Sunday, 26 July 2015

Secret Wars #2 - Marvel Comics

SECRET WARS No. 2, July 2015
Containing an astounding forty-one pages of enthralling, masterfully written adventure, it is abundantly clear why “Issue Two” of “Secret Wars” managed to sell a staggering 210,807 copies in May 2015. Written and designed by Jonathan Hickman, this comic is a virtuoso of all things “Marvel Worldwide” in its depiction of a 'Battleworld' ruled by the disturbingly surreal Court of Victor Von Doom and policed by an army of hammer-wielding Thors against threats such as a zombie-infested Deadlands, “the seasonal migration of the drone army that is the Annihilation Wave” and the “self-replicating, super-evolving automatons” of “the damned Ultron A.I.”

Indeed the Marvel Universe has rarely seemed more compellingly attractive yet disconcertingly unfamiliar. For whilst the South Carolina-born author has packed this ‘alternative universe’ narrative with as many of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby’s highly-memorable characters as he could. Every single one of them is in some way different to the super-heroes and villains all comic book collectors will remember. Especially the former leader of the fictional nation of Latveria, who in this title reigns supreme as the all-white “God Doom”, sitting “in judgement on his throne Yggdrasil -- The World Tree” and served by the “Sheriff of Agamatto” Doctor Stephen Strange.

However rather than alienate this series’ audience, all these potentially disconcerting differences, such as Galactus simply being a somewhat emaciated-looking “world-eating sentinel” who “stands guard over Castle Doom”, actually unite together to create a genuinely gripping tale packed full of both scheming ‘medieval-based’ political intrigue and occasional flashes of invigorating violence. In fact arguably the highlight of this magazine has to be Baron Jamie Braddock’s banishment to “the Shield”; a “two hundred and fifty feet tall and sixteen thousand miles long” wall “built to keep out the nightmares that live” beyond. Resplendent in his red, white and blue costume and armed with a seriously large laser-sword, the ill-fated ‘Captain Britain’ bravely battles “the zombie horde”, disembowelling a smart-mouthed ‘undead’ Venom and partially decapitating a decaying Rhino with a single slash of his hand-weapon.

Such an epic storyline is made all the more impressive by the stunning illustration work of Esad Ribic and color artist Ive Svorcina. The Croatian comic book penciller’s drawings are breathtakingly detailed throughout and whilst the vast majority of the personalities involved within Hickman’s stellar script are definitely distinctive from their more orthodox ‘Marvel Universe’ counterparts, none of the Zagreb-born sketcher’s reimagined figures are unrecognisable.
The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 2 by Alex Ross

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