Marvel’s Secret Empire Review

Well – Marvels latest event story Secret Empire: written by Nic Spencer has come, and gone, and left me utterly disappointed.

I’m not going to get into the politics or cultural implications of this story, partly because I just don’t have to time to get worked up about it. But at the end of the day, Secret Empire undelivered for me.

What makes Secret Empire frustrating is that it started out so well, and even as recently as two issues ago still showed signs that it would ultimately live up to its promise.

To recap for those that don’t know what this event was all about- Captain America, secretly a true believer in the cause of Hydra, has turned his back on the Super Hero community. Using the trust and respect he has gained over the years he has ascended to a position where he can enact Hydra’s ideals. The death of Jack Flag, the trial of Maria Hill, the second Civil War, the alien Chitauri Queen. All of the domino’s of Captain America’s plan have been laid out — and it will take only the slightest push to set them into action! 

While some got fired up about Cap- I was somewhat intrigued with the idea and premise. What if your greatest ally was secretly your greatest enemy? 

I think this story had so much potential. The ability to show that heroes can fall. That evil can influence and even manipulate the minds of those we look to for hope and follow. I longed for the redemptive story where Steve Rogers would be woken from this mind control caused by a cosmic cube and rise to be the hero we needed… But no, what I got was a confusing mess and a mediocre climax.

In the end the memory of the real Steve Rogers we all love and adore is pulled out of this cosmic cube to fight the evil Hydra Steve in a fight that under-delivers and feels, Cheap. Leaving us with even more questions than answers. Which is the real Steve? The memory, or the Hydra version.

All things aside (Including Spencer’s personal political agenda which is evident) the world building on this story was incredible. And I appreciate how much work has been put into building this story from the beginning. But issue after issue I got character reactions to what was happening and little driven story. This thing could have been told in about half of the issues it was. But hey, it’s Marvel, and they continue to find ways to sink their ship with event stories that leave us disappointed and confused.

I think it’s time to get back to the basic of comic books- At least in my mind. Basic character stories of heroes rising up to fight evil. But hey- I’ve only been reading comics for 30 years- What do I know.

Batman: The War of Jokes & Riddles Review

Tom King has been hit and miss lately for me, but the first chapter to The War of Jokes and Riddles has me becoming a believer. After reading this I think it is evident that King wants readers to never look at The Joker and The Riddler the same way again.

Over the years I’ve felt that both the Joker and the Riddler threat got somewhat watered down- But King is driving to ensure they are viewed as psychotic unpredictable wild cards.

The riddles are cold and to the point, somewhat matter of fact.

And Joker is even more horrifying. Writing the Joker with a stone-faced that kills off random people seemingly now declaring himself the judge of what’s funny.

Janin art is solid with simple arrangement and layouts, but it’s his framing that makes these pages intriguing. The character positioning is what makes his pages stand out.

You rarely see Riddler and Joker in full view, typically just peering out from a darkened environment or the brim of their hat.

Janin’s decisions make two already twisted characters into terrifying antagonist.

For 80% of the issue- Batman is absent. But his absence gives us detail into why the Riddler and Joker go to war.

Great issue and strong start to a new arc I’m sure will leave me wanting more.