Review by Frank Plowright
Whenever Marvel now have an event series it’s accompanied by associated product that ties in, intended to offer greater insight into moments that the parent series hasn’t the space to investigate. In reality, these projects are also sink or swim tryouts for creators relatively new to Marvel, with the occasional known name contributing a look at a character they’ve been associated with in the past. Here it’s Fabian Nicieza. With Hydra taking over the world, how is Bob the Hydra agent from his old Deadpool series doing? As ineptly as ever, as it happens. Wilfredo Torres also has high profile work on his CV already, and his art for Simon Spurrier’s Blade appearance cements a nice package.
It’s unlikely anyone’s going to read Brave New World without at least having an awareness of the Secret Empire plots, but if so, there are no concessions. In short page counts there’s no room to explain why New York is in perpetual darkness or why some superheroes are trapped outside an impenetrable force field enveloping Earth, so you’ll have to take that for granted.
Due to limited pages requiring a disciplined short story it’s far easier for the artists to impress than the writers, and allowing for this being their early work needing a little polish, there are some here who’re going to be very good. Alex Arizamendi on a Misty Knight story has a great set of viewpoints mixing design and cartooning, and Diego Olotegui on a Giant Man solo stands out as well, with writer Jeremy Whitley having the right balance of humour and action. Also very impressive is Kate Niemczyk although that’s on a weaker story.
The longest piece is ‘Sanctuary’, Paul Allor’s opening game of thrust and counter thrust under the seas in Atlantis. Namor has decided where he stands regarding Hydra taking over the USA and won’t be turned. In some ways its a clever piece, the foundation being Namor’s hubris and certainty, and for fans with a long memory Allor contrives a nice reunion, as far as possible, but a plot whose entire point is to have Namor admit he’s wrong doesn’t have the greatest resonance. Brian Level turns in some nice page designs, but his loose style and strange faces don’t entirely work until it drops into place that he’s trying to be too clever by using the undersea water as a distortion filter.
As an entertaining collection this is fare more satisfying reading experience that the similarly themed United We Stand. Most writers have settled on a character, a situation or a moment not covered in the main series to produce a readable story, and you’ll be surely be seeing more work from several of the artists soon.