Front Lines - Secret Wars (Week of July 8, 2015)

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Front Lines by Mike Maillaro, Mike Weaver, Grey Scherl, and Gina Maillaro

1872 #1 by Gerry Duggan and Nik Virella

Summary: In the Valley of Doom, there is a town called Timely.  Once gold was found in them there hills, Timely quickly took land from the Natives living in the Valley. Sheriff Steve Rogers tries to keep peace in Timely, but when the Mayor is Wilson Fisk, that is a tough job.  Fisk’s men try to lynch a Native named Red Wolf.  Steve Rogers rescues Red Wolf, bringing him back to the town jail.  Apparently he blew up a dam, but Rogers insists that he deserves a trial by jury.

The dam belonged to Roxxon.  Red Wolf is surprised to see a white man stand up for him.  He tells Rogers that they will likely both die.  Fisk’s men head to take the jail.  Tony Stark (town drunk and inventor) warns Rogers that they are coming, giving Rogers the chance to get the drop on them.  Stark has a high tech blaster up his sleeve to help Rogers, but they are still vastly outnumbered.  They retreat to a barn, but Rogers realizes that Red Wolf is left unprotected.  He rushes out just in time to kill Fisk’s top man, Turk.  But Rogers still refuses to let Red Wolf.  Governor Roxxon telegraphs Fisk noting his failure and saying Roxxon had sent a remedy of his own...Bullseye and Elektra.

Mike Maillaro: This was another fun, unexpected story.  SECRET WARS has been full of them.  I constantly say I am concerned that there are too many SECRET WARS tie-ins, but I have to admit, I have enjoyed most of them.  This was a solid Western story.  I loved the character designs, especially Bullseye and Elektra. Duggan has been going a lot of really good books for SECRET WARS.

Score: 4/5


AGE OF APOCALYPSE #1 by Fabian Nicieza and Gerardo Sandoval

Summary: Holocaust has chased fugitive humans and mutants who fled the Domain of Apocalypse into the Savage Land.  He says, “They dreamed of a place where mutants and humans could coexist. Today that dream dies.”  He then orders his Infinite Soldiers to burn the entire place down.  In the chaos, Destiny tries to protect a young man named Doug Ramsey.  Holocaust turns her into ash, and decides that since Destiny was interested in Doug, he must be important.

Back in Apocalypse’s throne at New Cairo, Essex has been summoned by Baron Apocalypse.  Apocalypse has tasked Essex with dealing with the “Friends of Humanity.”  

Doug is pretty freaked out.  This is the second time one of the Horseman has come after him.  The X-Men arrive to rescue him from Holocaust.  The X-Men seem to be winning here, but they can’t put Holocaust down for the fight.  Storm decides that saving Cypher is more important than saving Sanctuary.  She has Nightcrawler teleport him out of there.  Holocaust goes up in a massive explosion, presumingly killing all the X-Men.

One of Apocalypse’s men (Dr. Bradley) find Nightcrawler dead outside of the blast zone, and they are able to recover Ramsey.  Holocaust is believed to have died, which leaves an opening in the Horsemen.  Bradley teases Dark Beast about the opening, though Beast claims he has no interest in the job...he’s too busy mourning the death of “our leader’s son.”  Essex and Beast can’t figure out why this mutant is so important to Apocalypse and the X-Men.  Ramsey is being interrogated by Cyclops and Havok, but he doesn’t seem inclined to tell them anything.  Cyclops is kind of disgusted by having to do this, but Havok seem totally into it.  Essex orders Cyclops, Havok, and Ramsey to hit the Ghettos the next day to find if the X-Men are hiding out there.

The next day, Havok and Cyclops arrive with their human liaison Peter Corbeau and Sherrif Carol Danvers.  Wolverine and Magneto lead the surviving X-Men in an attack on them to try and grab Ramsey.

Grey:  After years of awful AoA returns, we’ve finally got something great! This is easily the best Age of Apocalypse story since Sinister Bloodlines. I mean, the arc in Exiles was fun, but it tied too tightly to the absolutely god-awful ten year anniversary that was written by some schmuck that hasn’t been back since.

Mike: I loved the tone of this. It felt so much like AoA.  As soon as Apocalypse commented that he liked the “challenge” of the Friends of Humanity, I was hooked.  The real nice part for me was that unlike a lot of the SECRET WARS tie-ins, this actually was AGE OF APOCALYPSE, and not just repurposing the title for a book that had no connection to the original.

Grey: Old Man Logan started off similarly enough, being incredibly true to the original series….but then just sorta dumped him in the Age of Apocalypse. Irony?

Mike: Other than Years of Future Past and X-Men ‘92, the X-Men titles for Secret Wars have been some of the best books.  I’m glad for that.  I have pretty much been a huge X-Men fan almost as long as I’ve read comics, and the last few years, Marvel has been putting out a lot of real good X-Men stories.  Including these SECRET WARS tie-ins.  Then again, I am a sucker for any story with Doug Ramsey.  New Mutants for life!

Grey: NM4L! Hey, more irony, the X-Men books have been the best parts of Secret Wars while Marvel is trying to devalue the X-franchise. Go figure. Also, have you noticed yet that every X-Men book has some sort of mutant killing virus in it?

Mike: Hmmm….I actually hadn’t made that connection, but you have a point.  I know the rumor was that the X-Men would be unable to live on Earth after SECRET WARS.  I wonder if that will play out in some way.  There are quite a few X-Men books after SECRET WARS, but I guess they could exist in their own bubble.  Like Planet X or something like that.  Which actually could work well for the X-Men…

Grey: I had heard that they were supposed to all be sent into space, but now we’ve got the All-New X-Men on a road trip, so I guess they aren’t forced totally off planet? I just want fun and engaging stories and for Marvel to admit that the mutants are infinitely better than the Inhumans can ever be.

Mike: It sounds like Mystery Science Theater...the X-Men’s bosses didn’t like them, so they sent them into space….

Grey: It’s the most difficult white washing ever. Try and devalue the X-Men? That’s cool, fans aren’t soon going to forget that they were your anchor from 1980 until 2005. Or that Fox succeeding with their X-Men movies (and Sony with Spider-Man) is what got Marvel to make their attempt, which is the only reason the Avengers are prominent. I mean, dude, you read more than I did in the 90’s, they were a joke!

Mike: Yeah, even during the BIG Avengers events at the time, I basically refused to read them.  Except for Blood Ties when they crossed over with...survey says...the X-Men!  

Grey: That and Onslaught. I mean, shit, what was I supposed to do? Read The Crossing?

Score: 4.5/5


Summary: Ever since he caused Eddie Brock’s death, Peter Parker has been having nightmares. He wakes up to his Spider-Sense warning him of danger involving his daughter, Annie.  Peter and MJ rush into her room to find her sleeping on the ceiling.  Annie is still afraid of Venom coming back.  She also broke the inhibitor that is supposed to help her hide her powers to keep her safe from the Regent.

Peter wants to repair the inhibitor, but the parts are expensive.  They take Annie to school, with MJ warning her about the dangers of using her powers.  Peter goes off to take pictures of Shocker, Rhino, and Boomerang taking out Demolition Man.  D-Man is trying to get heroes to rise up, but the surviving ones have basically gone into hiding since the Regent killed the X-Men and Avengers to absorb their powers.  D-Man is brought before the Regent, but D-Man is too weak to interest him.  Beetle alerts Regent that  a power child has shown up in one of New York’s schools.  Regent sents Beetle with a team to get the child.  

Peter is at the Bugle taking a bribe from JJJ not to run the pictures he took.  He hears the Beetle is heading towards his daughter’s school.  He pulls up his hood and races over there.  The world realizes Spider-Man has returned.  Beetle and company are looking for one of the Power Pack, not Annie.  Spider-Man jumps in and chases off the Regent’s men.  Regent wants Spider-Man’s powers, so he brings together the Sinister Six to go after him.

MJ insists that if Spider-Man is back in action, he needs to stay to the shadows.  They pull the black costume out of storage, which terrifies poor Annie.

Mike Maillaro: This is kind of an odd series.  It would be far better if it was more like SPIDER-GIRL (more on that in my comments on SPIDER-ISLAND).  I have always loved Peter and MJ together, but RENEW YOUR VOWS has made their relationship feel so blah and generic.  My favorite part of this issue was that D-Man and Power Pack appeared.  That should never be the highlight of a comic.  Even the Regent is just not an interesting villain.  This guy took out the Avengers and X-Men, and somehow still feels like a lame d-lister.

Grey: He’s kinda sorta totally awful. Like, REALLY awful. Some sci-fi design plastered on top of Kingpin. Power Pack absolutely made the issue for me, and you know I’m not even a fan of them, but I just started laughing at how Pete got his ass all the way across town, and his daughter was the only superhuman that hadn’t been outed.

Also, my bad feeling remains. I’ve got a dollar that says MJ dies before the book is over....I’ve got a second dollar if Mephisto shows up.

Mike’s Score: 3/5

CIVIL WAR #1 by Charles Soule & Leinil Francis Yu

Summary: During the break-in at the 42 prison, T’Challa trips a self-destruct sequence that he claims was set up by Iron Man.  Maria Hill then tells Iron Man that T’Challa intentionally activated it.  The prison blows up, but Cloak tries to get as many people (of any side) out as he can.  Unfortunately, part of the explosion comes through his portal, and a lot of people die since he’s teleporting into a populated area.  This sets up Iron Man and Cap each setting up their own “countries” in the divided United States.  We get a glimpse of how new powered people are treated in each country, with people in Tony’s “The Iron” filtered to a school, and people in Cap’s “The Blue” told to go ahead and use their powers, but don’t hurt anyone.

Miriam Sharpe (mother of one of the victims of the school explosion that started Civil War) lives on the border between the two countries and hosts a talk between Cap and Iron Man hoping for peace.  Cap brings Spider-Man with him, Iron Man brings She-Hulk...and Spider-Man’s wife and kid, allowing them to spend time together during the talks.  Cap accuses Tony of intentionally starving his country, Tony tells Cap that’s because “The Iron” is a recognized state and “The Blue” is rogue, so people would rather deal with him than Cap.  Tony, meanwhile, wants Cap to cede some land because “The Iron” is getting overpopulated.  Cap strongly disagrees.  

A sniper then kills Miriam Sharpe.  Cap has Parker break off his meeting with his wife and kid to investigate it, and while the bullet came from the Blue side, it’s pretty clear that it was meant to hit Cap and that only Bullseye could manage a shot like that.  Also pretty convenient that Spider-sensing Parker was otherwise occupied.  Cap blames Tony for the sniping and says he’s going to active war with him.  Tony tries to claim that’s just because Cap’s a soldier and wants war in order to remain relevant, Cap disagrees.  They walk away from each other to mass armies.

Weaver: A lot happened in this issue, it certainly gave a lot of bang for the buck.  I do want to say I think it had way too many alternate covers, but that’s a common problem these days.  I felt this gave us something that Civil War itself promised but never delivered: some kind of positive view on both sides (especially Pro-Reg, who twirled their mustaches and strapped people to train tracks in actual Civil War).  Sure, Tony’s side does seem a little more morally questionable, but scenes like the “new powers” speech actually made them look if not good, at least understandable.  And yes, it looks like Tony hired an assassin to kill Steve, but that could just be a frame-up, and I want to believe it’s a frame-up, because otherwise, Tony comes off looking pretty decent.

Score: 4.5/57

INFERNO #3 by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Garron

Summary: Colossus leads his forces into Illyana’s lair, but it seems like she’s long gone.  At first, Colossus thinks Madeline Pryor betrayed him, but Domino convinces him otherwise.  She also warns him against picking fights with their only allies.

Illyana and her demonic Nightcrawler have decided to go cease the X-Men’s HQ while Colossus and company are in New York trapped under the force field that was supposed to keep Illyana and her demons contained.  Nightcrawler was the only way to get in or out, and Illyana controlled him now.  Since Illyana is gone anyway, Madeline assumes her throne.

The X-Men are fighting back against the demons, but losing.  Brother Voodoo and Forge arrive with mystical backup, but they were supposed to be responsible for keeping the force field up.  It collapses and Illyana is able to get to the X-Men’s leader, Cyclops.  Meanwhile, Sinister is behind the scenes orchestrating all of this.

Mike Maillaro: This has a been a great alternate reality X-Men story,  I would almost put it on the same level as the original AGE OF APOCALYPSE.  Everything just fits together that well without a lot of wasted exposition.  I can’t wait to see where this story goes from here.  

Grey: “We need to stop the Bamf Dragon!”

I love this book, and having talked to Steve about it, I’ve realized that it’s entirely because my first giant sized X-Men trade when I got into the X-books was Inferno. I have so much love and nostalgia for this event that happened years before I knew what an X-Man was.

Mike: Yeah, I read Inferno long after it came out too, but it has always been one of my favorite X-Men stories.  No idea why, but for some reason, X-Men and demons always worked well for me.  On the surface, it sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I have always liked that combination.

Grey: The subtle corruption of the X-Men, X-Factor trying to save the day, and the New Mutants trying to save their friend. There was a lot going on, and I loved it. Plus, I’ve never forgotten the mailbox eating the dude in the beginning. Plus, this issue answered my big question about the mini. The original Inferno had a fake-out ending after Maddie died, with everyone thinking everything is great only to be smacked down by Sinister. Then we’ve got this world where the Inferno never ended, and Maddie is still alive, so it’s like...something is missing. HI SINISTER!

Score: 4/5

GHOST RACERS #2 by Felipe Smith and Juan Gedeon

Summary: This issue starts with a lengthy flashback telling how Robbie ended up at the Ghost Races, His little brother, Gabe, opening a hydrant on a hot day which is a violation of Doom’s law.  When the police arrived to arrest Gabe, Robbie tried to stop them.  The police scanned him and found out that he as a “spirit of ignition” inside him.  They arrest him instead of Gabe, and assigned him to an armored battle charger in the Ghost Races.  The spirit reveals itself to him.  In his first race, the other races take him out quickly.  He’s tortured with the other losing racers.  His spirit (Eli) promises if Robbie never loses again, Eli will find a way to get them out.

Back in the present, Robbie has won every race since. Arcade makes a massive bet against Robbie, and tells his head of security Zadkiel to ensure that Robbie loses his next race.  During the race, Arcade targets Robbie at every turn, so Robbie tells Eli that it’s time to keep his word.  Eli opens a portal and they vanish.  Arcade orders Zadkiel to find him.  Zadkiel sends all the other Ghost Racers to get Robbie.

Mike Maillaro: The flashback scene to start this issue was wat too long.  It was real good and I enjoyed finding out more about Robbie, but since it’s unlikely these versions of these characters will appear outside of this comic, I can’t help but think that it was kind of pointless.  I did enjoy this setting, but it felt like more time could have been used for action instead of a lengthy set-up in flashback form.

Score: 3.5/5

MASTER OF KUNG FU #3 by Haden Blackman and Dalibor Talajic

Summary: We start with a recap of why Iron Fist and Shang Chi are at odds, namely that Shang Chi killed the former master of the Iron Fist, presumably because Lord Tuan embarrassed his father, the emperor.  Rand swears vengeance on both the emperor and Shang Chi, but it’s easier to defeat the emperor first since the Thirteen Chambers tournament (to establish who the empire for the next 13 years is) is about to begin.  Shang Chi shows up at the last moment to throw his hat in the ring, which Rand doesn’t like, but ultimately, everyone has to accept it.  A lot of other contestants are here as well including Black Panther, Namor, a female Sabretooth, a female Moon Knight, a female Mandarin, and Karnak, who manages to stay male.  Shang Chi understands that the emperor will make this as difficult as possible for him.  Kitty Pryde tags along with him into the Thirteen Chambers, purely as an observer and to give us some play by play.

First, Shang Chi fights Namor in a chamber of water.  He dispatches him relatively easily by stabbing him in the lungs, but elects not to kill him, saying he doesn’t want to kill any of the great masters.  Then he correctly predicts that he’s going to have to fight essentially everyone else next. He makes it through the fight, but is badly injured by Black Panther and Karnak.  This sets him up to then face Rand in the next round, which cliffhangs to the next issue.

Weaver: Not a lot of plot happened here, the main focus was on kung fu chop socky and recaps, but the issue still worked pretty well.  It was vaguely annoying that there were so many male to female gender swaps...I understand wanting to make everything different, but you don’t do that by making everything different in the same way.  Using Psylocke as Lady Mandarin was good, though.  The fights were a little too quick for this to be just a fight and recap issue.  All in all, a slightly above average comic, which makes it a disappointment.

Maillaro: I wonder if that was a commentary for Marvel. In the main Marvel universe over the last few years, they swapped Captain Marvel to a woman.  Thor to a woman.  Wolverine to a woman.  (I don’t actually believe that, but the idea amused me).

Score: 3/5


Summary: Shiklah has led the Howling Commandos into hell.  she claims she wants to spread her dead brothers’ ashes there, but she’s looking for the second part of a weapon to kill Dracula.  Meanwhile, the Howling Commandos are under orders to kill her.  Not exactly the best basis for a trusting relationship.

They reach the River Styx and are attacked by the undead.  They fight the undead off and steal the riverman’s boat.  When they reach the other side, Shiklah tries to kill them using her secret weapon, the head of Medusa...but someone replaced it with a watermelon with some bananas tied to the side.  The Commandos admit they were sent to kill her, but they want to work with her to get rid of Dracula too.  Shiklah doesn’t trust them, since they killed they own ally Invisible Man...but they reveal that Invisible Man wasn’t really killed.  In fact, he’s been spying on Dracula and Shiklah in secret which is how the Commandos realized Shiklah could be a good ally.

Back on the surface, two Thors arrive to confront Dracula about trouble he’s been causing that has gotten Doom’s attention.

Gina:  First, I have to say I loved the Daredevil plug, even though I don’t read the title.  Second, while I love Deadpool’s “narration”  it doesn’t seem to be well placed in this book.  He appears at random times to serve as comic relief, but there really is no need for it (the plot is not that deep).  Truthfully, while I am clearly a victim of a marketing strategy, Deadpool does not need to haunt us with his presence (pun intended) for this book to tell a story, and in some ways detracts from the creeping plot line.  Initially, I thought they were going to use Deadpool to not only break the fourth wall, but also to break into the intricate webbing of Doom’s makeshift reality. That does not appear to be the case, and that makes for a very disappointed reader.

Score: 2.5/5

Mike: I have to totally disagree with your score on this one.  I thought this was a lot of fun.  I do agree that Deadpool adds nothing to it, I thought it was plenty entertaining even without him.  I would go a 3.5 on it.  

RUNAWAYS #2 by Noelle Stevenson & Sanford Greene

Summary: The “Breakfast Club” have been thrown together for their final exam.  Pass and they continue rising in Doom’s ranks.  Fail and they wash out.  When the simulation starts. Amadeus Cho is working to hack the system.  Pixie is “killed” and removed from the simulation.  Cho is able to get them into a “parallel level” escaping the danger.  But when they get there, they find the dead bodies of the students who failed to move out, including Pixie.  Students who fail are killed, not sent home.   The students decide they need to get out of there.  The students manage to escape, except for Sanna who seems to have stayed behind to rat them out.

Gina: I thought this issue was much better than the last one.  While the severity of the exams was made clear in Valeria’s speech, even I was mildly surprised by the revelation that the “holograms”  they were fighting were other students (although I am not sure I should have expected anything less from Doom).  As a fan of the original “Runaways” title, I was skeptical about where we were headed, I think it is definitely going to provide an entertaining ride.

Mike: I enjoyed this issue too.  Good plot twist, and the characters felt a lot more developed than they did in the first issue. I still would rather the cast be a little closer to the BKV series, just because I really miss seeing those characters.

Score: 4.5/5

SECRET WARS 2099 #3 by Peter David and Will Sliney

Summary: The Avengers are trying to track down Martin Hargood to find out what his connection is to the attack on Captain America, but the Defenders are also looking for him. While the teams face off, Martin tries to run off, but he’s taken down by two other Defenders, Submariner and Valkyrie.  When the Avengers and Defenders realize what happened, they end up agreeing to work together.  Strange warns the Avengers that Hargood is involved with mystical elements looking to destroy the world.  We find out that Hargood is Baron Mordo’s grandson.

Back at Alchemax, the Avengers aren’t able to get much out of him, other than “The Dweller is coming.”  Miguel offers the Defenders a position with Alchemax, but Strange says they are not interested.  Miguel says that if they refuse, they are supervillains.  Alchemax security and the Avengers work to subdue the Defenders. Strange manages to escape with Valkyrie, but Miguel paralyzes Hulk with a venom bite.

Mike Maillaro: Some real good character moments in this one, like Hercules flirting with Valkyrie and arm-wrestling Sub-Mariner.  It almost felt like a classic Avengers story.  The plot didn’t quite move here, but I still enjoyed it a lot.  Which surprised me since the first issue of this one was real blah. The series has definitely felt more like 2099 in this issue, so that helped a lot.

Score: 3.5/5

SPIDER-ISLAND #1 by Christos Gage and Paco Diaz

Summary: Spider-Island is the Kingdom of the Spider-Queen.  Basically this domain is on a world where the heroes didn’t save the day, and the spider-virus is still running rampant. Spider-Man is dead, but there are still heroes trying to fight back, including Agent Venom and Vision.  They are looting medical supplies when they are attacked by a small army of mutated humans.  The tide is turned as night falls and of the the mutants is revealed to be Werewolf by Night.  When he turns into a werewolf, the virus loses it’s hold on him, so he functions as a spy of sorts for the heroes.  Vision takes the supplies back to headquarters.  A mutated Hulk arrives, and Werewolf and Venom manage to escape  into the sewers.  Werewolf reveals that he heard their is a cure being kept in Horizon Labs.  When Venom tells this to the other heroes, Spider-Woman suspects it is a trap.  Venom suggests that he has a back up plan.

Several of the underground storm Horizon Labs.  When they reach the main lab, they are ambushed by Captain Marvel, Hulk, and Captain America.  But Venom’s other plan kicks in.  He uses ideas similar to Werewolf by Night.  The moonstone turns Captain America into a werewolf.  And they use the Morbius and Lizard serum on Captain Marvel and Hulk respectively.  Before they can figure out if this works, several more spiders arrive, led by Iron Fist and Iron Man.

“Mayday Parker: Spider-Woman” by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frez

Summary: May has decided to start calling herself Spider-Woman, though everyone seems to still be calling her Spider-Girl.  She’s still mourning her dad’s death during SPIDER-VERSE.  She turns to Hornet (Cassie Lang) for a talk.

Meanwhile, Hank Pym Jr. goes to Avengers Mansion to warn Scott Lang that Cassie is in danger.

May and Cassie are attacked by American Dream and her Dream Team.  They accuse May of being a fake who killed Spider-Man.  May and Cassie try to fight them off, but Cassie suddenly turns on May attacking her.

Mike Maillaro: Uhm...yeah.  I was not expecting that.  I really haven’t talked too much about the backup stories that have been popping up in various SECRET WARS tie-ins.    Most of them have been pointless, serving only to jack up the cover price to $5.  But this one was awesome!  It’s the first time we have had a dedicated M2 story with more than just Spider-Girl in a long time.  Just for the back-up story, I would have to give this book a good score for having a great Spider-Girl story by the original creative team.

BUT, I actually liked the main story too.  Like CIVIL WAR, this seemed like a natural continuation of what would have happened if the heroes lost during SPIDER-ISLAND.  The character choices all made sense, and Venom’s plan while insane, was unexpected and clever.  I definitely enjoyed this comic far more than I expected too.


The core story was a lot of fun, and I like how they just tweaked the end of actual Spider-Island to set it up. It makes the book feel more like a good What If?! than a throwaway alternate reality. Flash makes for a great lead, and I absolutely loved Spider-Hulk.

Back to Spider-Girl! Crimson Curse is alive? Big Man is a semi-stranger to the Avengers? Which Battleworld map is this, because there are just enough changes from MC2 to be clear that there’s been a continuity shuffle (like AoA had). Not a complaint, obviously, but it just makes me want more. Come on Marvel, GIVE ME BACK MY MAY!

Mike Maillaro’s Score: 4.5/5

Grey Scherl’s Score: It’s a Spider-Girl World/5

SPIDER-VERSE #3 by Mike Costa and Andre Araujo

Summary: The Spiders are confronted by the Sinister Six in the employee of Norman Osborn.  The Spiders have never worked together before which puts them at a huge disadvantage. The Sinister Six easily defeat them and bring them to Osborn, who claims he didn’t want the Spiders hurt.  Osborn reveals that Spider-Ham was working for him the whole time.  Norman wants the Spiders’ help.  He shows them there is a Web through time and space that has been badly damaged.  This is why their memories have been so messed up since Doom brought they to Battleworld.  He wants their help.  Most of the Spiders seem to be willing to take him at themr work, but Gwen decides to leave.  She finds herself back at her gravesite, and Peter Parker is there.

Mike Maillaro: Of all the announcements of Marvel’s post-SECRET WARS plans, one of my favorite bits of news was that the Spiders would be teaming up in an Exiles-like book. These characters just work so well together. In a lot of ways, this has been one of my favorite tie-ins because of how clearly is it tied into how the Marvel multiverse was before the incursions.  

I also want to add that Spider-Gwen’s argument with Spider-Ham about eating BBQ that ended with the absurd line of “WE DON’T EAT MONKEYS!” might have been my favorite bit of comic dialogue since Gwen said “Fridged from a bridged” towards the end of SPIDER-VERSE.

Grey: Yeah, Spider-Ham was the best part about this book. Spider-Gwen is getting kinda tired to me already, but Peter Porker’s love of anything pork was the funniest thing of the entire week.

Mike: I like Spider-Gwen when the right writer is on her.  I think Jason Latour (who created her) can’t quite get the right tone of humor for her that I enjoy so much.  But Dennis Hopeless did a great job with her in Spider-Woman and Mike Costa hit it here too. So it’s probably a fairer assessment to say that I like certain writer’s interpretations of the character than I actually like the character.

Grey: I gave up on her solo book sometime after the artist freaked out on Frank Cho. It didn’t really feel must read, and...I dunno, I don’t miss it. I do like how Costa is treating her here, but...I really can’t find the words for this, ha. Alright, so it’s like, I like her scenes with Spider-Ham, and I don’t mind her in the group dynamic, and I was interested (sorta) when Pete showed up at the end, just like I was when she wound up face to face with Norman...but whenever she’s on her own she just seems to turn into a generic angsty teen.

Score: 4.5/5

SQUADRON SINISTER #2  by Marc Guggenheim and Carlos Pacheco

Summary: Nighthawk asks Whizzer to go on patrol with him.  They kill off some guys trying to steal food, which is all a front for Nighthawk trying to convince Whizzer to work with him against Hyperion.  Whizzer considers it, but doesn’t say for certain that he’s joining in.  Meanwhile, Hyperion has a lunch date with Mr. Sinister, who suggests that the Thor killed in Hyperion’s region was killed just to cause trouble for Hyperion. The Squadron as a whole meets up with the Frightful Four to try to arrange a compromise over Europix, a zone they both have designs on. Hyperion delivers an ultimatum: leave Europix alone or he’ll kill them all.

Warrior Woman, meanwhile, continues to work with the New Universe people against Hyperion on the sly.  Starbrand seems to be giving a portion of his power to a bunch of different people in order to take out Hyperion later.

The Frightful Four attacks Europix (basically, Marvel’s WWII guys).  The Squadron Sinister intercedes and kills some of the Frightful Four. Nighthawk captures Paste Pot Pete.  When they return to their base, someone has broken in and stolen the Argonite Gun.  Nighthawk implicates Sandman, then tortures Paste Pot Pete so that he’ll agree with Nighthawk that it was Sandman.  Then Nighthawk leverages the fact that he knows Warrior Woman is working against Hyperion to bring her into his conspiracy to uproot him too.

Weaver: We have the second straight issue of Nighthawk setting up a conspiracy against Hyperion while some outside agency is built up as “the big threat.”  A Starbrand army is admittedly a bigger threat to build than, oh, say, Sandman and friends, but that doesn’t prevent this issue from feeling a lot like a retread of the first issue.  Also, several times they show a map of an area of Battleworld they’re in, and the maps are inconsistent.  This drove me nuts.

Score: 3/5

X-MEN ‘92 #4 by Chad Bowers, Chris Sims, and Scott Koblish

Summary:  In the Mindfield, Rouge is dreaming of a romantic with Gambit.  But even in her dream, she freaks out about the idea of touching him.  She gives a lengthy monologue on why that would be a bad thing.  And then Gambit gives a lengthy monologue of his own on why he’s no good for her.  Gambit leans over to kiss her, and Cassandra Nova pops out of the picnic basket to yell at them for vulgar displays of sexual tension.  Rogue and Gambit try to attack her, but she’s able to do some psychic judo and easily defeat them both.  She turns them into the proper role models she wants.  She then reject the Beast for being too much of a beast.

Meanwhile, Jubilee is trying to help the other rejected mutants rise up and escape.  Beast is tossed in with them.  Beast and Jubilee then discover that Cassandra is having the rejects build her an X-Sentinel.

Cable and his X-Force team arrive at the X-Mansion, summoned by Professor X.  But by the time they get there, Chuckie Baby is already dead.

Mike Maillaro: At this point, I am literally only buying this comic just to review for this column.  In the attempt to homage the 90’s, it seems to have ONLY taken the worst parts of X-Men comics from that period.  The lengthy monologuing in particular just makes this comic so dull and unreadable to me.  This comic could have been so good in the hands of someone like Lobdell, Nicieza, or Liefeld.  Instead, it’s just dull and pointless filler.

Score: 2.5/5