This week we take a look at the start of Marvel’s Secret Wars tie-in book A-Force, and watch Swamp Thing take on vampires in Convergence: Swamp Thing #2!
A-Force #1 (Marvel Comics)
A-Force is easily the most anticipated (and hyped) Secret Wars crossover. Featuring a team of all female Avengers, the Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson scripted series has every single female member of the Marvel universe teaming up, but before you go grabbing this book thinking it’s the start of the next big team in the Marvel Universe, you should probably read the first two issues of Secret Wars first. A-Force ties into the event heavily, so much so that I get the feeling that the new readers Marvel has been pitching this series to might be turned off by it.
However, this doesn’t mean A-Force is a bad comic. In fact, it’s actually one of the stronger Secret Wars tie-ins. Wilson and Bennett’s plot revolves around Arcadia, a mysterious island hidden from most of Battleworld . Like DC’s Amazon Island, Arcadia is home to all of the female heroes of the Marvel Universe. Over seen by She-Hulk, the baron of Arcadia (again, read Secret Wars before you read this), many of the super-powered citizens go out on routine patrols, with our main crew for this issue being Captain Marvel, Dazzler, Miss America, and Nico from Runaways. When one of the daily patrols finds the guardians of Arcadia dealing with a Megalodon Shark attack, Miss America throws the creature over their border, setting into motion a series of events that finds her exiled by Doom, the king of Battleworld.
If you liked what you saw in Secret Wars’ second issue, then you’ll enjoy A-Force a lot. Wilson and Bennett delve head first into the intricacies of living in Doom’s world, and you get a great sense of how many of the citizens of Arcadia feel about She-Hulk’s place as their Baron. The duo also has a fantastic handle on the many characters that populate A-Force. Each characters sounds like they usually do within the Marvel universe, but are also changed by being citizens of Battleworld.
Jorge Molina handles A-Force’s art, and it is fantastic. From the book’s opening splash page of Captain Marvel leading her squad on patrol to Loki raging against She-Hulk for allowing Miss America to be banished, Molina’s art steals the show. A-Force was already worth a look to see the inner workings of Battleworld, but in all honesty Molina’s art makes it a must-buy.
As great as A-Force is, I can’t help but wonder if its heavy ties to Secret Wars might hurt it’s chances of reaching a wide audience. While that’s no fault of G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett, or Jorge Molina, you have to wonder sometimes what Marvel’s exact plan is with books like these. However, Wilson has already announced that A-Force will survive past Secret Wars. If it keeps this same creative team after the event, then it’ll definitely be book to look out for.
Convergence: Swamp Thing #2 (DC Comics)
There are a few things that will make me instantly buy a comic without flipping though it, and Convergence: Swamp Thing #2 has two of those things: Red Rain Batman and artwork by Kelly Jones. Yes, not only does the second Swamp Thing Convergence tie-in features the Batman from the Batman/Dracula: Red Rain Elseworlds universe, it also features art by that classic story’s artist. Plus, it also features a script by Len Wein, the man who created Swamp Thing!
Convergence: Swamp Thing #2 picks up immediately after the events of the first issue, with Swamp Thing preparing to do battle with a pack of bloodthirsty vampires. The vampire universe’s Batman soon aids him, and the two lay waste to their undead enemies. Foregoing the fact that they are supposed to fight for the fate of their universes, Batman requests Swamp Thing’s help in destroying the Vampire Queen that started the terrible takeover of his city. What follows is some awesomely dark and moody vampire hunting action, and a surprisingly touching (if unsurprising) ending.
Len Wein’s script is excellent for this issue, probably because it’s extremely simple. Wein spent much of the last issue setting up the previous history for Swamp Thing, and with that out of the way he’s able to get right into the thick of things with the vampires and Batman. Hell, he even makes it so you can just buy this issue by including a “previously in” full-page recap (something that would’ve helped a lot of the Convergence titles, in my opinion). Wein’s take on this particular version of the Dark Knight is spectacular, even if he does take up more time in Swamp Thing’s book than old Swampy does.
As great as Wein’s script is, the real star of this book is Kelly Jones. I’ve missed his art for a long time, and he definitely makes a killer comeback here. Jones’ art may not be to everyone’s liking, but I absolutely love it, and it looks incredible in Convergence: Swamp Thing. No one draws Batman quite like him, and while many artists’ styles tend to decay over time, Jones’ art looks just as good here as it did in the original Red Rain series.
There have been a lot of Convergence tie-ins, and many of them have been pretty good to pretty terrible. But don’t let that prevent you from grabbing Convergence: Swamp Thing. This is the gold standard of what the tie-ins for this event should’ve been: well written, beautifully drawn, and fun. I was having such a blast reading this that I want a Len Wein/Kelly Jones Swamp Thing series, or better yet, the two of them on Batman title set in the Red Rain universe. While that probably won’t happen, at least I’ve got this spectacular issue.