Round 2 Battle 9
KORVAC SAGA (#1-2)
This battle pits the two kinds of stories Secret Wars has been telling against one another. They’re spitting fire and going for the throat. They’re drinking ice water, and then spitting that ice water in each other’s eyes. It’s weird how they’re mirroring their opponents movements, and weirder still how the crowd loves it. Especially spit in the eyes… that kind of gross tomfoolery hasn’t been allowed in any other fights since the 1927 Accords. But this is Battleworld Battleworld and anything goes. Except nothing below the belt, because come on!
The only way I fight.
In 1872 we have a genre-specific re-imagining of our beloved characters, as Sheriff Steve Rogers fights for some sort of justice in a cruel western world ruled by Mayor Fisk and Governor Roxxon. In the other corner, The Korvac Saga fleshes out the relationships and strains of Battleworld as Michael Korvac and Wonderman play political mind games as rulers of neighboring kingdoms, while dealing with a virus that shows the infected the truth behind Doom’s creation, and then turns them into giant fucking monsters.
What both books do right is care as little as possible about what’s going on Secret War. There are insular stories here, and the creative teams on both sides are obviously trying to play in the sandbox this event has created, rather than push against said sandbox or just scream the definitions of the sandbox. They’re also trying to avoid looking at the kid who’s obviously playing with catshit he found in the sandbox. The Korvac Saga mentions the bigger picture more than 1872 (which ignores it completely), but that’s not a mark against it, even though most of us here at PopFilter tend to bitch about the forced tie-ins. But that’s what’s so great about this book– instead of sitting around explaining how crazy Battleworld is – Abnett, Shmidt, and Co. use the current state of affairs to steadily increase the tension and raise the drama. Doomgod and his punishments are brought up, but in a way that shines a light on how powerless even those in power are. While Korvac and Wonderman are swinging their dicks and their super-teams at each other, their kingdoms are going to shit and both could be obliterated if they don’t fix it. While there’s potential (this turns into yet ANOTHER series where certain characters realize the truth and try to fight against Doom), right now the status quo is to ignore that truth completely and fix the problem that’s staring them in the face. And while they do that, the book gets to explore the pressures of leadership, the dangers of ego, and the celebrity that comes with politics (and how that can all hinder actual ruling). That’s in two fucking issues, kids.
It’s always just about popularity.
Over in 1872, Duggan, Virella and pals aren’t interested Doomgod OR in digging into the repercussions of high status modern politics. They’re just a bunch of Western fans that think it’d be cool to see Tony Stark and Steve Rogers take the reins that formerly belonged to Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood. And they’re totally right. There’s an elegance to the simplicity of this story. And while it’s one you’ve seen a thousand times in a thousand ways and parodied a thousand times over, it’s a classic tale of good sheriff against the bad leaders above him. They even manage to throw a couple of twists and turns that you wouldn’t expect. Without getting into too much detail, it’s rare to see John Wayne take the Drew Barrymore role in a movie.
Like this. But with a cowboy hat.
Even though on the first read 1872 won me over more than Korvac, it’s an unfair fight. The Western book makes “aim small, miss smallâ€ its motto, and does; the political-contagion story swings for the fucking trees, so it has some missteps. There’s far more clunkiness in Korvac, because it’s trying to do something so much more ambitious than its opponent. Critiquing society is usually handled by the indie funny books, not the Big Two, and never during the fucking blockbuster summer event. That’s when everything get’s thrown in a blender and we get to stare at the splatter on the walls. While both books are thoroughly enjoyable, The Korvac Saga moves on because it (fairly) subtly slipped some kale and spinach into that blender and pulls it off while juggling a cast of a couple dozen brightly colored faces.-MG