SECRET WARS JOURNAL #1
Written by Prudence Shen and Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Ramon Bachs, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Luca Pizzari, Rain Beredo
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 20, 2015
Another of Marvel’s Secret Wars tie-ins, Secret Wars Journal is an anthology style comic featuring two 10 page stories from two creative teams. Since the release of its cover, drawn by Kevin Wada and featuring a 1602 style Kate Bishop, the hype surrounding this book has resulted in it being one of the more highly anticipated books to emerge from Secret Wars. Unfortunately, Secret Wars Journal #1 fails to live up to expectations.
The first of the two stories contained within Secret Wars Journal #1 is The Arrowhead, written by Pru Shen. It is a Kate Bishop focused, Young Avengers meets Robin Hood adventure that looks to be continued in Siege #1. Shen’s writing is witty and she quickly establishes a team dynamic that is reminiscent of Gillen and McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers. The story is fairly enjoyable but suffers due to its length, which could easily have gone on for more than the allotted 10 pages. In comparison the art feels a little inconsistent, with facial details changing from panel to panel and the bodies appearing oddly proportioned at times. That said, the attention to detail with regards to the costumes and architecture is incredible and Bachs’ Doom God Cathedral is beautiful. The colours, provided by Beaulieu are in perfect keeping with the 1602 setting and are highlighted with splashes of purple and green which do wonders to unify the artwork.
The second story, We Worship That Which We Do Not Understand, is an X-Men one-shot set against the back drop of Egyptia and follows a group of slaves who set out to kill the moon goddess Khonshu. Written by Matthew Rosenberg and with very little set up, readers may find that they feel they have dropped in half way through an already established narrative. As such, I found the story difficult to engage with. Similarly, the artwork and colour, from Luca Pizzari and Rain Beredo respectively, fit perfectly with the tone of the story, relying on tight details, heavy shading, and a muted palette to convey the darker aspects of the narrative but seemed to be filled with hints to plot points of which I was unaware.
The one thing I can’t help but notice is the way that the stories seem at odds with each other. With the exception of the fact that they are set within Battleworld there is nothing to tie them together and as such the book feels disjointed. While this does not doom the book, it does nothing to help.
The Verdict: 6.0/10
I’m still wondering what the difference is between this and the Battleworld series. They are both anthologies, and seem to do the same thing. If I had to guess I’d say this just deals with one Domain while the other title features crossover between domains? That’s all I can think of. It also feels like this is meant to give us glimpses into certain domains we won’t see much of anywhere else by dropping in on the lives of these characters. I enjoyed both stories here, but the second story made me wonder why even do it at all if that’s all we will see? At least the two stories in Battleworld helped setup other books in a way (Inferno & MODOK), and the 1602 story here helps setup Kate for Gillen’s Siege series (A-Force did the same with America). Egyptia seemed like a great idea with great art, but ultimately just made me want more which I’m not sure we are getting.