Round 1, Battle 3
SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #1
“Blessed are the nerds, for they shall inherit the earth.â€ -Matthew 5:5
We are living in a world that would have been inconceivable 20 years ago. Nerds/nerd culture has gone from the physical representation of what it meant to be uncool to the complete and utter domination of every single cultural medium, from industry (the tech industry in Silicon Valley,) to fashion and pop culture. It is officially hip to be square. Kids now wear glasses to look cooler (Where was this trend when I was in middle school? I missed this crap by a decade. ) Nerdiness has become such a desirable attribute, it is practically a currency by which people now evaluate social value. Only the outcasts at the office can’t talk at length about what is going on in Westeros in an age where every blockbuster movie is about superheroes.
But what is a nerd, exactly? Is it a generational shift in style? Is it something more? Thankfully, self-professed super nerd Patton Oswalt did the world a favor and defined what it means to be a nerd. According to Oswald, being a nerd simply means being a die hard-fan of something. Being a nerd means giving yourself over to a fandom. A nerd dedicates a lot of time to learning about and admiring a specific art outside of him or herself. So much so that this nerd feels like he or she has a stake in the thing that he/she loves–that enjoying whatever it is that this fan enjoys it is essential to who they are as a human being. This person reaps real value from their identity as a fan. In a way, nerds are art lovers.
Comic books have always been an attractive medium for nerds. The world of comic books lends itself very well to fandom. From what I can tell, this is because most comics are written and drawn by fans, for fans. It is also a system that rewards fans for loyalty and dedication to various houses, universes, and story lines. Marvel’s Battleworld Battleworld series is the ultimate culmination for the “just for fans” fans , the ones already hooked on the drug. This is because this series relies on readers who have prior knowledge of story lines, who already have strong loyalties to characters, writers, inkers, etc. This also means this bracket is going to piss a lot of people off and incur more hate mail than any single one of us has ever gotten combined.
But not so fast, nerds. These brackets aren’t about fandom. This isn’t about who’s the better character between Thor or Spiderman. This bracket isn’t about any story that came before. Nor is this bracket a platform for the writers to show off who has the superior knowledge of the 616, Ultimate Universes or Multiverse. What this bracket is about is what comic told a better story in 22 pages. In this round, Secret Wars: Battleworld told the better story.
There are thousands of characters in the Marvel multiverse, which means there are could potentially be thousands of characters here. How often are we going to sit back and take a minute with any of them? Secret Wars: Battleworld seems like it could be a crap shoot, as we’ll probably get different creators with each story, but for this story – for this one particular issue – we get to spend two nice, tiny moments with two (horribly un)nice characters. I don’t know why the Punisher has the powers of Stephen Strange, and I don’t know why M.O.D.O.K. is going through such a family crisis. Maybe I’ll find out later. But for know, I can sort of see the world through these sets of eyes, a world that is horribly messed up for them, and horribly confusing for us, as readers. And for the rest of the event, every time the Punisher and M.O.D.O.K. pop up, I’ll think “Oh yeah. These guys. I spent a moment with them earlier.” It was a well written, well thought out moment, and I can relate to them more than the rest of the jamokes in this wacky comic book.” That’s not a thought you will have often in your life, so hold on to it while you can.
The story out of the first issue of the Spider-verse is a lot more scattered. The issue bites off more than it can chew by introducing too many characters without getting in depth with any of them. This leaves the reader feeling rushed, confused. It is one thing to write a story with characters that are already well established. It is another thing to utilize characters with established histories and then forget to tell a story. That is exactly what the Spider-verse fails to do: tell a story. For this reason, Battleworld: Secret Wars moves on to round 2!!