Friday, February 6, 2009

Secret Warriors

By now, it is no secret that I love comics. Besides having an interest in some off-the-beaten-path comics, I have a taste for more mainstream (and often superhero driven) stuff. These days, with so many people claiming comics-love for street cred (most of them gravitating to the titles that feature zombies), it seems almost counter-culture to admit enjoying mainstream comics.

Recently, Marvel comics has made some very bold decisions as a company to make sweeping changes to their lineups, cancelling titles that were proven money makers in favor of new orders that reflect changes in the overall storyline of the Marvel Universe . This seems a really cool re-orientation (though it's been going on for a while now) to the writer.

One of those very VERY new titles is a book called Secret Warriors.



Issue #1 just hit the stands, though, and it's great. The concept was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. Issue 1 was scripted by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Stefano Caselli (and it seems that at least Hickman will be fairly permanent on the series, which is good).

After only one issue, it's fairly unusual for me to get excited about a series. It usually takes three of four before I'm all in. However, the ending of this one issue is so shocking that I'm 100% on board. The extras at the end of the issue aren't just amazing, they tie in with the story. Even if that weren't the case, the book does one of my favorite things: it brings in one of the oldest heroes in the Marvel U (Nick Fury) and not only makes him relevant, but shows that he's actually ahead of the curve. There are elements of Battlestar Galactica, here, there are elements of Lost here--and yet it manages to not feel like a knock off. Instead, it feels like a refreshing look at the history of the Marvel Universe--we, like Nick Fury, have our eyes opened to something that has been going on for a very long time.

Here's what Comic Book Resources has to say about issue 1:

"There's a ... when they ... wow. Look, something happens at the end of this issue that's either the stupidest thing Marvel has done in years, or the single most shocking revelation to hit comics in an even longer period of time. First there's the much previewed throwdown, which showcases Quake's character (loving the stronger female characters in Marvel's book these days) and makes for a good fight scene. Plus you get some of Nick Fury's Lessons in Espionage, an interesting XBox session with the adolescent god of fear, a meeting in the Oval Office ... and then that surprise. The Jonathan Hickman-specific backup pages -- straight from SHIELD's old AUTOFAC data storage/remote mainframe detailing secrets of organizations that are both grandiose and borrow the aesthetics of the TV show "Lost" (multinational organizations of great secrecy, secret bases with code names like The Sandbox, The Dragon, Black Ice and Gehenna) that provide seeds for tons of future stories. The sheer informational density of this issue makes it a value, and each fan will have to decide for themselves if the game has been changed forever or if Marvel has finally, completely gone too far. Either way, this will not be an issue that will leave you quickly, as this secret will have you mentally re-examining things that happened years and years back in a whole different light"


Even better? There's viral marketing for the thing (which you know I'm a sucker for): check this out Agent of Nothing dot com. This little darling is blurring of the boundaries between our world and the Marvel U in that it mimicks hacking into Fury's own computer files. Different passwords that are leaked in various places get you different data. (For some reason, though, the site isn't working anymore--likely reflected by the events of the narrative--but you can still get the content by adjusting the urls, adding what used to be the codewords as subpages of the main page:

eagleeye

revolution

scorpio

secretwar

gehenna

blackice

Here's the CBR article from January with previews, if you're interested.

Here is Hickman from last year talking about the series.

Here is Hickman's own website.

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