Battles Of Free Comic Book Day Round Three is an all-Marvel affair, with the Guardians of the Galaxy hoping to cash in on their movie fame against the controversial Secret Empire with its Hydra-loving Captain America.
With two very different target markets, both are representative of Marvel’s current output. Interestingly, both also have backup features. Guardians features The Defenders, while Secret Empire features Spider-Man, but will these features help or hinder them?
Oh, and before anybody forgets, this Secret Empire issue is the one which one fan allegedly screamed about when they viewed it. If the stories are to be believed, this response was so powerful that Marvel and the entire world fell apart in horror at how mind-bogglingly wrong it was. But how bad could it be, and will Guardians deliver a knock-out blow to it?
This is the tale of how the Avengers lost. In fact, not only do they lose but they’re absolutely obliterated by Captain America and his Hydra cronies. Well, except for the ones who get turned to the dark side. And yes, in one of the worst-kept secrets in comic book history, Captain America raises the hammer of Thor over his head. Meanwhile, the backup story has Spider-Man battling his old foe the Vulture. But in a battle of young vs. old, Spidey soon learns that he’s not as youthful as he once was…
Like much of Secret Empire, both the writing and art knock this one out of the park. The hubris of Marvel’s superheroes is knocked out of them, and it all adds to the big picture in a powerful way. Is it truly that horrific though? No. Also, in a great move, the Spider-Man story is a real gem. While there are some comedy clunkers amongst all the one-liners, it also displays a light, sly tone of self-awareness that could make Spider-Man a real hot pick for the future.
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy:
It seems like everything with Guardians lately has been a real whirlwind. With the new film now out, Marvel’s marketing machine is in overdrive and it’s almost overwhelming. Granted, the film really is deserving of the credit it gets and it’s great to see it do well, but it seems like you can’t go anywhere lately without seeing something Guardians-related. When even Ford EcoSport is pumping out a Guardians tie-in comic, you know things are going overboard.
That being said, this isn’t a bad comic. But, strangely, not because of the Guardians. Sure, that part is okay, but it was the Defenders backup feature which saved what was essentially a let-down. After an amazing new trailer for the upcoming show, the release of this feature was well timed. It’s also setting up a great-looking comic book in its own right, as the Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil and Jessica Jones all come under fire for their vigilante exploits. In just a handful of pages, it gets everything right.
Guardians may rule on the big screen, but the comic was a bit flat, except for the Defenders backup. Meanwhile, Secret Empire again hits all the right notes and seems capable of doing no wrong – except for upsetting some fans. With the excellent Spider-Man backup as well, this was clearly the best Marvel book on offer this Free Comic Book Day.