It’s the third pulse pounding installment of the Secret Warriors; from the creative team of Mathew Rosenberg, Javier Garrón and Israel Silva.
The Secret Warriors, a randomly collected team of Inhumans fleeing the forces of Hydra in the midst of the Secret Empire event, had been heading West, hoping to reach the Mutant nation of Tian. Karnak believes a mysterious Inhuman is living among the Mutants who may prove essential if the Warriors are to have any hope of defeating Hydra.
Crossing over onto the sovereign soil of Tian, the Warriors are immediately stopped by an impressive group of Mutants and former X-Men. This includes The Beast, the older Hank McCoy, who at one point had been a close ally of The inhumans of New Attilan.
The Mutants are not looking for a fight, yet they will not allow these Inhuman to cross further into Tian; it is their home, their nation, and allowing these wanted felons in could upset their tenuous treaty of non-conflict with Hydra.
The Inhuman Karnak has the team searching for is named ‘Leer.’ It is not someone the mutants are familiar with and they are unwilling to give the Warriors permission to venture further into Tian to search for this individual.
Meanwhile, there is a good deal of passive-aggressive and aggressive-aggressive banter between the two teams. After all that had happened with the Terrigen Cloud and the subsequent war between the inhumans and Mutants, The Mutants have little in terms of sympathy for the dire situation that the Inhuman peoples are in. Ms. Marvel (normally more even-headed and the last person one would suspect to start a hero on hero fight) has had enough and slams a giant hand forward that slams the mutant (and former X-Force and NextWave member) Boom Boom to the ground.
Before a full fledged battle can go down, a earthquake-like tremor causes a large fissure to crack open in the ground, separating the two teams. At first Inferno assumes it was Daisy who did this, but it was actually Rictor, a Mutant (and former member of X-Force and The Fallen Angels) who has powers similar to those of Quake.
The Warriors agree to leave and are escorted out of Tian by the Mutant’s specialized Blackbird jet. Yet it turns out to be a feint and Daisy fires a seismic blast that crashes the jet allowing the Warriors to escape and trek further into Tian.
Somehow, Karnak knows exactly where to go and leads the team to an underground laboratory hidden away near the border. There they find The Dark Beast, an alternate reality version of Hank McCoy who is quite evil. The Dark Beast has been utilizing all of the chaos brought about by the Secret Empire to continue his experiments, dissecting both Mutant and Inhuman subjects alike.
The Warriors capture him and Karnak and Quake take him into an adjacent chamber to interrogate/torture him. Ms. Marvel is absolutely dismayed that her teammates would stoop to such measures and she tries to stop it. Daisy argues that these are desperate times requiring desperate measures; and if she cannot stomach it then she should quit.
Whatever terrible things Quake and Karnak have done to The Dark Beast it is enough to get him to talk and they learn that this mysterious Leer had been in Tian, but has since been captured and taken away by Hydra.
Before the team has time to process this disappointing knows, they are sieged by a large group of Mutants (those who they had encountered earlier plus reinforcements). The Beast (the real one) was not aware that his Dark self had this lab, nor the diabolical experiments he had been conducting. The Mutants are somewhat grateful that The Warriors had found the matter out; and foe this they are willing to let the Warriors leave in peace.
Leaving Tian, the Warriors are without a plan and are as far away from being a cohesive team as ever. Ms. Marvel is still beside herself with anger and disappointment over Quake and Karnak’s conduct (this is just not what heroes do). Daisy has no patients for Ms. Marvel’s idealism and suggests she leave the team and return to Jersey. Before the conversation can go any further, their car is hit with rocket fire and overturned. The Warriors crawl out from the wreckage and find themselves face to face with a legion of Hydra soldiers. The Hydra force is led by Daisy’s father, the villainous Mr. Hyde.
‘Daughter,’ he states, addressing Daisy, ‘it is time we talked.’ And it is with this perilous cliffhanger that the issue comes to an end.
Each issue thus far has presented a series of interludes focusing on one of the team members. the first issue focused on Daisy, the second on Inferno and this issue focusing on Ms. Marvel. It shows Kamala during the early moments of Hydra’s take over. She looks on in horror as the entire island of Manhattan is encased in an impenetrable dome of DarkForce energy. Hydra troops them march into Jersey City and Ms. Marvel is primed to jump into the fray and get to work super-heroing.
Using her old Avengers com-link, Ms. Marvel contacts Iron Man. Iron Man basically tells her that the best she can do is lay low; she’s just a kid and what is occurring is a threat that is far too much for her. Ms. Marvel doesn’t take this advice and patrols Jersey City trying to figure out what she can do to help. There are far too many Hydra soldiers, far too heavily armed for her to take on her own and she’s forced to keep to the shadows. She does intercede when she sees a pair of resistance fighters preparing bomb to blow up a Hydra transport vehicle. She stops them, convincing them that going through with it would put too many innocent lives at risk. They are discovered by Hydra soldiers and have to flee. One of the would-be saboteurs is captured.
Later, back at the Khan household, a group Hydra soldiers knocks on the door and asks Kamala’s father if they have seen a specific young man. He’s a boy Mr. Khan knows as a neighbor and it turns out he was one of the youths who had tried to blow up that Hydra transport. Mr. Khan gives up no information, yet Kamala overhears the conversation and feels responsible for the kid who’d got caught as well as his coconspirator who is now being sought out.
Donning her Ms Marvel gear, Kamala ventures out again, hoping she can do something to makes things right. It turns out that the young man Hydra had captured broke under interrogation and gave up not only the name of his colleague, but also the location of a resistance safe-house. Inferno had been hiding out in this safe-house and this is how he had been captured.
Kamala can only look on from a distance and feel terribly guilty, as though this is all somehow her fault. Presumedly, Kamala’s feelings of guilt over the matter is what ends up motivating her to aide Daisy when she calls for her assistance (as shown in the first issue).
This third issues doesn’t have the exact same pizzaz as the second, but is still a fun read with lots of stand out moments and some very funny dialogue. On the surface, the tension is all about the uneasy feelings between the Warriors and the Mutants, but the undercurrent is more so the stark philosophical differences between Daisy and Kamala.
For Kamala, being a hero is about being good… always doing the right thing even when times are at their toughest. For Daisy, however, being a hero is about getting the job done by any means necessary. Daisy’s willingness to venture into a moral gray zone to accomplish her goals completely defies Kamala’s sensibilities… for her, there is no sense to fighting Hydra if they are going to be just as bad as Hydra is. The Dark Beast’s actions are detestable, yet aren’t they just as detestable for having tortured him for information?
Daisy has no time for Kamala’s black and white idealism; this is war and there can be no winning a war without getting one’s hands dirty. As far as Daisy is concerned, Kamala is essentially a liability to the team unless she can get her act together and start seeing this situation for what it truly is.
Personally, I think Daisy is correct here. The story entails the country being taken over by a nazi force; fighting back and doing so with he utmost of savagery is needed… it is the only choice. And yet I can still see Kamala’s point. There is no way of fighting this fight without sacrificing one’s own morals and principles. It’s no easy process, nor is it something that can be truly justified or rationalized away. The whole idea of a ‘just war’ is merely a cognitive trick that allows one to temporarily shelve their morals. As Saint Augustine of Hippo phrased it in Contra Faustum Manichaeum:
“They who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”
It’s a well-phrased and convincing argument, but is nonetheless little more than an eloquent form of cognitive dissonance. Sometimes violence is necessary, there can be no way around it. Yet morality will always be the first casualty and one needs to respect this and mourn for it respectively.
In either case, it is neat to see Daisy and Kamala as representatives of these dueling ideologies.
With IvX still so close in the rearview mirror, I wasn’t especially keen on seeing Inhumans and Mutants fighting, nor having the whole matter of who was right and who was wrong re-litigated on the page. And for this reason, I appreciate that Rosenberg’s script kept the conflict to a minimum.
It is difficult to bend my mind around the idea that The Mutants would stand idly by and allow what is happening in Secret Empire without getting involved. They have been given the nation of Tian as concession, an offering that they accepted in exchange for staying out of Steve Rogers’ way as Hydra took over the rest of the country. The whole idea of it seems absolutely antithetical to who The Mutnats, who The X-Men, are. Perhaps their acceptance of this offer was influenced by the Cosmic Cube. As it stands, these Mutants acting so out of character ended up making them seem a bit wooden in the story.
Javier Garrón and Israel Silva’s art is once more top notch. The action is fluid and dynamic and even the more just standing around talking scenes have an energy to them thanks to Garrón’s terrific ability to relay emotion through facial expression.
Silva’s color pallet matches the town of the story quite well; this was especially evident int he transition from the lush earth tones of the forest to the cold and sterile atmosphere of The Dark Beast’s lab.
a few notes:
- I recall reading that the Dark Beast had died in one of the final story arcs of Brian Micheal Bendis’ run on Uncanny X-Men.
- I am all about Rictor’s awesome porn-mustache; and love that Shatterstar appears to also grown a similar ‘stache.
- Is The Vision, Scarlet Witch and Deadpool now members of Hydra? How did this happen?
- Stan Lee once stipulated that he never wanted to see Reed Richards of The Fantastic Four use his stretching powers to extend his neck, suggesting that it was an unnerving visual and kind of took away from Richards’ sense of integrity. I can see where Lee was coming from in this regard. I didn’t much care for seeing Kamala stretch her neck in this fashion and would have rather that she stretch from the torso. Still, a minor nitpick.
- Lunella telling Magik that she’s acting like a super hero cliche was my favorite line.
- Rictor joking that Daisy’s powers are unoriginal was my second favorite.
- Who the heck is Leer?
All and all another great issue and definitely recommended. Three and a half out of Five Lockjaws.