Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written by Michel Fiffe, Felipe Smith, Jeremy Whitley, Marguerite Bennett, and Katie Cook
Art by Michel Fiffe, Felipe Smith, Kris Anka, and Katie Cook
Colored by Val Staples
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
“Crossover besties 4 lyfe, bro!!!”
One of the most exciting things about the Secret Wars tie-ins is seeing how creative teams run away with the Battleworld concept and tell stories that couldn’t happen in the regular Marvel Universe. Secret Wars: Secret Love is an anthology issue that takes its inspiration from Marvel’s romance comics of the 1950s and 60s, telling brand new stories about superheroes in love—with a few demons, bugs, and even a dinosaur thrown in for good measure.
The comic begins with Michael Fiffe’s “Guilty Pleasure,” which is a love letter to Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr.’s 1980s run on Daredevil. In the Inferno domain of Battleworld, Daredevil fights Typhoid Mary while his girlfriend Karen Page frets over the idea that he and Mary are having an affair. Fiffe’s artwork nicely captures the insanity of the demonically-possessed New York City and how it mirrors Karen’s inner turmoil. Unfortunately, the struggle between Karen and Typhoid Mary—the good girl vs. the evil temptress—relies a little too much on the Madonna/Whore dichotomy for me to fully enjoy it.
In “Fan of a Fan” Felipe Smith returns to the world of Ghost Racers to tell a fun story about Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan meeting Ghost Rider/Robbie Reyes. The short comic is an excellent showcase for Smith’s range as an artist, as he draws flaming skull-faced warriors and starry-eyed teenagers with equal skill. “Ms. Marvel and Ghost Rider” is a team-up I never would have thought of, but it’s a marvelous ride.
“Misty and Danny Forever” centers on Misty Knight and Iron Fist, now retired superheroes raising a young daughter and trying to put the spark back in their marriage. Gurihiru’s art is adorable—be prepared to squeal over little Dani Cage and Lucy Rand playing with Power Man and Iron Fist plushies. Jeremy Whitley’s script deserves kudos for its natural-sounding dialogue and an attention to detail that makes Misty and Danny thoroughly believable as a couple who have been together a long time and are rediscovering why they love each other.
Magueritte Bennett and Kris Anka make the most out of three pages with the absurdly cute “Squirrel Girl Wins a Date with Thor.” One page depicting several fan-favorite couples partying in Asgard proved popular on social media even before the comic was published, but as nice as it is to see Prodigy and Speed kissing or Mary Jane Watson dancing with Gwen Stacy, the scene inadvertently highlights how super hetero the rest of the issue is. Maybe if there’s a Secret Wars: Secret Love #2, a queer couple could get a story of their own? Anyway, Kris Anka’s Squirrel Girl driving a chariot led by giant squirrels is an absolute joy.
The final story is “Happy Ant-Iversary” written and drawn by Katie Cook. In Bugville, Ant-Man and Wasp (or rather, Ant and Wasp, since they are literally insects) are married, and Wasp follows a series of clues left by her husband that lead to a romantic surprise. It’s a pleasant, mostly-wordless comic with some amusing visual puns (Black Widow is, well, a black widow, and Thor is from “As-garden”), though it’s undercut a bit by Cook’s self-deprecating narrative voice. There’s something to enjoy in every story in Secret Wars: Secret Love, and the book’s emphasis on love and humor make it a welcome respite from the sometimes grim action happening all across Battleworld.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Al Ewing
Art by Alan Davis (pencils) and Mark Farmer (inks)
Colored Wil Quintana
Lettered by Travis Lanham
“LOOK AT ALL MY GUNS!”
One of the shortest tie-ins yet, Captain Britain is already coming to a close, and while I’m sad to see it go, it’s one hell of a strong ending. The book feels like a great hybrid of the varied, explosive stories we’ve seen in Mighty Avengers and features a cast that is culled from some great alternate futures and realities. Their enemies, the Bosses of Mondo City, are visually and tonally a solid parody of Judge Dredd and 2000 A.D. stories. There are plenty of funny bits in the story too, from the poor, mangled War Machine at the end to the talking torture chair, and Ewing has always been great at clever escapes and unexpected endings.
The end of the issue is actually strongly reminiscent of the last Ewing/Davis collaboration, Ultron Forever. While it might feel a little easy to some people, I’m actually very relieved by Ewing’s commitment to finding solutions to conflicts in comics that don’t come down to who throws the last punch. There’s a way to tell aspirational stories in comics that focus on healing and peace as opposed to fighting, and Yinsen City and the Defenders have a been a great example. It’s been a fun two issues, and I can’t wait to read what Ewing’s got in store post-Secret Wars.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Stuart Immonen (pencils) and Wade Von Grawbadger (inks)
Colored by Justin Ponsor
“She’s not my wife!”
Well, that was disappointing. Returning from a flashback/fill-in issue, Jason Aaron and new artist Stuart Immonen resume the main story of the title, or at least they run in place for an issue as things don’t seem to go anywhere during this issue.
Hiding from an Imperial fleet on a planet that is an old hideout of Han’s, he and Leia are confronted by a woman who claims to be Han’s wife. He says she’s not. They yell this at each other for ten or so pages and it’s annoyingly boring. It doesn’t help that Sana Solo, Han’s alleged wife, is such an empty character. She doesn’t seem to exist to be anything other than a plot device to delay Han and Leia. A huge deal has been made out of her existence, but I wish they had given her some form of personality. Meanwhile Luke, disappointed he has no one to teach him to be a Jedi, tries to find a ride to the one place that can help his search, and also the absolute worst place in the universe for him to go.
Worse than wasting the reader’s time, this issue wastes some great work by Stuart Immonen. Probably my favorite artist working today, he is clearly engaged with the material. His opening pages featuring the Imperial fleet are absolutely stunning. While the script serves him up too many pages of people talking to each other, he makes them look the best they can. He has the likenesses of the Star Wars actors down perfectly, they don’t look traced. Especially in his pages featuring Luke, he captures the character so completely that it had me just staring at the page for a few minutes.
I really loved the first six issue of this series. Jason Aaron had thoroughly captured the voice of the original trilogy movies and was progressing the story with a great deal of momentum, unfortunately, this issue grinds that momentum to a halt. It really feels like he’s playing for time, maybe the forthcoming Darth Vader crossover made him stretch one issue into two. Regardless of the reasoning, I’m really hoping for this series to get back on track. With such amazing art, the writing has to catch up.