It is a new America, one that secures peace through strength! You will obey and you WILL read this event tie-in anthology book, Secret Empire: Brave New World #1! It doesn’t matter if it’s good!!! But is it?
Writer: Paul Allor, Jeremy Whitley, Nick Kocher
Artist: Brian Level, Diego Olortegui, Tana Ford
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Like many of these anthology books, Secret Empire: Brave New World #1 is broken into three separate (but unequal) parts. The first story will continue throughout the five-issue mini-series, while the others are self-contained one-offs. Shame it’s not the other way around.
Well, I shouldn’t say that. The creative team of Uncanny Inhumans #1.MU returns for part one of “The Invaders,” featuring Namor, Toro and the original Human Torch, and they turn in a much better effort than in that previous book. So the event tie-in is doing exactly what it should — providing less-heralded creators a chance to get their Marvel feet wet and hone their skills, without much of a monetary risk.
In particular, writer Paul Allor establishes himself as someone to watch, as he gets Namor’s voice down pat and effectively plays with the fascist conceit, showing how it can spread once it starts. Artist Brian Level’s facial expressions actually seem to take a step backward, but his landscapes (seascapes?) are beautiful and have a hard-to-accomplish, three-dimensional quality. The smudginess from Inhumans persists, though, but it’s unclear if that’s on Level or colorist Jordan Boyd.
Unstoppable Wasp‘s Jeremy Whitley starts off slow in “Mile Hydra,” catching the reader up on where Raz Maholtra, the new Giant-Man, has been lately, even hearkening back to Nick Spencer’s Astonishing Ant-Man. It seems to miss the point of being a tie-in at first, but the story actually ends up being kind of a brilliant use of continuity to get Giant-Man where he’s going and to show us a little bit about him. The pencils by Diego Olortegui and the colors by Andy Troy are more standard superhero than what’s seen in “Invaders,” but there is one great, unusual panel that really feels ripped from a news broadcast and could elicit a legitimate gasp.
So clearly we needed the funny side of fascism to close out! Artist Tana Ford and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg don’t deviate too much from the style in “Mile Hydra,” but there are some nice sight gags in “Propagandamonium,” which centers on a newscaster forced to spread the “good” word of his new overlords. The story by Nick Kocher is really just an excuse for a gratuitous Gwenpool cameo, but it works, as bat monsters arguing about the quality of scientific studies could produce some genuine laughs.
Books of this type are a mixed bag, and you take the good with the bad, but they’re almost always superfluous. Most are nice if you really want to get immersed in the big story’s setting, but not relevant enough to change the overall narrative. Secret Empire: Brave New World #1 is similar in that the world doesn’t turn on its events, but it’s enjoyable and well enough done to be that rarest of things that perhaps could only be brought about by a brutally efficient regime — an event tie-in anthology book that’s actually worth the cost.