(Editor’s Note: Initially, we were going to include issue 9 of Secret Empire in this review, but since the final issue is releasing this week, I decided to do one article dedicated completely to that. Look for that one Friday or Saturday.)
Edge of Venomverse
The Good: I already covered #2 and #4 in my last review. Honestly, though, they remain the only good thing about this series with #1 as an uneven honorable mention depending on your opinion of X-23.
The Bad: I was worried about this issue. The uneven pacing of the series saw a pattern of meh, decent, ugh, good bordering on great, and then finished with meh again. While not as bad as #3 (honestly the worst comic I’ve read in a long time), I just don’t like the traditional character of Deadpool.
The Ugly: Maybe my mistake, but I read this book while eating breakfast. The graphic depiction of parasitic monsters being surgically implanted into people and then cut to pieces, smashed to bits, and squished almost made me physically sick. Even thinking about it now is making me a bit ill. Perhaps only my overactive imagination and a recently developed weak stomach are to blame. Still gross.
The verdict: After a great issue #4, I was looking forward to the main Venomverse event. After this let down of an issue, that excitement is tempered some. I will still give it a chance, but it won’t be at the top of my list. Hey, I’ve been proven wrong before.
The Good: I’ve often said that “less is more” when it comes to Deadpool. The character always has been parody, but it reached that rarefied air of being a parody of a parody. The current book is none of that. There are still the core principles that make the character Deadpool. However, they are balanced to make him more human. I know that’s not what Deadpool fans want, but I like the multi dimensional aspect of the character.
The Bad: While this arc has been both entertaining and fun, it has been absolutely heartbreaking at times. His decision to kill Coulson, the result of manipulation by Captain Hydra, has caused a domino effect that has led to the loss of almost everything that tethered him to this new Deadpool personality. I can see the writing on the wall. Speaking of…
The Ugly: Rejoice, traditional Deadpool fans! I’m only going by title, cover, and description, but it sounds like he is goint to be back in full force for Legacy. Prepare your butts for off color jokes, ultraviolence, gratuitous nudity, and breaking that fourth wall. Fun! *sigh*
The Good: It has been fun to watch Stephen Strange and Wilson Fisk essentially switch bodies freaky Friday style. Dr. Strange got evicted from the Sanctum and lost his magic ability. Forced to accept the help of Kingpin, who was taken over by a demon and imbued with magic, the two work together to try to lift the Darkforce dome from New York along with a rag tag group of B-listers. It is a silly premise that paid off in a big way. This was one of the consistently fun books during Secret Empire.
The Bad: They still hadn’t lifted the dome by the end of this issue. While some of the other books, including the main title, have started to turn the corner from “despair” to “hope”, winning the battle, but seemingly no closer to winning the war. Oh well, there’s always hope. It looked for a while like the space heroes would never break the bubble and they finally did.
The Ugly: Nothing. Literally nothing. As I said earlier, this has been one of the most consistently fun books from the whole of Secret Empire. I hope they can keep up the momentum into Legacy.
The Verdict: Dr. Strange has always been one of my favorite heroes and books. While many considered his movie to be filler, I knew better. If they are going to do a Thanos and Infinity Gauntlet/War event in the cinematic universe, they have to include Strange in that story. However, I didn’t know how they’d include Strange in the events of Secret Empire, but I’m glad they did. It reminded me what I liked about the title. I know that I’ve talked some about dropping titles, but this is one that I’m going to be collecting for the long haul.
Weapons of Mutant Destruction
The Good: I may have already mentioned in my previoius Marvel review that Greg Pak is one of my favorite Hulk writers. I was not a huge fan of his Hulk: Generations, but I understand the reasons behind the book. Since this book has revolved around Totally Awesome Hulk, he has been able to explore the “softer” side of the Hulk. It has been especially fun to watch that butt heads with the likes of Logan, Sabertooth, Domino, and Deathstrike.
The Bad: While the characters were well fleshed out and their interactions fully realized, the story didn’t quite live up to the expectations. I know it’s becoming a cliche that I follow criticism with the caveat, “It isn’t bad”, but it really wasn’t a bad story. I just thought that a story revolving around a “Wolverhulk” created by a secret government organization would have more action.
The Ugly: Aside from the slow pacing and massive set up for not much of a pay off in the event itself, some of the failed experiments in the Weapon X attempts to make the “Hulkarine” were the ugliest thing about this series.
The Verdict: I usually don’t like the “Hulk Smash” version of Hulk and prefer the Hulks that are more introspective. Also, I’ve been on board with most of the reimagined heroes that Marvel gave us. However, I initially didn’t like the idea of Amadeus Cho becoming Hulk. I think it was mainly the title that turned me off. This book, series, and, to an extent, the Generations book has changed my mind. The Cho Hulk has both the intelligence of Banner and the struggle of Hulk in a new and refreshing way.
The Good: These books continue to get better and better. After a slightly uninspired Hulk book and a very good Jean Grey book, the Wolverine book was amazing. The Thor book was slightly less so, but it still had some good moments. Marvel got a bit of a dig in on those who were screaming about a female Thor, the Odinson had some other great one liners as a meathead “teenager” Viking without much direction or worthiness, and I can’t wait to see how his story progresses. The Wolverine book showed the relationship between the two characters evolve in a very real and touching way. Seeing Wolverine show tenderness as he slowly worked through the mystery was fun to read.
The Bad: I know that characters don’t stay dead in comic books or soap operas, but I’m just getting to know some of these characters and it has been strongly hinted, if not outright stated, that several of them won’t survive the Legacy switch. Female Thor and X-23 are both characters that I’m just meeting and they’ve made a good first impression. At least one of them is rumored not to make it.
The Ugly: The silly grin on my face as I read these two books wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t exactly flattering. These books are bringing up fond memories of being a teenager and reading comic books simply for the joy of it. Consequently, and not surprisingly, they are reminding me why I like comics, cementing my interest in the books again, and driving me to buy more. None of this is ugly except, as I said last time, to my budget.
The Verdict: Unlike some of the other events/series that Marvel has produced recently, this one has consistently gotten better with each book. The Hulk book was not bad, but it wasn’t my favorite style of Hulk writing. The Jean Grey book illustrated a flash point in that characters history. The Wolverine book dealt with the sometimes complicated relationship between parents and children. Thor dealt very nicely with some of the elephants in the room as a result of changing heroes and angry nerds not able to deal with the changes. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the books do, how it all joins in with Legacy, and what fun awaits us on the other side.