Secret Warriors #2
Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Javier Garron and Israel Silva
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Marvel’s Inhumans problem has been ongoing, but Secret Warriors looks poised to do something that no other book or event title could: actually make the Inhumans likable. I should be clear - there has historically been some fine work done with those characters, and Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s Black Bolt is off to a promising start. However, outside of the Royal Family, it’s been hard to get excited about a group of characters that generally play as, well, more boring X-Men. But even with the zeitgeist against them, writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Javier Garron prove that there is no such thing as a bad character if you can find a way in. By bringing Daisy Johnson back to her Secret Warrior roots and surrounding her with characters that consistently challenge her for different reasons, Rosenberg and Garron are giving this team a unique angle on the events playing out in Secret Empire.
Quake, Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur, Karnak, Ms. Marvel, and Inferno aren’t exactly a who’s who of A-list characters in the Marvel universe, but they each bring something unique to the table. Quake’s leadership is key to keeping this ragtag group of misfits together and that proves to be a pretty tall order. Moon Girl consistently acts like she knows better. Ms. Marvel is altruistic, maybe to a fault. Karnak’s characterization is a lot lighter than we’ve seen in the past, bypassing “warrior monk” for a more “mystic uncle” vibe. And Inferno is the headstrong young buck who tries his best but doesn’t do anything exactly right. The dynamics of the cast give Rosenberg a lot of room for humor and the roadtrip nature of the narrative at this point allows that to shine through.
The focus is really on those characters, though. While the plot is juxtaposed with a look at the world at various points surrounding the Hydra takeover, that serves to underline where the cast is coming from. Daisy has taken it upon herself to fix this and she’s not about to let anyone get in her way. But the humor in the script points to something more. On some level, this is a suicide mission and that’s an uncomfortable reality that they have to face. It might be completely insane for these characters to think they can really enact change against Hydra’s regime, and we see that play out here. They don’t even do a great job against Dum Dum Dugan’s Howling Commandos - the Masters of Evil, they ain’t. In fact, they almost lose someone altogether - not the best look when you’re trying to save the world.
Javier Garron and Israel Silva really sell this book. By deftly balancing the humor and the action present in the script, they’re making something really special here. Garron’s linework plays almost like a Tradd Moore-lite (who has provided some excellent covers for this series), while his expression work takes the kineticism of Humberto Ramos and molds it into something more consistent but still effective. There’s a lot of space for Garron to play. Whether he’s drawing Daisy and Ms. Marvel asleep in the car or Devil Dinosaur throwing down against Orrgo, Garron’s world of story is so complete and fully realized that he can bounce around in terms of tone without ever losing momentum or impactfulness. Silva’s coloring maintains the switch between muted tones for anything that’s happening in the past and the brighter reds and oranges of the present. But the Howling Commandos do present a bit of an issue for the color composition of the pages. The dark greens of Man-Thing and a couple other members of the team do tend to muddy up some pages.
But overall, Secret Warriors is a complete package. Rosenberg’s writing is witty and fun while never losing sight of the stakes of the plot. Garron’s art helps the jokes and characterization in the script land while also providing strong visual storytelling. This iteration of the team has a lot in common with another group of misfits that came together in the wake of an event: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s a sense that this squad has everything on the line, and they’re going to stop at nothing to complete their mission, even if it means they’ll die trying. Secret Empire might not be for everyone, but Secret Warriors might just be the reason is was all worth it.