Guest Review: FCBD Secret Empire–Spider Man

This is a guest review done by my wonderful boyfriend and the mind behind The Figure in Question! He went with me to Free Comic Book Day and he’ll be reviewing the books he picked up.

Synopsis:

The Marvel Universe is under siege from the greatest threat it has ever known! Everything has been leading to this as Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino bring the entire Marvel Universe together for the highly-anticipated SECRET EMPIRE series! UNITED THEY STAND against a common foe, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Defenders, the Champions, the Inhumans, Spider-Man and more must hold together as an unwavering front! Yet even their combined might may not be enough to withstand the awesome power of Hydra! Then, after his globetrotting adventures Spider-Man has returned to his friendly neighborhood as Chip Zdarsky and Paulo Siqueira present a sneak peek at PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER MAN! A new companion series to the best-selling Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker is back in the Big Apple he’s brought the Ol’ Parker Luck with him! Don’t miss your first taste of this back-to-basics and high-flying ongoing series!

What I first Thought:

This was the only FCBD pick-up that I knew about prior to arriving at our local store.  I’ve been following the events of Nick Spencer’s Steve Rogers: Captain America series, which is a direct lead-in to this.  Since it’s a continuation of a story I’m already reading, I obviously wasn’t planning to just skip it.  The general public’s not too hot on the whole Hydra Cap thing, but I’ve been enjoying seeing where it’s been going, even the Steve Rogers presented here isn’t “my Steve Rogers.”  I had no real opinions one way or another on the second feature, which is a Spider-Man story, unrelated to the main story.  I like Chip Zdarsky’s work as a writer, though, so I’m intrigued.

Ratings:

Since there are two unrelated stories here, I’ll be examining them separately.  I’ll note Secret Empire with an “SE” and Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man with an “SM.”

Art: 3/5 (SE), 5/5 (SM)

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Andrea Sorrentino’s work, if I’m totally honest.  I mean, he’s got an interesting style, and he can layout a page well enough, but his work is always kind of murky and washed out.  Not my ideal choice for anything having to do with super heroes.  I personally would have preferred the interiors had been more consistent with Mark Brooks’s cover, which I feel is more on par with Marvel’s usual style.  With Sorrentino’s interiors, at times, it’s a little difficult to figure out what’s going on in any given panel, and I had some real trouble making out which characters were which.  On the plus side, as I noted before, the layouts are pretty strong and he’s clearly having fun working the Cap and Hydra iconography into the shapes of the panels.  He seems to get a bit more comfortable as the story progresses, and the final splash page is a good deal stronger than the first few pages.

On the flip side, Paulo Siqueira’s work on the Spider-Man story really appeals to me.  The work is really clean and easy to follow.  The characters are all very lively, and sport some of the best expression work I’ve see from any artist that’s not Kevin McGuire.  The line work is bold and easy to follow, and the panel layouts do a really nice job of conveying movement as Spider-Man and Vulture sweep through the skies of New York.  Siqueira delivers a very iconic take on Spider-Man, in the vein of John Romita, Sr. and Gil Kane, who are two of my favorite Spidey artists.

Story: 4/5 (SE), 5/5 (SM)

The SE story is pretty decent for what it is, but there’s a big caveat on “what it is.”  It’s not a whole story, nor is it a beginning or an end.  It’s right smack dab in the middle of everything; it’s the rising conflict that’s leading to the main climax that will be the Secret Empire mini-series.  There’s a quick, broad strokes recap of Civil War II and a little of Steve Rogers: Captain America, before kicking things off with Hawkeye being ambushed by some Hydra goons.  He’s rescued by Black Widow, who informs his “gonna miss the war.”  The rest of the story depicts the major Marvel heroes battling Hydra’s forces, climaxing with the arrival of the Hydra corrupted Steve Rogers.  The final splash page shows our heroes defeated, Cap standing over them, wielding a certain thunder god’s magical hammer, while the narration proclaims of Hydra “They were stronger.  They were more powerful.  In that moment—They were worthy.”  This final shot has been the cause of some contention amongst fans, who say it preaches an uncomfortable message of “might makes right.”  I personally see that uncomfortable message as an indicator that something’s off here.  Cap’s turn to Hydra was the result of the Cosmic Cube rewriting reality.  Recent story developments have amended that it was actually setting reality back on the correct path.  However, if Mjolnir is allowing Steve to wield it, perhaps this shows that Steve is supposed to be worthy enough to wield it, deep down, perhaps indicating that his true nature really is what we’ve been seeing all along.

Zdarsky’s Spider-Man story is a more complete tale.  There’s still a bit of a cliff-hanger (leading in to June’s Issue #1 of the series), but we get a fairly standalone little battle between Spidey and Vulture, as well as a quick lead-in conversation between Peter and MJ to help catch readers up to speed on where those two are.  The choice of Vulture as the primary antagonist is no doubt inspired by his presence in the upcoming movie, but it was still nice to see him sort of return to his routes, while still not completely backtracking.  We also see the introduction of the new Trapster, who I assume will be getting a larger role in the series proper.  Above all, I found Zdarsky’s dialogue to be very strong.  He’s got a good handle on Spidey’s quips and I even found myself laughing out loud once or twice.  I’ll definitely be grabbing the first issue of the main series when it hits.

Overall: 3.5 (SE), 5 (SM)

Details:

Title:  Secret Empire / Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man

Issue:  Free Comic Book Day

Publisher:  Marvel

Writer:  Nick Spencer (SE), Chip Zdarsky (SM)

Pencils:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE), Paulo Siqueira (SM)

Inks:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE), Walden Wong, Cam Smith, Jay Leisten, & Paulo Siqueira (SM)

Colors:  Andrea Sorrentino (SE),

Letters:  VC’s Travis Lanham

Release Date:  May 6, 2017

Pages:  28

Genre:  Super Hero, Action-Adventure, Marvel

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