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The Pulse #6

Posted: Monday, November 22, 2004
By: Shawn Hill



ďSecret War: Part 1Ē

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Brent Anderson

Publisher: Marvel

Plot: Incomprehensible. Itís another case of onslaught first, story later from Bendis, as Jessica is assaulted by Wolverine, and then flashes back to rushing to the hospital with Luke after his attack (in Secret War, the series).

Comments: I think Iíve read this story four times now. I mean in four different comics. Luke getting injured, and lying in the hospital, unable to be treated. Heís still not any better, after all these months. One story for the price of four is not a good deal. Events in Secret War repeat in ďSecret War,Ē only now we see them from Jessicaís panicked perspective (i.e., not from the seasoned professionals aware theyíre under attack - if not why - from the mini-series, but from an admitted failure as a hero whose major mode of coping is panic and rage).

Whatís interesting: This is in itself not a bad thing. Jessicaís perspective right away grounds this story in a verisimilitude that the Avengersí ďChaosĒ storyline lacked, as her panic and worry and anguish is quite reasonable, and she even takes time out to ask for help (smart)and to help someone else (nice) when things start exploding at the hospital.

Brent Anderson is also a fine choice to work with Bendis; both creators tend towards naturalism, towards depicting people who look and sound real, imperfect, awkward. I understand the scenes from Secret War much better under Brentís pencils. It wasnít until this issue I realized the explosion came from inside Lukeís apartment (I thought it was a missile of some sort from above); and a rageful Cap backhanding Nick Fury is somehow much more poignant the second time around.

Less interesting: However, the inking is horribly rushed, looking like a bad pastiche of Tom Palmer at his murkiest. That Adams-esque quality Anderson can achieve is lost amidst all the sketchy black masses, and thereís a copious amount of self-swiping and repeated panels here that donít help the story (Gaydos over-does this technique for Bendis, too: is it something he specifies in the scripts?). Itís not a mystery when you canít see your assailant for an entire issue; itís just confusing.

Also way out of left field is the opening sequence with Wolverine, the only connection in the book to Mayhewís threatening cover. Itís a wonderful slice of something, but itís far too brief and uninformative to connect with the rest of the story in any clear way.

Diagnosis: I donít buy the severity of Lukeís injuries, either. Jessica just survived an explosion in this series in the Osborne attack, baby intact, but Luke has inoperable injuries from a percussive blast? I donít think his power is as simple as really tough skin; that nutrient bath of whatever strengthened him all the way through. And that was a purposeful attempt to make a metahuman; yet Jessica, whose ultra-lame origin involves an accidental dousing in chemicals, is somehow stronger? It reads as another case of Bendis seeing powers as a curse, and itís a stretch when he just had this character toss a limousine around effortlessly.

Prognosis: This second arc is starting off poorly. Bendis needs to pick up the pace (and stop milking his own other projects, especially quarterly ones that already emerge at a snailís pace) if he hopes to equal the first arc after this rocky beginning. And somebody get Anderson an inker!



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