The War of the Realms tie-in trade paperbacks keep trickling in and this week New Agents of Atlas get their time in the sun. It’s Greg Pak’s introduction of sometimes new, sometimes classic Asian superheroes wrapped in an Agents of Atlas package.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
As Sindr, Immortal Queen of Muspelheim, and her legions of Fire Demons march on Asia, it’s time for a new band of heroes to unite to protect the Pacifi c Rim. Having brought together a ragtag team of heroes to defend the Earth from an alien invasion in the past, can Amadeus Cho reassemble his “protectors” – Shang-Chi, Silk and Jimmy Woo to save the world from incineration? And where is Kamala Khan? And just who are Crescent, Io and Luna Snow??? Featuring Marvel’s newest heroes from China, Aero and Sword Master, and a mysterious new Filipino heroine named WAVE!
Why does this matter?
It’s easy to forget one of the most powerful villains in War of the Realms was exclusively dealt with by this team. I’m talking about Sindr who is a god of fire and all that comes with it. She’s a powerhouse who has set her sights on taking over Seoul and Shanghai. With most of Earth’s superheroes occupied in New York it leaves this ragtag group of heroes the only thing in her way.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This collection opens on two brand new characters with impressive powers coming together by accident. They soon discover the War of the Realms has dropped on Earth and it’s not looking good. The story then cuts away to the heroes we’re more familiar with, like Amadeus Cho and Silk. They’re training and we soon learn their latest task is to be a fully functional team. Their time on the Champions, and other adventures by Greg Pak, haven’t made them as efficient as one might like. But a war like this one, with no warning, thrusts them into the adventure.
As the story pushes forward Pak does a good job showing how the dysfunction of the team is affecting how they do in the field. Many of these heroes are quite powerful, but without a good leader, they’re almost worthless. Cho is more or less the heart of this team and he comes through in leading by example more than once in the collection. Jimmy Woo doesn’t have powers, but it’s nice to see him with an ace up his sleeve partway in the story too. Shang-Chi, Silk, and the others all seem to get proper time to flex their powers and show us who they are here and there too. It’s good superhero team writing.
Sindr is, generally speaking, your typical diabolical villain, but where she shines is through her minions. Pak does a fantastic job writing these somewhat idiotic and natural soldiers. They’re just like us save for their burning flesh and it’s a fun element that keeps the book feeling light. In one scene after Sindr takes over Seol, we see two of them getting yelled at by a restaurant owner insisting they sit on aluminum foil. It’s moments like this in superhero comics that remind us it’s fun. Other scenes help bring the team together in bonding moments like when they all get excited after finding a ton of spam on hand. The feast lets them all connect in a real way.
The art is by Gang Hyuk Lim (with Moy R on #3 and Pop Mhan on #4), with colors by Federico Blee and together they do a lot of heavy lifting. I say this as the book is eclectic in its scenarios and characters on the page. From a cool robotic test bot to the various characters, settings, and villains, there’s a lot to see here. The team aspect is held strong due to the art’s ability to capture expressions and the subtle body language of certain characters. Silk, Ms. Marvel, and Amadeus Cho all look solid in their parts and it’s easy to see how their age is a factor. They’re still young.
This trade paperback comes with a hefty chunk of back matter which includes a letter by the Marvel Games heads, some character bios from the games, and finally 12 unlettered and uncolored pages from the first issue. It’s surprising to get all this considering Marvel doesn’t usually do extras with slimmer trades like this.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
For a lot of this book, you’ll feel like you’re playing catch up with these characters. Most of them we’ve only seen a couple of times and others not at all. Cho gets many more moments than most to develop which leaves you wanting. Like I said above, each character gets some moment to flex their powers and exhibit some character element, but they’re not dug into. This really isn’t a character study comic though but an event tie-in so I’m cool with that.
Is it good?
A solid tie-in that stands alone since the team is fighting in their own corner of the world against an entirely different threat. Check this out for a fun action frenzy tie-in and to get a little more acquainted with some of the coolest new heroes to join the Marvel universe.
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