There’s an instant throwback design to the great Alex Ross’ excitingly rich cover for the third issue of Secret Wars. The divide between good and evil represented and then prominence of a variety of characters’ faces is reminiscent of comic book covers of the past, a defining distinction which sets it apart from many comic book covers of the times. Mr. Fantastic and his evil counterpart of the Marvel’s Ultimate universe stand front and center, looking as realistically lifelike as ever, a characteristic of Ross’ work. The facial expressions behind each are just as striking – particularly those of the eloquently drawn Black Widow and Black Swan. The bright, intense palate of red, blue, and purple emphasizes and completes the explosive colorful flood that this image is.
Art of the Month Award:
Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier has ever been a dynamically colorful series. Issue 9 is no exception as Marco Rudy’s flavor for breathtaking pages meet a powerful shower of striking colors…even for this series. The comic opens to an overwhelming blast of light and dark green, pages 14 and 15 connect in a world of a singular dose of hot pink, and so on in differing degrees throughout the issue. It’s an effective tool that carries the story to incredible eights. This excess correlates with Rudy’s phenomenally unique panel work wondrously, too. Pages 7, 10 and 11 are fine examples of this, showing how Rudy can take the outline of a skull and turn it into full blown comic book art without missing a beat in storytelling.
Story of the Month Award: Secret Wars #3 (“The Eye of Doom”)
In Secret Wars #2 we were introduced to what is called “Battleworld”, a place now home to Marvel heroes and villains we’re familiar with, but strangely where these same heroes and villains act in unfamiliar roles and, for some, have unfamiliar personalities. Battleworld is made up of connecting kingdoms from separate parts of the Marvel universe in addition to its alternate multiversal forms all under the metal fist of “God Doom” (or, Doctor Doom, as we know him to be). It’s a very interesting, involving premise and in Secret Wars #3, we get a slight grasp on what exactly is going on after both the Marvel and Ultimate Earth’s collided. The issue begins with Doctor Strange (referred to as the Sheriff of Agamatto) briefing Doom on the potentially escalating threats to the world and soon the issue takes one path, focusing on the survivors of the final incursion and how they react to what has drastically occurred. There is a brief, introspective scene regarding Doom that is a highlight of the comic while, in the course of reading the issue, we’re given information that Battleworld came to be through his and Doctor Strange’s doing. How is still yet to be revealed, however. Furthermore, Jonathan Hickman’s excellently worded dialogue enhances the grounded story all too well. What could be filler conversation is instead essential, or at least, smartly devised, in almost every single panel.
Issue of the Month Award: Secret Wars #3 (“The Eye of Doom”)
From a story perspective, Secret Wars #3 isn’t a comic book issue rife with shocking moments or game-changing twists. Rather, it is a comic book issue teeming with heft; a sense of appropriate confidence from the writer and artist can be found on each page. Hickman’s world-building is subtle but potent enough to invoke an uncommon, perplexing atmosphere and Ribic and Svorcina’s indispensable handling on the art matches the vision for Battleworld. And, surprisingly, this issue contains a memorable scene (page 11) that, because of a superb combination of writing and art, I can see will stand to be one of the most terrifically touching scenes out of the whole year. Well-plotted, well-paced, and with Esad Ribic persisting to put out some of my favorite work of his to date, you can’t go wrong with picking up Secret Wars #3 and following what is to be an event of all events.
Thank you all again for checking out my awards for June and be sure check back sometime next month for July’s Comic Book Awards! Until then, hopefully you and I will continue to be reading comics!