Sunday, July 19, 2015

Grading Marvel's Battle World: Round Two

Marvel's Battle World is well under way, so let's take a look at more of the Secret Wars tie-ins.

Age of Apocalypse #1
Fabian Nicieza and Gerardo Sandoval

Cypher is hunted by agents of Apocalypse and rebels alike, for some destined role he will play in the future of the world ruled by the mad mutant Apocalypse.  With pretty minor powers, it's cool to see how his abilities come into play in a neat way.  And there are fun battles and interesting alliances going on.  It's rather enjoyable revisiting this post-apocalyptic world

Grade: B

Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1
Al Ewing and Alan Davis

The whole remembering-there-were-worlds-before and we-can't-talk-about-it thing is getting a little old by this point.  In this new title, which does not feature Brian Braddock as Captain Britain, but rather Faiza Hussain (from Captain Britain and MI-13) as the title character, we see two neighboring territories - Mondo City and Yinsen City, who do not get along, suddenly without a border between them.  There's nothing terribly impressive to this book in terms of plot, although Alan Davis' art is always a treat, so it has that going for it.  Faiza is kind of a bland character, so it's disappointing not to see a flawed Brian or even his messed-up sister leading this book.  This is utterly middle-of-the-road and forgettable.

Grade: D

Civil War #1
Charles Soule and Leinil Yu

The Civil War has continued for six years, and peace talks are finally underway between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, who meet in neutral territory between the two sides.  Unfortunately, an assassination brings things to a head, and it seems that peace is no longer and option and things will come to a head.  I like that this takes place well into a prolonged Civil War, and I really like the set-up and surprise assassination.  A solid first issue, but it's a lot of set-up and far too light on action.

Grade: B-

E Is For Extinction #1
Chris Burham, Dennis Culver and Ramon Villalobos

Morrison and Quitely's beloved run on X-Men is revisited in this Battle World territory.  The creators do a good job of being true to that original vision, even if it does seem a little Morrison-light.  There are some appropriately twisted scenes, and it prominently features some of the odd characters that were introduced during the run, such as Beak and Angel.  This is a fun book, and competently recaptures the feeling of that era of X-Men comics, but don't expect a return to greatness.  After reading this issue, you're bound to forget it.

Grade: C+

Guardians of Knowhere #1
Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato

Great battles are the highlight of this title featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy (minus Star-Lord), which, I'm pleased to say, sees the Guardians back in Knowhere, the head of a celestial.  Angela is hunting down Gamora, who has taken unauthorized treks over the territory border.  Deodato's art is always fantastic, and it suits this title very well, making all of the characters seem pretty bad-ass, especially Angela.  This issue is just a lot of fun, and reminds us why these characters are so cool.

Grade: A-

Korvac Saga #1-2
Dan Abnett and Otto Schmidt

Lord Michael Korvac runs the Forest Hills realm of Battle World, which has a tense relationship with its neighbor, Lord Simon Williams.  When citizens of Forest Hills are turned into monsters and threatening the safety of others, Korvac turns to the original members of Guardians of the Galaxy to uncover what's behind these strange and dangerous transformations. It's nice to see the characters from Guardians 3000 get some love in Battle World, and a mystery a little fresher than we see in most of the other realms.

Grade: B+

Runaways #1-2
Noelle Stevenson and Sanford Greene

Brian K. Vaughan's originals Runaways series had a stellar hook: kids who run away when they realize their parents are supervillains.  This new book takes that initial premise and applies it to Battle World: students pulled from different territories around Battle World discover that the school they are at is evil.  The final exam, which is allegedly a danger room-type battle against generic baddies, where getting killed means you lose the exam and are kicked out of the school, is literally a battle to the death between students who have no idea that they are fighting fellow classmates.  In this regard, the first few issues are a little more Avengers Arena than Runaways, especially given the mish-mash lineup of young characters including Jubilee, Cloak, Dagger, Amadeus Cho, Pixie, Delphyne Gorgon, Skaar, and only one of the original Runaways, Molly.  But with the initial premise behind them, the whole "run away" part is about to occur, and it'll be interesting to see how far these students can get in Doom's world.

Grade: A

Siege #1
Kieron Gillen, Filipe Andrade and James Stokoe

Agent Brand is front-and-center in this Battle World title, which sees her working on the Shield, protecting the border of Battle World against hordes of aggressive zombies, Annihilation swarms and Ultron robots.  Should the Shield fall, as happened once before (leaving Brand an orphan herself), all is lost and thousands die.  Brand and her team can never defeat the monsters they face, but they can't afford to lose.  I love Brand, so seeing her in such a big role is great, especially with Kieron Gillen at the helm, who portrayed her so well in the short-lived S.W.O.R.D. series.  The panels can be a little disjointed and confusing at times, but for the most part, this is a fast-paced title that shows an important piece of the Battle World puzzle, where the stakes couldn't be any higher.

Grade: C+

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