Tag Archives: Secret Empire

Falcon

Despite Marc Guggenheim’s comical abuse of the term “legacy” in recent issues of X-Men: Gold, there are two other corners of the Marvel Universe that I fully expected the publisher to focus on in this new initiative. And, appropriately, in Week 2 of Marvel Legacy, the camera pans wide to take in the scarred landscape of Captain America and The Fantastic Four. There may be no character dealing with more trauma from Secret Empire than Sam Wilson, and Falcon #1, by Rodney Barnes and Joshua Cassara, is an especially poignant opener to a series that refuses to stand up for the anthem, as it were.

Sam has given up the shield and mantle of Captain America, and he’s back in costume as the Falcon, patrolling the streets of Chicago with the new Patriot, Rayshaun Lucas. Their first order of business is an attempt at dealing with a simmering gang war, but their real mission statement seems much broader, and far more daunting. Nick Spencer did a fine job reflecting the sociopolitical turmoil in this country in the pages of his two Cap books, and deserves commendation for persevering despite backlash from racist retailers and closed-minded readers (I mean, fer crissakes, this just happened last weekend). But now he passes the torch to Barnes, and he’s not holding back, or sweeping anything under the rug. “Legacy” may be the operative term, but Marvel’s recent editorial shifts to diversify its character base and shake up generations of white male super-icons is not only admirable, it’s imperative.

Steve Rogers has his own shit to figure out; that’s not Sam’s problem any longer. He does, however, have to deal with the fact that the most trusted human being on the planet just committed the biggest act of betrayal, and, right now, disillusionment with the superpowered set is at an all-time high. Especially when you’re dodging bullets in the South Side.

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Jack Kirby’s 100th

Comic shops around the country have been abuzz celebrating Jack Kirby’s centennial this week. The undisputed King of Comics would have turned 100 this past Monday, August 28th. For a guy as influential as Walt Disney or George Lucas, it’s a shame how few people recognize his name or appreciate his contributions to comics, entertainment, and popular culture. Despite a #doodleforjack campaign, Google didn’t get it together in time to enlighten the masses with some Kirby crackle or dream machinery (we, did however, learn a little bit more about James Wong Howe on the 118th anniversary of the cinematographer’s birth).

But we know how important Kirby is, and each and every Idler, just like every one of you reading this blog, has his or her own favorite Kirby creation or a story about discovering his genius for the first time. And it’s up to us to spread the word. Take a friend to the comic shop this week, and act as a docent through the living museum of Kirby’s 2017 impact. Several one-shot specials are being released this month by DC and, this week from Mark Evanier and Scott Kolins, is the Darkseid Special. Be sure to point out the fact that the Justice League movie coming out in a few months looks to feature one of Jack’s most inventive concepts, as well as the Lord of Apokolips, one of the most insidious villains in comics. This oversized special also has a new OMAC story, and two classic Kirby reprints. And for more Fourth World fun, you could also pass along the new Black Racer and Shilo Norman special, by Reginald Hudlin and Ryan Benjamin, which also contains some great Kirby originals.

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Secret Empire #9

The penultimate chapter of Nick Spencer’s Secret Empire hits stands this week, and, as one would expect this close to a climactic final confrontation with Captain Hydra, the action ramps up at a frenetic pace. This has been one of Marvel’s most entertaining and original event books since House of M, and, as with the alternate reality of Bendis’s series, when the architecture of Steve Rogers’s empire starts to fail, it doesn’t take long for the structure to come crashing down. Across the board, the heroes have been tallying victories: the Darkforce dome sealing off Manhattan is down, as is the planetary defense shield that had stranded the other heavy hitters in the stratosphere. The Underground has rallied, and New Tian is in open revolt. Corrupted superheroes like Vision and Scarlet Witch are on the verge of restoration, and presumed defeated combatants Winter Soldier and Black Panther make dramatic returns to the battlefield. And, perhaps most importantly, the haze of mead and self-deprecation that had been clouding the mind of Odinson, AKA The Unworthy Thor, finally seems to have cleared. There’s a “BOOM” that translates roughly to, “The Hel was I thinking?!”

Hope you haven’t experienced mega-super-battle fatigue yet. Because this issue has a pretty fun romp. And despite all the momentum gathering on the side of the heroes, Steve has one major play left in his bag of tricks, and it involves Arnim Zola, some Stark technology, and an impressive handful of cosmic cube fragments. It all figures to play out in an even bigger mega-super-crazy series finale.

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Champions and the Secret Empire Tie-Ins

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.

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Secret Empire

Marvel has never shied away from political commentary in its comics, or in its other media offerings, it seems. Did everyone catch Hydra second-in-command Fitz on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last week, telling a conference room of fascist operatives to get out there and “make our society great again”? And even if Ms. Marvel couldn’t get Clinton elected, and the company has problems keeping closed-minded agendas out of the very comics that speak to acceptance, the effort has always been there, and, in recent years, creators have been encouraged to address social concerns more than ever before. Regardless, Marvel probably didn’t anticipate the controversy or severe reader backlash after Nick Spencer dropped that bomb in the pages of Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 last year.

Out of context it does sound pretty crazy. Captain America, bastion of freedom and liberty, literally covered in the g-d American flag, reveals that he’s actually been a Hydra sleeper agent all these many years, working to subvert the U.S. from the inside. This is the same Hydra that, depending on your comic book history source, had direct affiliation with the Nazis. So yeah, that seemed bad. But obviously the guy is telling a story, and Nick Spencer, as demonstrated by his work in the Sam Wilson series, is as socially conscious and politically savvy as they come. Let the book run its course, people!

The course has included Red Skull machinations, a sentient cosmic cube named Kobik, and one terribly ominous Ulysses prophecy. It’s been a wild ride thus far. And in this week’s kickoff to Marvel’s major summer event, Secret Empire #0, by Spencer, Rod Reis, and Daniel Acuña, things get even wilder.

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