Secret War #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Gabriele Dell’Otto
remember having a conversation with a former Incredible
Hulk assistant editor about a year ago. He’d
been cruising the online forums and nearly tossed his laptop
out the window after getting lectured by a bunch of teenagers
that Secret Wars was an indisputable classic.
let’s face it, it wasn’t.
be told, I can hardly even remember what happened in that
thing (A bunch of Marvel heroes got zapped to an alien world
and had big fights, right? Oh, and Spidey got the black
outfit.), but, as my editor friend so succinctly put it,
“Bad story, bad art, bad dialogue, just… BAD”.
it to Bendis to bring dignity to such a sullied name.
didn’t catch the first issue or the recently released
commemorative edition (commemorating the first time Marvel’s
needed to reprint an issue so quickly in recent years),
the story is almost a complete one-eighty from the original
Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. have managed to find a link between
all the low-rent supervillains who rely on gadgetry and
armor and… (wait for it) Latveria. Since it’s
a foreign nation supplying these men, they more readily
fit under the definition of terrorists than criminals. However,
the president brushes off Fury’s request to fight
back in this secret war (tee hee) and mumbles that they’ll
stick with diplomatic channels since they’re friends
with the leader of the nation.
later, Luke Cage is attacked by a mysterious woman and left
hospitalized in critical condition. And Fury knows why.
issue returns us to the year before the attack on Cage.
Nick assembles, cajoles, and blackmails Captain America,
Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and a mysterious
woman (same one, perhaps) into hopping a jet to Latveria.
They meet up with Black Widow at the airport and shuffle
off to a remote location where Fury reveals his master plan…
as you might have guessed, Bendis’ story is, again,
more about character and dialogue exchange than giant plotlines.
His contributions to this story are easily as good as much
of his recent Daredevil work, though, and there’s
a constant tension lacing the scenes. It’s pretty
hard to read this and not want to find out what happens
I find more interesting are the parallels between the book
and our own recent history. Make no mistake; Bendis isn’t
out to give us another bloated crossover or team-up book.
This is a rumination on terrorism, espionage, covert operations,
heroism, and morality. This is a story about 9/11, Iraq,
Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and George W. Bush.
to think all those fanboys thought they were just buying
another book with Wolvie on the cover! Bendis’ Wolvie
is so far removed from the dour berserker we’re usually
saddled with, I couldn’t help but grin. Drunken and
womanizing? Sure, but ain’t he fun?
star of this series, however, is Gabriele Dell’Otto.
For a Hollywood-style analogy, I’ll say he’s
like Ross meets Sienkiewicz with a sprinkle of Cassaday
(there, that oughtta hold the little S.O.B.s…). But
no, seriously, Dell’Otto’s painting is beautiful
and, despite Bendis’ work, he’s stolen the show.
His style isn’t hard to recognize as European, but
the proportions and weight of the characters don’t
grate against the superhero standard.
the man’s great achievement here is that balance between
fantasy and reality. Bendis’ story calls for a low-key
brand of superheroics that don’t cheapen the effect
by featuring men in capes flying through every shot. Aside
from a few action scenes and shots of costumes, Dell’Otto’s
world doesn’t feel overwhelmingly different from our
own, reinforcing the links to real life’s “war
those links to our current world that make this story resonate
so immediately. The first Secret Wars was juvenile
fantasy meant to showcase big panels of the entire Marvel
“pantheon” teaming up. This Secret War
is an examination of the world we’ve made for ourselves
and the consequences we suffer for rash actions and backdoor
like America, are built on a dream of creating a better
world for all people. They, through great strength and superior
ability, have named themselves defenders of the world, spreading
a message of peace and friendship.
again like America, they suffer more than just a loss of
face when they realize their doings went against the dream
they held so dear.