We’re pretty familiar with the routine at this point. Marvel’s big summer event simmers with lead-in stories and “road to” developments before kicking off with a Free Comic Book Day prologue. Then we hit the main event, and queue up the requisite mini-series, including the anthology book with short stories from a variety of up-and-coming creators. And, of course, the tie-ins. Everyone has a tie-in. Occasionally these crossovers enhance the main storyline, and in some cases they’re downright essential. It’s increasingly problematic, in fact, that more and more of these comic book events are inscrutable in their own right and require following a good portion of the ancillary material. Sometimes the connection is tangential, but the plot trigger results in a decent one-shot or two-part tie-in. More often than not, however, it just seems like Marvel’s cheap way of selling more copies of their books.
And every once in a while Marvel gives us a stellar event book, and they tie it in with a great monthly series (that we should all be reading anyway). I’m hoping that Champions #10, out this week, didn’t need the Secret Empire banner to help boost its sales, but whatever the case, Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos took advantage of the opportunity to spin a worthy companion tale.
In Captain Hydra’s new America, Inhumans are being rounded up and sequestered in maximum security internment camps. When Ms. Marvel goes radio silent, her teammates fear for the worst, and stage a breakout at one such facility in New Mexico. What follows is an intriguing look at what happens when youthful idealism clashes with the more complex realities of incarceration.
One of the elements of Secret Empire that has made it so compelling, is how frighteningly real all of these developments seem to be. Now, I’m not talking about covering Earth in an impenetrable forcefield or unleashing the Darkforce dimension on the island of Manhattan; but when a fascist state can erupt from the insidious machinations of a few puppetmasters, and use latent fear, distrust, and narrow-mindedness to take root, it all doesn’t seem that far-fetched, does it? And one of the hallmarks of Waid and Ramos’s Champions run, thus far, has been a spotlight on the evolutionary stages of a superteam – full of the best intentions, but positively naive to the way of the world. This new issue, with its Secret Empire connection, fits in nicely with those growing pains.
While we’re on the subject of Marvel event blueprints, there’s one more important piece to consider: The Aftermath. We’ll get the epilogue crossovers and one-shots, of course, but, more importantly, we’ll get the fresh start publishing initiative, come October, with the added promise that nothing will be the same. In this month’s Marvel Previews, they literally use those exact words to tease this year’s season-opening salvo: Legacy, a one-shot by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic.
Cliche or not, this looks pretty cool.