Secret Wars Battle Report, Week Fourteen


Welcome back to the Battle Report! Thirteen tie-in books, just about double what we read last week, fight for attention, and Bam Smack Pow will help discerning readers pick the books most likely to tie-in to the main story or best represent the highest quality of the extra miniseries.

X-Men ’92 #6 (Digital First)

What happened:  Storm, Cyclops, and Jean Grey escape Cassandra Nova’s psychic prison and take on brainwashed versions of Gambit, Rogue, and Wolverine. Meanwhile, Psylocke and Professor X try to talk some sense into Baron Kelly until an enormous eight-headed Sentinel attacks them.

Was it good: Yes. This series is quick, fun, and clever.

Is it necessary: Not to the crossover, but X-fans really should be reading this.

Should you buy it: Yes. And buy the digital version, don’t wait for the printed collection.

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #3

What happened:  Spider-Man comes out of hiding to fight Regent once the villain closes in on his daughter, but it’s a trap, and Peter’s wife and child are kidnapped. He’s back in the black suit, meaning his takedowns of small-time villains are laced with a frightening escalation of violence.

Was it good: It was terrific, nearly Pick Of The Week. Parker putting the suit on was done in a scene that puled my heart into my throat, Peter risking it all because his little girl “deserves to live in a world of heroes,” and on getting his family’s support, labeling “my whole life, whatever happens next, this moment here was everything.” Dan Slott is amazing.

Is it necessary: No.

Should you buy it: Yes. It is definitely the best Spider-Man title of the crossover and is up in the top tier of the tie-in books, pretty much second only to Thors. This is one of the best explorations of Peter Parker we’ve seen in years.


Spider-Island #2

What happened:  Venom and his team recruit Iron Man to their side and launch an attack on the Spider Queen’s labs, where they find Peter Parker in suspended animation.

Was it good: Yes. The playful monster transformations of classic Marvel characters (this time turning Tony Stark into a Goblin) has been a hoot.

Is it necessary: No.

Should you buy it: It’s not good enough to represent Spider-Man in the top tier (that’s what Renew Your Vows is for), but it’s better than Spider-Verse.


Red Skull #2

What happened:  Red Skull does a Hannibal Lecter impression and manipulates his way into Magneto’s head, convincing the mutant supervillain to join an alliance with Annihilus to send an army of bugs against the Shield wall.

Was it good: Oh, yes. This is a very scary comic for more than just zombies and monster bugs.

Is it necessary: No, at this point we have threats to the Shield in Siege, Age Of Ultron, and Marvel Zombies with little in common, so I doubt any of the attacks will succeed enough to show up in Secret Wars.

Should you buy it: Not at first, but put it on the short list for your extra summer cash. Maybe mow a lawn or something and come back to the store.


Age Of Apocalypse #2

What happened:  Doug Ramsey watches a bunch of mutants fighting and narrates it with some of the most awful prose since the 90’s. A big deal is made that Ramsey is reading body language but that tends to translate to “When he makes a threat, he means it.” Sabretooth is doing some detective work in the background.

Was it good: No. The ideas are good, and it’s great to see Blink back in action, but this has become a soupy mess in just two issues. It’s not continuing any of the stories we loved from the original crossover, and we don’t have enough context without that to care about the dozens of characters and plot points and shouty word balloons.

Is it necessary: Nope. The appearance in that one issue of Old Man Logan is a better fix for your craving.

Should you buy it: Not anymore.


Civil War #2

What happened:  Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are sure someone has set them up with that assassination during their peace talks last issue, but their attempts to learn more just make each side more distrustful.

Was it good: Yes, it’s ramping the tension up nicely.

Is it necessary: No.

Should you buy it: No, it’s pretty safely in the lower-middle of the pack.


Giant-Size Little Marvel: AVX #3

What happened:  The kids in the Avengers and the X-Men take turns trying to impress the new twins in town with their awesome treehouses.

Was it good: It’s adorable, silly fun.

Is it necessary: Umm, it mentions tie-ins like Planet Hulk and 1872 in the opening theme song. And it has an opening theme song. But I’d hardly call this cartoon necessary.

Should you buy it: If I recommended any humor book, it would be this one, but I just don’t think it should be bought at the expense of, say, Captain Marvel.


Infinity Gauntlet #3

What happened:  Thanos goes back in time using the Time Stone, and it turns out he’s been making temporal loops trying new ways to acquire all the Stones for his Gauntlet. In this attempt, we see his side of the events in issue one, and he swallows his pride to fake like he’s joining the Nova Corps and the Guardians of the Galaxy (including a new version of Groot!) on the hunt for Stones.

Was it good: Gosh, this series gets better and better each issue. This issue was so scary and taut.

Is it necessary: Star-Lord is the tie-in with a tighter connection to the main series, but Marvel Cosmic fans are going to find so much to love about this one.

Should you buy it: Not required reading for general audiences, but if you like space stories, this is a great read.


Siege #2

What happened:  When Leah leaves the wall to find her girlfriend, Magik, Abigail Brand considers trusting Kang or even the robot Units to put off the wave of attacks that will destroy the Shield in a few days.

Was it good: Yes, it’s gloomy in a good way, and the double-page spreads of previous sieges from zombies, bug monsters, and robots are a lovely way to showcase diverse artistic talent. And there’s a joke that references Image’s beloved book, Saga, which is always appreciated.

Is it necessary: No more so than any of the other books about the Shield and the wilderness below it.

Should you buy it: No, Marvel Zombies is a good enough representative of this corner of Battleworld.


Ultimate End #4

What happened:  The Punisher is shooting a bunch of heroes while both versions of Tony Stark and the Ultimate Bruce Banner try to figure out how to work the Dimensional Rift.

Was it good: No, it’s falling apart, and even the wonderful Bendis dialogue can’t hide that the plot doesn’t connect to the continuity of Secret Wars.

Is it necessary: Umm, in the last page, Miles Morales shows up on the main 616 Earth. But until Secret Wars is over, we don’t know if this is the official way he gets to us.

Should you buy it: Not anymore. There’s only one issue left, and I don’t imagine that book is going to untwist the continuity confusion that has plagued this title. Rest in peace, Ultimate Universe.


Guardians Of Knowhere #2

What happened:  We get the origin of Yotat, a tough guy who really wants to kill Drax.

Was it good: Nope. The curious agnosticism of Gamora that almost redeemed last issue? Not even mentioned here. We spent half an issue of one of Marvel’s most famous teams on the dull history of a character with a funny name who is unlikely to even show up after the crossover closes.

Is it necessary: I wish it didn’t exist. Secret Wars probably thinks it doesn’t.

Should you buy it: No. You should not buy this. You should read anything else this week. You should call your parents and maybe volunteer at an animal shelter or clean out your Inbox but in no way should your time this week be spent reading this book.


Future Imperfect #4

What happened:  The Maestro and Thunderbolt Ross bust up a tavern looking for Ulik the Troll and by extension, the Destroyer armor, so they can commit Deicide on Doom. At the end, they find The Ancient One, and it’s hard to tell by the art clues, but it might be a future version of the Maestro.

Was it good: No, it wasn’t. The dialogue works, but the action feels slight, and the characters just aren’t engaging. Peter David is an amazing writer, but this is not a good showcase.

Is it necessary: No, my guess is that a plot in a tie-in to kill the main character of the summer’s series is probably not headed for success.

Should you buy it: No, I don’t think you should.


Ms. Marvel #17 (Last Days)

What happened:  Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers team up to rescue Kamala’s brother as the Incursion happens across the river from Jersey City.

Was it good: It was amazing, probably the best issue of this book so far. Kamala’s courage is balanced well with her youth, such as when she wants to give a speech to Captain Marvel but ends up crying and hugging her and screaming, “Everything sucks except for you!” The scene where Captain Marvel has to tell Kamala that if she wants to save a roomful of abandoned kittens, she’ll have to give up looking for her brother? And Kamala hugs a cat and whispers, “It hurts so m-much…”? And Carol says, “I know, kiddo. I know”? I am wiping tears off my keyboard right now.

Is it necessary: As we have learned, Last Days tie-ins are not necessary, and the only one that applied outside the confines of its host title was Mighty Avengers. But this book is everything a tie-in should be. We get to see the way a hero faces the end of the world. We’re inspired. We’re heartbroken. We’re hoping against the inevitable – the world already ended thirteen weeks ago, but we refuse to believe it’s going to hit Ms. Marvel. This book teaches us more about humanity and duty and love than anything else printed this week.

Should you buy it: Yes. I change my stance on the Last Days stuff. Go to the store, get the tie-ins with Ms. Marvel. And if you can, get all of Ms. Marvel because it is freaking great.

Essential Reading:

Really, just Secret Wars. Well done, Marvel.

Recommended Tie-ins:

A-ForceCaptain Marvel And The Carol CorpsThorsSecret Wars Journal, Old Man Logan, X-Men ’92 (digital version), InfernoAmazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Star-Lord & Kitty Pryde, Ms. Marvel (Last Days), and Marvel Zombies, with Inhumans: Attilan Rising on the bubble.

Good Books That Just Don’t Make Top-Tier:

Captain Britain And The Mighty Defenders, Siege, Spider Island, Runaways, Squadron Sinister, Civil War, Master Of Kung Fu, Ghost Racers, 1872, Spider-Verse, Secret Wars 2099, Giant-Size Little Marvel: AVX, M.O.D.O.K. Assassin, Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, X-Tinction Agenda, Red Skull, Secret Wars: Battleworld, Korvac Saga, Where Monsters Dwell, Infinity Gauntlet, Age Of Ultron Vs. Marvel Zombies, X-Men ’92 (print version), 1602 Witch Hunter Angela, and Weirdworld

Books To Skip:

Guardians Of Knowhere, Hail Hydra, Armor Wars, Mrs. Deadpool And The Howling Commandos, Future Imperfect, Years Of Future Past, E Is For Extinction, Planet Hulk, Age Of Apocalypse, Ultimate End, and any of the Last Days titles you weren’t already reading.

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