Secret Empire: August 2017 – Tie-ins

Before I get started, I’ll address the elephants in the room. I picked up Captain America #25 after reading this post by the brilliant Michael J Miller over at My Comic Relief. It compares events seen in Charlottesville in mid-August to Captain America #25 and Secret Empire. He has composed an outstanding reflection on the marches, seamlessly weaving in links to Secret Empire, and how we can help tackle an issue that really shouldn’t exist at this stage in our development as a global community. You should definitely check it out and, while you’re there, follow his blog if you don’t already do so. He is a phenomenal blogger who produces brilliant content on a variety of topics from comics to politics. Go now!

A considerably smaller elephant in comparison, All-new Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 was purchased because I felt like I wasn’t really sure what was going on outside of the planetary shield. It has since lead to me adding the series to my pull list which is both a good and bad thing. Needless to say it definitely achieved the purpose I desired.

 

All-new Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1

  • With things taking a turn for the worse, the Guardians have gone on a search mission for help. They don’t get many takers…
  • Mantis informs them of a weapon that could break the Shield but it means teaming up with an old adversary: Yondu Udonta!
  • After making it to Galactus’ home, the Guardians set to work. However, Yondu betrays them, his Ravager crew arriving to steal the weapon.
  • After a brief fight with the locals and amongst themselves, the Guardians return to Earth with nothing but a renewed sense of support for each other.

This was my first proper experience with this title having read this one before the first issue. Within 2 pages I found myself questioning why it had taken so long for me to get on board with this title. Considering my then limited funding (Paid work most definitely has its perks) it didn’t seem practical to add a fortnightly title to an already busy pull list. However, the weird and wonderful creatures the Guardians encountered reminded me what I was missing: a touch of cosmic adventure (That being said, I have been enjoying Slott’s run on Silver Surfer immensely). I’ll talk about all this more when I review the first 12 issues (Coming Soon (So anywhere between a week and 6 months really) but it delivered exactly what I wanted.

Though the pursuit for a massive weapon can be seen as a touch uninspired, the adventure that ensued was rather entertaining. Their clash with the Ravagers was amusing and it was great to see Yondu in comic form. However, the best was saved for last. Sure the Guardians failed rather spectacularly but the events helped Quill’s teammates see past their dislike of Earth and lead to them standing with him once again as more than just a team but a family ready to take on any challenges in their way. Bowers and Sims delivered one heck of an annual that I have to thank for getting me on board the Milano once more.

Alongside exceptional storytelling, Beyruth and Bonvillain deliver fantastic art. The sense of fun generated in the opening sequence and beyond drew me in almost instantly, the peculiar creatures really coming alive on the page.

  • Story – 9/10
  • Art – 8/10
  • Overall – 8.5/10

 

Amazing Spider-man #31

  • Spider-man is up against the Superior Octopus, distracting the villain whilst his employees do all they can to stop Octavius getting his hands on company secrets.
  • In a final attempt to stop Otto, Peter sends out a message calling for his employees to lay waste to Parker Industries. Otto is decidedly furious.
  • Octavius sets off an EMP, believing it will disarm Spider-man. However, Parker always comes prepared, storing his old costume underneath.
  • Otto distracts Spider-man by informing him of the implications of the EMP on the suspended Spider-mobile. Otto slips away, leaving Parker amongst the ruins of his company.

I won’t deny that I’m sad to see Parker Industries fall quite so spectacularly but it was definitely the right thing to do. Parker was willing to sacrifice everything to protect the lives of millions, a perfect reflection of just how selfless he is. Alongside this came a fantastic duel between Spider-man and the Superior Octopus. The banter was so genuine even looking back on it now I can’t help but smile. Despite the overwhelming odds, Spider-man can still crack a joke. Overall, an issue that truly reminds the reader of the sort of man Peter Parker has become.

Parker isn’t the only character explored this issue. Otto Octavius has faced a fair few challenges himself over this entire volume and one couldn’t help but feel a little bit sorry for a guy who has been reduced to nothing more than another Hydra agent. I’m very curious to see how that pans in future issues, I fully believe there is a storm coming where Otto is concerned. A fantastic finale to a solid tie-in arc from Slott.

As ever, Immonen delivers exceptional art that really brings the battles to life. One can’t help but marvel at his wonderful illustrations that cement the anguish, hope and anger of the characters depicted.

  • Story – 9/10
  • Art – 8/10
  • Overall – 8.5/10

 

Captain America #25

  • Hydra Cap has declared war on the nations of Wakanda and New Tian, laying waste to both in a desperate search for Cosmic Cube fragments.
  • Meanwhile, Sam Wilson has donned his Cap uniform once more, delivering a rousing speech about returning to the light and fighting the good fight once more.
  • As Avengers, he leads the heroes to an Inhuman prison, helping to release them from captivity. Here they meet Barf, an Inhuman with an incredibly important power.
  • With the help of Barf, the Underground are back in the fight with an all important item under the belts. Also, an old ally joins the battle once more. Things are looking up…

I’m going to perfectly honest and say my reflection on this issue is going to be no where near as powerful as the stuff Michael wrote in his post which, if you haven’t checked already, is something you need to read (Along with everything else he posts which is nothing short of excellent, fantastic, exceptional… (The list goes on)). That being said, I’m going to give it a shot.

First things first, this is definitely an important tie-in for Secret Empire. It demonstrates the corrupting nature of power, the difficulties that come with attempting to overthrow an evil establishment but also about finding hope in the face of overwhelming odds, all in one issue, something it achieves pretty seamless. Sam Wilson returns as Captain America with a dynamic pose that one can’t help but feel inspired by. The consequent counter-offensive goes on to demonstrate something forgotten in the midst of the past few years: what it truly means to be a hero. Sure it might be a little cliché but, as a I touched upon with Secret Empire #10, a bit of cliché in the face of something quite so awful isn’t all that bad. Even the slightly lazy plot device in relation to the acquisition of a rather important item doesn’t feel too forced, tying up a loose end from the very beginning of all this. All in all, a pretty crucial and empowering tie-in from Spencer.

Saiz, Bennett and Pimentel deliver some awesome art to match an empowering story. If only somewhat disjointed, the bright images and bold costumes of much beloved heroes shine a light on what has been a dark few months.

  • Story – 9/10
  • Art – 8/10
  • Overall – 8.5/10

 

Champions #11

  • The team are helping deal with the aftermath of Las Vegas. Falcon and Hulk are attempting to help put out a rather large fire but nothing works…
  • Ironheart, Patriot and Spidey attempt to open a plane to check for survivors but find something awful…
  • The team regroup with nothing to show for their desperate rescue mission. They come to realisation that they need to put aside their differences with the old ways to deal with this.
  • However, it wasn’t a completely hopeless search. Patriot manages to take down a Hydra drone and rescue a baby.

Seeing the Las Vegas incident from the perspective of the Champions was something I didn’t realise I needed. Considering the incredible focus this team has on helping the voiceless, seeing quite so much destruction is bound to have an effect. It was honestly a bit heart-breaking. No one should have to see what these young people had to witness and seeing them feeling quite so lost was rather distressing.

Despite seeing quite so much destruction, it was great to then see the Champions still standing. Sure they’re struggling to see where they fit into all this, the very people they swore to protect ignoring the atrocities right in front of them, but they aren’t giving up. Waid concludes the Secret Empire tie-in arc reminding readers just how strong these heroes are.

Ramos faced additional challenges this issue, having to illustrate some rather intense scenes. From start to finish he delivers some powerful images truly embodying the emotions the heroes are having to work through with powerful simplicity.

  • Story – 9/10
  • Art – 10/10
  • Overall – 9.5/10

 

Doctor Strange #24

  • Doctor Strange and his team are taking the fight to Baron Mordo armed with a variety of magical do-dads. Mordo is not happy.
  • He seeks out the Doctor and proceeds to unleash a storm of attacks on the Doctor but nothing hurts him.
  • Mordo is furious. He manages to overcome the group, Doctor Strange being the only one left. However, it was all just a clever decoy.
  • In control of the Sanctum, the Doctor releases the trapped heroes who take out Mordo. With all relatively okay, Doctor Strange takes a bit of time out for himself.

A satisfying ending from Hopeless, delivering a wonderful tale of magic and deception. Doctor Strange’s capture of the Sanctum was a bit of a surprise which is always nice and it was fantastic to see his allies unleashing the might of magical items. All in all, a solid issue full to the brim with magic, monsters and madness. Not much else to be said really…

Henrichon ties up this solid ending with his usual consistently fab art that captures the foul beasts the Doctor and his friends are against up brilliantly. He has done a fab job of capturing life in the Darkforce dome, displaying its horror in magnificent depth.

  • Story – 7/10
  • Art – 8/10
  • Overall – 7.5/10

That concludes the Secret Empire tie-ins (For now, I will probably get to read the X-men ones in a few months once Secret Empire arrives in my UK Collectors Editions which I may do a little segment on depending on how much I enjoy them). Overall, they have been great companion reads to the main event, both in adding extra content to an already rich tapestry as well standing alone as pretty great arcs for some of my favourite characters. If you have any thoughts or questions please feel free to leave them in the comments.

 

 

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