The 90’s called and they want their Super Team back!
I don’t even know where to begin with this convoluted mess. This is a Secret Wars book, so basically anything goes in this alternate universe. On the planet of Battleworld, there is a peaceful island nation called Arcadia, populated mostly by female superheroes. Each region in this unique planet is a domain unto itself, with distinct borders that must not be crossed, ruled by godlike Victor Von Doom and policed by Sheriff Strange and the Thors.
Arcadia is governed by She-Hulk, who is Baroness. Her patrol for watching their nation’s borders are Medusa, Dazzler, Captain America, Loki, America Chavez and Nico Minoru. When a huge prehistoric shark inexplicably attacks Arcadia, She-Hulk calls her team into action with her catchphrase “A-Force Assemble!” In the heat of the battle, the shark is thrown by one of the team members into another of the planet’s domains, which immediately prompts a visit by one of the Thors. This member is then exiled by Sheriff Strange, leading to dissent within the team. She-Hulk discovers there is a traitor in their midst when a portal that had sent the shark is discovered. When the traitor is revealed later, a hero loses her life keeping the Thors away, and the traitor portals zombies from yet another domain to attack Arcadia. The Baroness gets to yell “A-Force Assemble!” again, while all of Arcadia’s heroes fight for Arcadia’s future, and a brand new character shows everyone the extent of her powers.
The artwork is a mix of good and bad. First the good: Singularity is beautifully colored, and Loki is especially well drawn, with some fantastic details as emotions play over her face. The composite picture of five faces combined into one was striking, and I loved the variant art by different artists between the chapters. The so-so: the front cover, while awesomely drawn, is misleading. Singularity is drawn as a sexy adult, when she was quite clearly younger in the series, and other heroines are drawn in when they play little to no part in this storyline. The bad: some of the battle scenes had muddy coloring, as blobs of color were supposed to represent people in crowds.
Now for my many random observations and/or criticisms of this series: Pixie is shown as one of the heroes out on the original patrol, but then is dropped completely as a character- I don’t think she got a single line. Loved seeing so many of the Runaways after just reading the book– Nico as one of the main characters and then Molly, Karolina, Gert & Old Lace were shown in crowd panels. So many cameos- Jessica Jones defending Luke and their baby, Hulking & Hawkeye, Black Bolt with Medusa, Spider-Gwen & MJ, Kamala as Ms. Marvel (Wilson writes for the Ms. Marvel series), and Gambit with his arms around Rogue.
At my first read through I rolled my eyes at some of the plot, but on a second reading I discovered the little details and cameos that elevated this series for me at the end. I still believe the story was much too confusing, but at least it was FUN mess.