Secret Wars Rankings: Over Under Upside Down

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One of the great things about all these Secret Wars crossovers is that so many are quality reads.  The quality varies of course.  Some are outstanding while others trail behind, but most everything is worth checking out.  This also makes it incredibly tough to rank them.

There are almost 50 unique series now.  And when attempting to rank them books fall into clusters where there is little difference in quality.  Hence when a series has a new issue that is awesome or degrades in quality from its predecessors, the series can seem to drop or rise greatly in the rankings.

After the break we’ll look at this weeks biggest movers and shakers on the Secret Wars Power Rankings.  There are also three new books this week which had a ripple effect in the rankings.  And some of my cohorts drop by with their overrated/underrated opinions.  (Spoiler alert, overrated: Watson.)

New This Week

Three new title dropped this week as Marvel is determined to get all the monies.

  • Debuting very impressively in the top ten is Howard The Human.  This was a book I had no interest in, but am very glad I read it.  Writer Skottie Young and artist Jim  Mahfood’s styles mesh perfectly in a hilarious tale of Howard, the lone human private investigator in a domain populated by animal versions of Marvel’s usual suspects.
  • Not fairing as well was House of M, thudding in at #42.  I really liked the House of M event back in 2005.  Particularly its great rendition of (surprise!) Spider-Man.  But this book was mostly a bore.  It’s been awhile since I’ve read the source material, so I’m not sure where this domain branches off from, but the events finale obviously didn’t happen.
  • Last but not least is Secret Wars Secret Love.  Yet another book of short stories joining its companion series Secret Wars Battleworld (#46) and Secret Wars Journal (#29).  As you can see, I’m not a big fan of either of those books, so a ranking of #47 (of 48) is not that surprising.  I’ve seen some pretty good reviews for the book elsewhere (including our friends at the Comixology podcast) but it just did nothing for me.  Also the cover is a total lie.  None of the stories are “pulpy” nor about the pre-Secret Wars incursions.

Biggest Movers

  • The biggest mover this week was Spider-Verse, dropping an eyebrow raising 8 spots.  Two factors here.  The first being that the series has been pretty solid to this point, but the latest issue was a major let down, so it lost some steam.  But remember those “clusters” I mentioned off the hop?  They play a role here too.  While the book did deserve a drop, the amount was exaggerated by the status quo of the quality of books surrounding it.
  • I could almost write the exact same blurb about Runaways which dropped 7 spots.  A bit of a let down with issue three with an exaggerated drop.
  • M.O.D.O.K. Assassin didn’t have a new book this week, but dropped 5 mostly thanks to the high debut of Howard The Human and getting leapfrogged by some other books like Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies, Secret Wars Journal and Weirdworld.
  • Speaking of Weirdworld, it was the biggest upwards mover this week, climbing 7 slots.  To be honest, this was mostly due to Tom crying about it being ranked so low last week.  Just kidding Tom!  There was a bit of “clustering effect” here in the opposite direction, but issue 3 was also an excellent book in an otherwise solid series.
  • The other large dropper this week was Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders.  As you could tell from it’s previous top 5 ranking, I loved the first book.  It had a great twist on the Iron Man/Dr. Yinsen story and I’m a sucker for tie-ins that seem like they might have some relevance, or at least heavily acknowledge the main series.  This one had Doom showing up and doing what Doom does in playing God.  The Thor of the domain plays a huge role.  It also had a great cliffhanger.  But then issue two was just, blah.  A huge disappointment, especially since the series will only be those two issues.  It will likely end up ranked fairly high buoyed by that first issue, but overall they really dropped the ball here.

Most overrated

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Squadron Sinister

Tom: I am not quite sure why this one is ranked so high.  Since the old Squadron Supreme mini, the first mature-themed superhero mini-series, beating out both Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns to store shelves, came out, it was basically the Justice League story that Mark Gruenwald never got to tell.  This mini seems more like the Crime Syndicate story Mark Guggenheim never got to tell.  I will give it points for pulling in some of the more obscure zones on the map, like the Supreme Power universe, Marvel’s war comics, and the New Universe.  But the story isn’t doing much for me, truth be told.  Carlos Pacheo’s artwork is great and all, but the story doesn’t seem to have the ability to grab me as much as some of the others.

Jimmy:  Really?  I’m digging this book (as being ranked #3 would imply).  I’m enjoying the art and the story, the inner workings of the Squad and how everything is crumbling down around them.  I’ve never read the original Gruenwald story, something I should probably remedy, but I did enjoy Supreme Power.

As mentioned, my favorite tie-ins to tend to be ones that at least give the illusion of being core to the main story and the inner workings of Battleworld.  This series has that in spades.

Issue #3 is not out until next week, so we will see then if it can continue to hold off the likes of Old Man Logan, Armor Wars and Planet Hulk.

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Where Monsters Dwell

Tom: Normally, I love Garth Ennis, but this book, which maybe didn’t even start off as a Secret Wars tie-in but was just conveniently labeled as one, is neutered Ennis.  The way this story is set up, it’s like watching a network TV version of Animal House.  The stuff that Ennis is known for, it just isn’t here.  I find the story more disappointing as a result.

Jimmy:  I can definitely agree with that.  Ennis can’t really cut loose here the way he could on say Preacher or probably even the “adult” MAX Punisher book (both of which are recommended reads of course).  But a toned down Ennis is still better than most writers out there.  And I still think the book is a lot of fun.  My extremely low expectations going in may have helped boost my perception of it as well.

Most underratted

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Runaways

Ryan:   Biggest miss/underrated continues to be Runaways.   Having it fall 7 places is just bizarre–that was another fun issue and they are completely, *completely* nailing the tone of the original Runaways while still keeping it completely original.  There’s only one overlapping character (Molly) and her instigating a fight in the 1872 zone was possibly the only positive thing I have to say about the 1872 zone (which keeps coming up despite my refusing to read any more of the 1872 series).  This deserves to be far higher than 1 spot above Age of Ultron v. Marvel Zombies, which still fails to deliver on a promising premise.  And the fact that Civil War, another interesting premise that makes no sense, is a full 14 slots above Runaways is insane.  Runaways is the undefeated football team that everyone wants to treat like division 3 but it’s actually delivering on multiple levels.  It deserves a much higher ranking.

Jimmy:  We’ll just have to agree to disagree about Runaways.  It just does nothing for me.  And as I said last week, I haven’t read any other Runaways so nailing the tone or not doesn’t weigh into my enjoyment of it.  There was a bit of “clustering” which caused what appeared to be such a massive drop, but I still ranked issue 3 lower than the first two issues.  Runaways just isn’t for me.

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Amazing Spider-Man:  Renew Your Vows

Tom: I never got why Spider-Man’s marriage had to be erased.  None of the arguments made sense.  He wasn’t relatable?  Single Peter was what the readers wanted?  You couldn’t tell various stories with Peter married?  What a load of hooey.  My first Spider-Man comic had a married Peter and I never minded.  Comics show so little progress by their very nature, that any sort of milestone is worth celebrating.  I more or less quit Spider-Man after One More Day, and maybe I have missed out on stuff like Spider-Verse and Spider-Island, stuff I probably would have enjoyed, but so be it.

Dan Slott knows how to make a good, fun superhero story.  He has a good grasp on Spidey, and whoa, who knew you could tell a good Spider-Man story with a married Peter Parker?  You know, besides all the fans that got pissed off by One More Day.

Jimmy:  I’ve never had an issue with married Spider-Man.  I started seriously collecting comics just prior to Peter and MJ getting married, so that was the Spider-Man I grew up with until the horrid One More Day.  I can get that they wanted to make him single or relatable or whatever (rightly or wrongly), but it was the way they went about it that turned me.  Peter making deals with the devil is so outside the tone of Spider-Man that it just left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.  And none of this even mentions that the Spider-Daughter was just written out of the series in like a page and never mentioned again.  Which has nothing to do with One More Day, but at least it made “sense” in terms of Spider-Man’s “universe”.

I essentially quite Spider-Man after One More Day as well, only reading the occasional storyline like Spider-Island, which is quite good and recommended.  (Spider-Verse is very fun as well.)  It wasn’t until Superior Spider-Man that I got full time back on the Spider-Man train.  I surprisingly miss Spock, as Peter has gone back to being a bit on the annoying side and if his new post Secret Wars costume is any indication, that might not change.

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A giant glowing green spider symbol? The return of the Spider-Mobile? Ugh.

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As for this series, you know I want to love it.  Peter and MJ back together?  Yeah!  But I find Peter is just too out of character.  Hey, I don’t have kids, and I know they change your life, but Peter is like a completely different character.  He is giving up the webs for years, killing(!) villains and other decisions that maybe parents can relate to but I just find is too over the top.  Maybe I’m completely wrong.  It’s an ok series, currently in the middle of the pack, but I really wanted more from it.

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Ghost Racers

Tom: Ghost Racers isn’t the best of the Secret Wars tie-ins, but it is far from the worst.  Whoever put it together just decided to have fun with the Ghost Rider concept.  Pretty much all the Ghost Riders are there.  The Old West one.  Johnny Blaze.  Dan Ketch.  Vengeance.  Ghost Rider 2099.  Robbie Reyes, the only one to not drive a motorcycle.  The visuals are nuts.  The story is fast-paced.  When the Riders powered down and Vengeance turned out to be an ape…OK, that was just plain nuts and fun at the same time.

Jimmy:  I’m a big Ghost Rider fan from back in the day and I do like this series.  It’s a great concept with a decent story, I just wish it was a little bit better.  It’s currently, unlike Robbie Reyes, solidly in the middle of the pack, so there is potential for growth.

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