ROUND 1, BATTLE 21
GUARDIANS OF KNOWHERE
Battleworld Battleworld, Schmattleshmorld Schmattleshmorld, I say. In yet another powerhouse battle, Hail Hyrda is forced to wield its proverbial sword and S.H.I.E.L.D. (do you see what I did there?!) against the sword and shield of Guardians of Knowhere. Both books are a tantalizing appetizer to the remainders of the act ones to come; yet both are not without flaw. What is a pop culture aficionado to do? I guess, as the very famous phrase goes, I’ll just type it out.
Hail Hydra follows Nomad, a dude who can’t quite fully commit to being good because a nostalgic part of his past is tied to evil where Guardians of Knowhere has that wisecracking raccoon from that summer film with the guy from Parks and Recreation. Both books follow the story of a character that cannot get away from their potentially morally corrupt background, as that has become a part of who they are. Even with that, each book’s character must try to find a way to champion their own morality over the past they can no longer reconcile. So which book wore it best?
The answer to this question is harder than you might assume. To begin, Guardians of Knowhere presupposes a deeper knowledge of its subject matter. Do you not understand why this raccoon declares that someone’s face has been murdered? Get out of town, says Guardians of Knowhere. By comparison, Hail Hydra gives you all of the pertinent data in the first two-page explanation of the dissolution of the 616 and gives you easily digestible chunks of story thereafter. This sounds like a slam-dunk win for Hail Hydra, but the reasons why are not.
Hail Hydra takes a deep look into the inner workings of Nomad’s mind. Why is he so hell-bent on helping a stranger? Where does his, for lack of a better term, hero complex come from? Who is Zola? All of this is taken care of in a way that seems so easy to understand that you get duped into believing it is not thoughtful. Make no mistake; Nomad is, if only his own mind, the son of Steve Rogers. He cannot be evil. He cannot stand idly by and do nothing while Hydra destroys his beloved city. When faced with the fact that, in an alternate reality, he has given in to his biological predisposition, his reaction is drawn to startling perfection by Roland Boschi. The fact that an artist is able to draw shock, disgust, horror and pathos in a single cell is mind-blowing. Ultimately, it is the reason that the scales tip in Hail Hydra’s favor.
Please do not misunderstand me; Guardians of Knowhere is a stellar book that is absolutely worth your time. It’s funny, sharp and finds a way to toe the line between “this is shit Marvel said we had to doâ€ and “this is some dope shit we think Marvel should have been excited aboutâ€. Truly, Brian Michael Bendis is one of the best writers working today. That said, his wit, humor and biting commentary are all wasted on an otherwise good book. He was not necessarily a casualty of his assignment so much as his assignment refused let him to unleash his awesome power.
That’s right Filterinos, Hail Hydra moves on over an extremely worthy Guardians of Knowhere. In a battle as awesome as it was challenging, the ability to meld story, art and dialogue make Hail Hydra a deep round sleeper to make this tournament its bitch.
Jason R. Noble