Written by David F. Walker, Donny Cates
Art by J.J. Kirby, Marco Turini
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 3, 2015

Two more regions of Battleworld are explored as Walker, Kirby, Cates and Turini shed light on what some of the most famous of the Marvel heroes are up to in the Battleworld.

The first story in this issue is a team-up featuring Blade and Howard The Duck. An unlikely pair? Possibly, but a pair with fantastic chemistry when written by David F. Walker and penciled by J.J. Kirby. This one is a lot of fun, with a ton of attitude and some good ol’ vampire slaying. Walker brings some of the attitude from his work on Shaft to this quick tale, and it totally works for Blade. He writes Howard well, as well, and the two have a very Rocket Raccoon/Groot chemistry. J.J. Kirby’s art brings a lot of energy to the fun tale, and his duck characters look like they’ve been pulled from Darkwing Duck (and that is a massive compliment coming from me). His style suits the story very well and if a fill-in is ever needed on the Howard The Duck ongoing, Kirby has the chops to keep up with the kind of humour associated with Howard. I got some chuckles from this first story and I wouldn’t be sad if this unlikely duo teamed up again in the future.

The second story takes readers to Arcade’s Killiseum, a gladiator stadium akin to Roman times. Cates and Turini paint a much more bleak picture of Battleworld and the conditions for some heroes, especially if they are anywhere near Taskmaster. There is an interesting look at General Ross in this half of the issue, but much of it felt like a stereotypical gladiator story to me. We’ve got violence against the only female character in the story (why, I’m not sure – a poor storytelling decision in my opinion) and hardened warriors taking on the meanie. Mild spoilers, but some redemption for the character who is attacked by Taskmaster (Nico Minoru) would have gone a long way to redeeming this story that felt overly dark for what was actually exposed. The twist with General Ross assuming the role of a different, well established character mildly intrigued me, but if this story isn’t expanded upon, it was a very generic piece featuring a very tired cliche of violence against women that I wish would just go away. The art from Turini isn’t bad, though I wasn’t overly blown away by anything either. This is a dark tale and extremely violent, and Turini doesn’t hold back. It is as stark a contrast as you’ll find to the first story, which may have added to the jarring nature of the over the top violence.

As with any comic featuring two completely different stories, there’s a chance one will work and the other won’t. One of these worked for me and the other didn’t, so the score reflects this one as being a middle of the road issue on the whole. I’ll gladly take more work from the team of Walker and Kirby, as the fun leaped from the page in that story, but tired gladiator tales are just not something I’m into. It will be interesting to see if Ross becomes a larger player down the line, here’s hoping if he does there’s also some big moments for Nico.

The Verdict: 6.0/10


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