.

Battleworld does not seem (yet) to be all that ESSENTIAL…just kinda fun-ish and “worthwhile” to read if you so choose. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll continue with the series…it might depend on how much clustering there is the week the next issue is out and whether I feel like adding it to the stack.

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Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Meeting of the Minds

The Leader and his group of intellectual villains work behind the scenes through Marvel’s history to assemble the lost knowledge of the Library of Alexandria.

fallofthehulksalphaWriter: Jeff Parker
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorists: Guru eFX
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Ed McGuinness, Mark Farmer, Dave Stewart
Production: Irene Y. Lee
Assistant Editor: Jordan D. White
Associate Editor: Nathan Cosby
Senior Editor: Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel Comics

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this issue, except perhaps a jumping-on point in preparation for the coming Fall of the Hulks "event." What I did not expect was what seems to essentially be an "Illuminati" of intellectual Marvel villains and their "backstory" throughout Marvel’s past.

This issue basically follows The Leader, M.O.D.O.K., Egghead, The Wizard, The Mad Thinker, The Red Ghost, and Dr. Doom as they assemble the contents of the formerly-believed-lost contents of the Library of Alexandria through the years. Their first mission is an incursion into the home of the Eternals. Here the protagonists discover there are other locations around the planet with further Alexandrian contents, including Wakanda and Atlantis. Bucking the silver Age trend of simplicity, here we see that it takes months and years for the protagonists to prepare to actually launch a mission to gain the knowledge they’re after, as well as the explanation that allows for what we’ve already seen in the last half-decade of continuity regarding these characters. As the issue closes out, we get some info regarding the Red Hulk, which actually intrigues me after never before this having any interest in even the concept of that character.

The story is pretty good in and of itself. It’s not spectacular, and I’m not a huge fan of retcons…but for my understanding of things, the backstory that is here inserted into existing continuity seems to work. Additionally, I feel like I have a better understanding of who The Leader and The Red Ghost are now than I ever did before.
The art is also quite solid…while keeping its own feel, it also evokes some of the feeling of the different eras the story touches upon.

Though I came to the issue familiar with little more than the characters’ names and visual representations (excepting Dr. Doom), everyone was quite recognizable, and I really enjoyed the visuals.
Even though I’ve not followed the Hulk side of the Marvel Universe since World War Hulk ended, I still really enjoyed this issue and found that I didn’t need to know recent events. I’ve often enjoyed stories that flesh out villain characters and give them depth and motivation, and true explanation for why they would door act as they do, and this is one such issue.

I expect this is little more than set-up in the grand scheme of things, but if you want a Leader story involving a teaming-up of supervillains (including death and betrayal) reminiscent of 1980s stories but with a modern feel, this is a great issue for that.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Fall of the Hulks: Alpha [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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