Friday, April 3, 2009

Comic Review: Secret War (Marvel Comics)

Secret War #1-5
(2004-2005)
SECRET WAR #1 - cover image - Marvel ComicsSECRET WAR #2 - cover image - Marvel ComicsSECRET WAR #3 - cover image - Marvel ComicsSECRET WAR #4 - cover image - Marvel ComicsSECRET WAR #5 - cover image - Marvel Comics

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Gabriele Dell’Otto
Published by Marvel Comics

One year ago, Nick Fury learned that many of the technologically-enhanced super-villains have been getting their equipment from the Tinkerer. Through intense questioning of every techno-baddie that S.H.I.E.L.D. could get their hands on, he learned that the Tinkerer wasn’t the top of the food chain. In fact, he was only the middle man. At the top of the chain lies new Latverian Prime Minister Lucia von Bardas, whose main objective is easily defined as terrorism.

Going to the Commander in Chief with this news, Fury is expecting orders to deal with the problem with extreme prejudice. He’s essentially told, however, to just forget all about it. Deciding that if his government isn’t going to take care of this increasing problem, then he’s going to do it his damn self, Fury recruits Captain America, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Black Widow, Luke Cage, Wolverine, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson to assist him on this “Secret War”, taking it to the Prime Minister’s home turf of Latveria.

Flash forward to the “present”, and said techno-villains are looking for revenge against those who brought down their master. Only problem is…none of the heroes remember even fighting in the Secret War, which I guess is why they call it a secret. Only Nick Fury retains his memory of the event, and he’s not too open with the details.

The real problem with this is that very little of the Secret War is actually shown in the pages of Secret War. For the most part, it’s as much a secret to us the readers as it is to most of the Marvel Universe. The majority of this mini-series is about the aftermath of the Secret War. That’s right…it’s about the fallout from an event that has never actually happened—or, at least, has never been shown.

Five issues was perhaps stretching it out a bit, as much of it seemed padded. I’ve seen a number of people state that this is the greatest mini-series to ever be released by Marvel, but I just don’t buy that for a moment. While the concept may have been promising, the execution fell more than a little flat. All along the way, you get the feeling that the story they’re not telling is much more interesting than the story that they are telling.

The art was fully painted by Gabriele Dell’Otto and is excellently close-to-lifelike. He’s no Alex Ross, but then again, who is? But the characters are easily recognizable, at least when in costume, and the gritty style is quite fitting for the dark tone of the story. It seemed a bit ridiculous that each of the Secret Warriors donned a new costume for the war in Latveria…especially as how it was shown for only a handful of panels, but...what are you gonna do?

I’ll probably be crucified for this, but I preferred Secret Wars over Secret War.

That’s right I said it.

Deal with it.

--J/Metro

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