Marvel’s big event is getting rolling in full force this week as we get a slew of Secret Wars tie-in issues. It just is not a big event if a comic book publisher does not attempt to drown the reader in endless tie-in issues. One of the main support titles for Secret Wars is Battleworld. This title should provide an opportunity for the reader to get a better flavor for the different Kingdoms that comprise Battleworld as well as deliver some quality action. I expect to see some of the ancillary battles between the various characters and Kingdoms play out in the pages of Battlefield as a supplement to the main conflict taking place in Secret Wars. All right, let’s hit this review for Secret Wars: Battleworld #1!
Words: Joshua Williamson
Art: Mike Henderson
Colors: Jordan Boyd
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Words: Ed Brisson
Art: Scott Hepburn
Colors: Matt Milla
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The first story is entitled “Soldier Supreme.” We begin with the story being narrated by the Punisher as an entry to his “Battleworld Journal.” Punisher is in the Kingdom of Marvel 2099. Punisher is wearing his regular costume with Dr. Strange’s cloak on over it. (I think we shall call him Dr. Punisher from here on out.) We learn that Infernal Four have been tracking the Punisher across all of the different Kingdoms for as long as he can remember. We also learn that during a battle between some zombies and the Punisher and Dr. Strange that Dr. Strangeattached his soul to Punisher’s body just as Dr. Strange’s own physical body was about to die. Dr. Strange’s astral body hovers above Punisher and talks to him about their plan to try to evade the Infernal Four.
Suddenly, the Infernal Four appear on the scene. The Four is composed of Wolverine, The Hulk, Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. The Hulk attacks Dr. Punisher. Wolverine says that the Punisher is under arrest for crossing borders illegally. That Sheriff Strange wants Punisher delivered alive to the High Court of Doom. Dr. Punisher says he is going to go out in a blaze of glory. Dr. Punisher whips out a couple of magical guns and pumps Spider-Man full of magical bullets and kills him.
The Hulk attacks and Dr. Punisher says “Calm” and the Hulk transforms into Banner. Dr. Punisher then says “Dust” and Banner turns into dust and blows away in the wind. Ghost Rider then attacks and Dr. Punisher says “Ice.” Ghost Rider becomes frozen. Then Dr. Punisher says “Rockets of Raggodorr!” (Best line of the issue!) The Punisher uses his magical bazooka to blow Ghost Rider into pieces.
Suddenly, Wolverine stages a sneak attack from behind and stabs Dr. Punisher in the chest. Dr. Strange tells Punisher to let him heal the Punisher’s body. Strange tells Punisher to repeat the words of the healing spell. Punisher refuses and says that he would rather die on his own two feet right now than be taken to the Shield where he will die in the deadlands. Dr. Punisher then says “Weapon of Watoomb!” A magical hand grenade appears in Dr. Punisher’s hand. Dr. Punisher pulls the pin and causes a massive explosion that creates a huge crater in the ground.
We cut to later with Wolverine placing part of Punisher’s costume on Sheriff Strange’s desk. Sheriff Strange is pissed that Wolverine did not bring the Punisher back alive. Wolverine says that the Punisher wanted to go out on his own terms. Wolverine say that he respects the Punisher for that desire. Sheriff Strange tells Wolverine to return to Limbo and send a message of thanks to Baron Summers and that Sheriff Strange owes Summers for the loss of the Hulk, Ghost Rider and Spider-Man.
Wolverine asks why Sheriff Strange was interested in the Punisher. Wolverine asks why Sheriff Strange sent the Infernal Four after the Punisher instead of the Thor Corps. Sheriff Strange ignores the questions and replies “Goodbye, Wolverine.” Wolverine walks out of the Castle Doom and we see that the astral body of Dr. Strange has now attached himself to Wolverine’s body. We see some of the members of the Thor Corps as Wolverine leaves the castle. (Ha! One of the Thors is the Destroyer. And another Thor is a monkey. Perfect.)
Dr. Strange says that Wolverine’s immortal body will be the perfect vessel. That Dr. Strange will now live to fight forever. Dr. Strange says that if Wolverine tries to resist him then Dr. Strange will make Wolverine’s life a living hell. Wolverine retorts “You want to know about Hell…? Wait until you get home to Inferno.” End of story.
The second story is entitled M.O.D.O.K. Madness. We start in MODOK’s secret AIM laboratory located in The Warzone in the Kingdom of The Iron. MODOK has decided that he is done with the incompetent minions in AIM. MODOK says that his brilliant plans only fail because of his incompetent minions. MODOK has figured that the only way for his plans to succeed then he must summon various different MODOK’s from around the Multiverse.
MODOK has his AIM minions fire up his new teleportation device. Suddenly, we see around ten different MODOK’s appear on the scene. One of them is a baby MODOK who immediately exclaims “Daddy” upon seeing MODOK. MODOK explains his plans to the assembled MODOKS from the Multiverse. MODOK says that once they help him carry out his plans to overthrow Doom and take over Battleworld then MODOK will be the Supreme Lord of Battleworld and the MODOKS from the Multiverse will be made Baron’s of their respective Kingdoms.
An older MODOK says that MODOK is a fool. That Old MODOK has the benefit of experience and having worked with SHIELD. MODOK is horrified that the older version of him would ever work for SHIELD. Old MODOK says SHIELD are his friends and allies. A MODOK who has evolved into a humanoid robot says that he is the most evolved of all the assembled MODOK’s present. That he was designed to do simple tasks like walk through standard doorways.
Old School MODOK (Looks like an 18th century MODOK based on his old tech) says that he would like to know how MODOK captured fire inside of glass in order to illuminate the lab. MODOK screams for everyone to shut up. Baby MODOCK then yells “Kill them, Daddy!” Baby MODOK says that MODOK should kill the others and then MODOK and Baby MODOK can rule Battleworld together.
MODOK screams “Which one of you imbeciles sired this abomination? MODOK is a leader not a breeder!” (Best. Tagline. Ever.) MODOK realizes that his plan of using MODOK’s from the Multiverse was fraught with error. MODOK orders his AIM minions to send the various MODOK’s back to their respective universes. Baby MODOK then blasts the AIM minions. Baby MODOK yells that nobody is going anywhere until she gets some quality daughter/father time!
The MODOK’s start attacking each other. During the huge brawl, Baby MODOK screams “It’s time to deal with my daddy issues” and starts blasting all of the MODOK’s.
We zip forward to “later.” We see two Thors arriving at MODOK’s lab. They are here to arrest MODOK. They walk into the lab and see the carnage from the fight between the MODOK’s. MODOK then tells the Thor Corps that he gives up. MODOK asks the Thors to put him out of his misery and to “spare me from myself.” End of issue.
The Good: Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 was a blast to read. This was great popcorn for the brain. All I wanted from a support title like Battleworld is to provide me with some quality action, a bit more insight to the smaller details of the setting and a spotlight placed upon some of the minor characters. That is exactly what we got with Secret Wars: Battleworld #1. I also love the idea to break the issue up into two short stories. That keeps the issue compressed and allows for more panel time of minor characters in this big event. It also allows for different flavored stories in the same issue. Variety is always appreciated.
The first story was kick-ass. Williamson serves up a satisfying helping of action. Dr. Punisher was badass. I loved the creative use of Dr. Strange’s powers by the Punisher. This was such a cool concept. It made the action scene that much more entertaining.
Now, don’t think that because this Punisher story was heavy on action that it is a one-dimensional read. Not so. This story was a balanced read with just as much quality character work and dialogue as there was action. Dr. Strange, Punisher and Wolverine were all well written. However, it was Punisher who stole the show. Williamson properly captured a war-weary Punisher who might be tired but still had enough “piss and vinegar” to put up one hellacious fight. This short story was a fine example of why I love the Punisher’s character and how cool he can be when properly written.
The dialogue was perfect. The Punisher spoke in a terse fashion using only an economy of words. Wolverine, while more loquacious than the Punisher, had his patented gruff tone. Dr. Strange’s dialogue was delivered in a more formal and verbose fashion which served to contrast his more cerebral character with those of the Punisher and Wolverine. Williamson deserves a ton of credit for being able to craft unique voices for all three characters in such a short story.
The strong dialogue helped to create well-developed personalities for these three characters and created some strong chemistry between them as well. The Punisher and Dr. Strange were the perfect odd couple. I liked how their personalities played off on each other. And Wolverine and Dr. Strange make for an interesting pairing as Wolverine is an unwilling host. This should lead to some interesting moments later on in Secret Wars.
Williamson puts together a pleasantly paced and plotted story. The short story moves at a quick pace and with a clear purpose in mind. There are no wasted panels at all in this story. I love that Williamson seems to understand the seemingly lost art of telling a compressed story. And this short story ends with a great hook and leaves the reader wondering what Dr. Strange is going to do next in his fight against Doom.
Henderson whips up some solid artwork. It is not my favorite still of art, but it is well done and matches the tone of the story perfectly. Henderson’s art reminds me of John Romita, JR style artwork. And that can be polarizing so your mileage may vary with the art in this story. I enjoyed the colors in this issue. Boyd did a fine job making this issue look good while still keeping a generally dark palette to match the story’s tone.
The second story was hilarious! I loved this MODOK story. MODOK is a funny character that works best when delivered with a humorous bent. This short story had me chuckling from start to finish. Brisson writes some wonderfully humorous dialogue. This short story was full of zingers and great banter between the different MODOK’s. Seriously, the story was full of some great lines from start to finish.
I loved all the different versions of MODOK. Brisson got creative in dreaming up these different versions. My favorite? Baby MODOK, of course! This story was well paced and plotted. Brisson delivers a compressed read. Imagine that! Two compressed stories in one issue! Shocking! This story moves at a wonderful pace and with a purpose in mind. This second story, much like the first, does not have any wasted panels.
Hepburn’s artwork is the perfect match for Brisson’s wacky story. Hepburn’s are has nice clean lines and a solid eye for detail. Hepburn is able to provide for some great facial expressions in order to compliment Hepburn’s humor. Milla’s colors in this story were fantastic. They were bright and popped off the page. The strong colors complimented the tone of this story.
I wish I had more to say. Honestly, this was a fun and zany story. Pure and simple. This story is a shining example of how it is OK for comics to be funny and silly! Not everything needs to be dark, brooding and grim. You just have to read it to appreciate the great back and forth banter between the various MODOK’s and the general silliness of the entire plot.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.
Overall: Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 far exceeded my expectations. Normally, support titles like Battleworld tend to be weak or simply cheap cash grabs by the publisher. Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 actually provided me with some quality entertainment and gave me further insight into the setting of Secret Wars and what some of the more minor characters are up to during this big event. I really could not ask for much more than what I got with this issue. I also loved the nice contrast in this issue between the heavy and dark first story with the much lighter and humorous second story. This approach gave this issue nice variety in themes. There really was something for everyone in this issue.