Hail Hydra! And Other Spider Related Happenings In This Weeks Comics Across The Multiversity

comics2015-02-18

Continuing my seldom read (hey Johnathon!) run down of three new comics I’ve read this week.  I keep the variety rolling with Multiversity and…hmm….two Spider titles.  I really need to branch out my interests.

As an aside, not covered here but for those interested in all things branded Secret Wars be sure to check out Avengers World #17

Multiversity – Mastermen #1

I don’t know a lot about Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters.  So I asked walking DC Encyclopedia Tom Kelly if he knew much about them and his first response was “Not a whole lot”.  He then went on to say…

They were originally from an alternate Earth, Earth-X or 10, and they came from a world where the Nazis won World War II.  They were probably characters from a company DC bought out like the Charlton and Fawcett characters.  Plastic Man might have been one of them.  Most of the originals were killed off in Infinite Crisis, a few had successors like Phantom Lady and the Human Bomb.

Batman: Brave and the Bold featured them in an episode where Plastic Man joined the team.  Plas’ recitation of American History to some aliens was worth the episode itself.

The original Freedom Fighters didn’t fight a Nazi JLA.

As far as knowing how the Freedom Fighters fit into the DCU, I am not sure there is much to know.  They appeared in one of the annual JLA/JSA team-ups when a bunch of heroes from both teams wound up on their Earth, and they got sucked into the main continuity with the Crisis.  After that, it looks like their backstory is they were just another World War II era super team and they probably knew the JSA.

Members I can name off the top of my head: Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady, Doll Man, the Human Bomb, maybe Iron Monroe.

I’d hate to see Tom’s answer if he knew something about them.  🙂

As for the issue itself, it reads like a typical Elseworlds tale.  A baby Superman whose rocket crashes in Nazi Germany instead of Smallville during World War II.  A man of iron raised as an unstoppable weapon by Hitler himself as the Nazi conquer the world.  But sixty years later there may be a traitor in the midst, an uprising by Uncle Sam and his fellow American Freedom Fighters, and just maybe…a remorseful Overman who is sympathetic to the cause.

I enjoyed the issue.  It was a surprisingly quick read at it’s oversized 40+ pages.  Jim Lee’s art is stellar as usual (if you are into Jim Lee art) and we see some great alternate designs for this Nazi JLA.  The story is compelling and intriguing…but this is Grant Morrison.  I did feel like there was multiple levels of story going on here, but I was only able to scratch the surface of them.  If I had more DC knowledge about all things Uncle Sam, I think I could have taken away a lot more from it.  But there is definitely enough here for anyone with a passing knowledge of the Justice League to enjoy.

I have no idea if this story will continue elsewhere, Multiversity #2 for example, which is unfortunate as you are just given a taste of this world and things to come.  And I guess that is the point.  Straight from Morrison himself:

“…each one of the episodes also sets up a potential series. You could do a Multiverse range of books out of this. All of them are designed to be issue one of potential long-running series as well as being self-contained. It’s been a storytelling challenge, but the whole idea is to set stuff up for future development – not necessarily by me, but by DC in some way.”

I, for one, would definitely be interested in reading more about this Earth-10 and Overman’s battle against the uprising of the Freedom Fighters.

Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man #10

Thanks to movies (Captain America: Winter Soldier) and television (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) Hydra has reemerged as one of the predominant evils in the Marvel Universe.  They seem to be popping up everywhere these days.  Including the Ultimate Universe as you can see from the cover to this weeks Ultimate Spider-Man.  Surprisingly though, given the cover, Hydra’s involvement in this issue is minimal, but powerful.  It will be interesting to see how Bendis finishes up the solo Ultimate Spidey book with issue 12 before Miles moves onto Ultimate End and Secret Wars.

While a little light on action, the issues tends to hit all the right notes.  It is mostly a Bendis-talky dominated story as Miles seeks out advice on what he should do next to handle his girlfriend who hasn’t spoken to him since he revealed his alter ego.  Sounds kind of lame, but is a lot of fun.  And the lightheartedness really jams home the impact of the ending as it takes a very dark turn.  With no real backstory needed here besides Miles telling his secret (which they recap), this is easily an issue for the dedicated and casual reader.  Pick this one up.

Silk #1

I wasn’t going to read Silk #1. I haven’t been a big fan of the character since her introduction just last year. Her origin felt editorially mandated as “we have to do something with Spider-Man for the Original Sin crossover”. (Granted, they really made good use of her and that origin to set up and throughout Spider-Verse.) I’ve never understood her popularity. Spider-Gwen I get. She is cute and different. Everybody besides Cyborg Tom Kelly loves Gwen Stacey. She’s got a kick-ass costume design. Silk’s costume does little for me, but at least it is better than her first all webbing foray.

That webbing only lasts an hour, you better hope it is a short fight.
That webbing only lasts an hour, you better hope it is a short fight.

That said, here I am reading Silk #1. It’s mostly a miss for me. They try to give Silk some backstory besides “I lived in a bunker with spider powers for ten years”, which mostly falls flat. And as much as they try to make this true Spider-Woman distinct, she’s no Jessica Drew. While not a clone, she really comes off as just a female Spider-Man, sarcastic quips and all. Even her job is working with J Jonah Jameson. You can guess who cameos, and their interaction comes off as somewhat out of character given how she’s been written to date in Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Verse. The artwork seems phoned in at times, but while passable is not really my style.

If you have been reading and enjoying Silk’s adventures to this point, give it a shot. Or if you are into strong female lead characters this may be for you. (“Strong” may be too…uh…strong a word for Silk at this point as she is really just trying to find her way after 10 years alone.) I likely won’t be back for issue 2, but that last page does leave me a little intrigued, as last pages of first issues are supposed to do.

Oh, and will you look at that, the preview of the cover for next months issue features…a Hydra symbol.

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