The sinister machinations continue in this latest installment of the Secret Warriors, from the creative team of Mathew Rosenberg, Javier Garrón, Wil Robinson and Israel Silva.
The last issue saw The Warriors in pursuit of The Dark Beast, the evil Mutant who had abducted Inferno’s niece. They were aided in the mission by the former X-Man, Magik. By way of Magik’s ability to teleport, The Warriors were able to follow leads and eventually track down The Dark Beast’s liar, where they battled a horde of his patchwork monsters. The monsters were defeated and though the Warriors did not find Dante’s niece, they did locate a large number of abducted children fastened into strange stasis chambers.
This issue opens up with the team finishing up the task of returning these various children to their homes. Once more, Magik’s power of teleportation proves invaluable as she, Quake and Ms. Marvel crisscross the country, returning the children to their parents. Ms. Marvel keeps insisting on specifying that they weren’t the ones who abducted the children in the first place; which annoys Quake to no end in that it inadvertently makes them seem guilty.
Also, none of the children vomit after Magik’s jarring process of teleportation, which annoys Dante to no end because he always had and has a running bet with Quake that at least one of these kids will puke.
Back at the Beast’s former laboratory, Moon Girl has been studying what The Beast had been up to. She hasn’t found any leads regarding the location of Dante’s niece, but has discovered that each of the children the Beast had abducted were latent Inhumans whose Inhuman genes have yet to be triggered into bloom via Terrigenesis.
The narrative then shifts to the Ennilux Corporation headquarters where young Ahura is conducting a board meeting. Karnak enters the meeting asking for an allocation of funds; and in so doing outs one of the trustees who has been embezzling money from the corporation.
Having once more proved his worth, Karnak again requests funding for a side project he has cooking. What exactly Karnak is up to remains a mystery (for now).
Back in Florida, Magik, Quake and Ms. Marvel return to the Beast lab from reuniting more of the abducted children with their families only to discover that The Dark Beast has returned with his monstrous forces and have captured Inferno and Moon Girl. The Beast had tried out Quake’s ‘advanced interrogation’ methods (re: torture) on Inferno sans the questioning… in short, he beat the kid to a pulp.
A fight ensues. Magik frees Moon Girl who in turn frees Inferno and the team takes on the Beast and his monsters. The Warriors are tired and outmatched and soon bested by the Beast’s forces. The Beast manages to get the drop on Quake, clutching her around the neck with his massive paw and suggesting that Quake would not have the time to use her powers before he chokes the life out of her.
The fight ends when Mr. Sinister enters onto the scene and orders The Beast and his monsters to stand down. Sinister is also able to get the Warriors to stand down by presenting Dante’s infant niece and commenting that a super powered battle is not exactly safe for babies.
Also, we finally get to learn the name of Dante’s niece… it’s Ariela. That’s a nice name 🙂
Sinister introduces himself to the Warriors, presenting himself as a man of science and discovery who actually has no bone to pick with these heroes as long as they allow him to continue his work. He promises not to harm young Ariela if the Warriors can convince Karnak to allow Sinister to finish the project the two had started many months ago.
Ms. Marvel claims the Warriors have nothing to do with Karnak, yet the Dark Beast suggests that Moon Girl knows exactly what Sinister is referring to. Moon Girl has secretly remained in communication with Karnak and hence has the means to reach out to him and relay Mr. Sinister’s demands. With that, the villains take their leave. Inferno chases after them desperate to get his niece back, but they have disappeared.
In the wake of all this, the team turns to Moon Girl, demanding explanations. Off the bat, Lunella doesn’t care for her teammate’s sanctimonious tones. Each of them have done unscrupulous things, none of them are innocent. She then goes on to explain that she has continued to maintain contact with Karnak because what he is seeking to achieve is a worthwhile endeavor. She states that Karnak is attempting to obtain a new method of Terrigenesis, a way of offering the doomed Inhuman race a new future.
The team then contacts Karnak over the video conference application on Moon Girl’s laptop. Karnak admits that he had helped Sinister in his research because they shared a mutual goal, yet Karnak had cut of his assistance over a disagreement with Sinister’s methodology.
Inferno is livid. He introduces Karnak to one of the kids Sinister had abducted; he states that first the team is going to finish returning these kids home and then they are coming for Karnak and force him to make things right and get Inferno’s niece back.
The call ends and Karnak ponders for a moment the situation. Then he makes an interesting decision. Inferno had stated that the child they were going to return home is from Des Moines, Iowa. Karnak telephones the local news affiliate in Des Moines and informs them of a scoop for a feel-good story about a superheroes returning a kidnaped child to his family. Why exactly Karnak does this, what the matter is meant to achieve, remains a mystery.
The Warriors teleport to Iowa to return the child home and are met there by a bunch of news crews looking to report on the event. Quake and Magik are bemused by the presence of these reporters, but Ms. Marvel doesn’t see why it’s so bad… they’re heroes after all, what’s so bad with the public knowing about their heroic deeds?
The child’s parents are overjoyed to have him home. The boy’s mother gives the Warriors big old hugs as thanks. Again, Quake and Magik are disquieted by the display of thanks and affection, but Ms. Marvel is happy to receive it.
The boy then steps up to the news team to make a statement. He says that he is an Inhuman and for far too long the human world has not respected his people’s power. He then states something in the ancient language of Tilan. Karnak watches the news broadcast from his office. Upon seeing the boy issue this statement he remarks, ‘Sinister, what have you done?’ Clearly this boy has been implanted with some sort of brain washing, perhaps something more.
The child’s parents are perplexed by his bizarre outburst, attributing it to the ordeal he has been through. The Warriors are similarly mystified, until Ms. Marvelk comes to a terrible realization. She shouts for everyone to get back and then uses her embigoning powers to reach out and grab the boy. It’s too late. The programing Sinister had instilled in the child has triggered some sort of chain reaction. His body glows with a yellow energy and he suddenly explodes, a detonation that appears to envelope the entire areas, the Warriors included.
And it is with this harrowing cliffhanger that the issue comes to a close with the promise of continuation int he next installment.
Holy crap, what a frightening turn of events. Are the Warriors okay? Is that little boy dead? Did his making that statement in Tilan on TV activate the other latent Inhuman children Sinister had abducted? Will they blow up too? Did Karnak suspect that this was going to happen?
…Daunting questions that I’m not sure I want to know the answers to…
Rosenberg and company kick things up a notch in this thrill ride of an issue that acts to answer a number of longstanding questions, but doing so in a fashion that asks all new questions. There’s lots of thrills and intrigue, as well as the fun character beats and moments of levity that has been the hallmark of this series to date.
We now know that Karnak has set upon a mission to find an alternative means of bestowing Terrigenesis without the Terrigen Mists. He had previously given into despair over the looming end of the Inhuman race, but now appears to have taken action (drastic action) to attempt to offer his people a new future. And he has been willing to go to extreme ends to achieve this goal… namely aiding the research of the diabolical Mr. Sinister.
Yet what is Mr. Sinister’s interest in all this? In the past, Sinister’s central goal has been the forced advancement of Mutant evolution. He believes that the Mutant race is destined for greatness and that this greatness must be forged by fire… that the weaker Mutants must be culled out and the stronger ones forced to adapt and evolve via dire adversities. To this end, Sinister orchestrated the Mutant Massacre, where his team of Marauders killed off the majority of the Morlocks, believing that Mutants with weaker genes needed to be killed off less they pass on their less powerful DNA. Of course this is not at all how evolution works and Sinister’s basic grasp of natural selection could use some serious brushing up on, but this is comics so we’ll let that one go.
More recently, Sinister became quite interested in the Inhuman genome when the Terrigen Cloud was poisoning and sterilizing Mutants all over the globe. Sinister sought to attain a solution to this threat by combining Mutant and Inhuman genes to create an aggregate species; yet his scheme was thwarted by the intervention of the Extraordinary X-Men.
So what is Sinister up to now? It’s clear that he doesn’t see the Inhumans as possessing superior genetic stock. When he sees that Magik has joined forces with the Warriors he comments that her standing amongst them was tantamount to ‘slumming.’ My guess is that Sinister’s end goal is to either kill off The Inhumans in that he sees them as a threat to Mutant evolution, or that he might find some aspect of the Inhuman genome that will help to facilitate some sort of jump in Mutant evolution. Whatever Sinister is up to, it’s no good and Karnak made a significant error in facilitating his research.
Which asks yet another question… how is it that Sinister is so in need of Karnak’s assistance? What knowledge or resource does Karnak possess that Sinister so requires? Karnak is a rather smart and knowledgeable fellow, but Sinister and the Dark Beast are both geniuses (diabolical geniuses but geniuses nonetheless). It all leaves me quite curious as to what it is that Sinister so needs from Karnak.
A final question is how did Karnak know where to direct those news teams? Des Moines isn;t a booming metropolis, but it’s still a rather large city. Did he know the actual location of this kidnapped boy because he helped Sinister in locating him, or did he simply deduce the location by searching out missing persons notices for the city? Or was it just a plot hiccup in the narration?
For me, having these sorts of excited thoughts and burning questions is a sign that a comic has definitely succeeded in offering up the kinds of thrills and intrigue that have made me a lifelong fan. I already cannot wait for the next installment, so mission accomplished to the creative team.
The issue being heavier on plot squeezed out some of the fun character building beats that Rosenberg and company so excels at. We only got a little bit of flirting between Daisy and Dante and only a hint of Magik and Quakes exasperation over Ms. Marvel’s un-jaded idealism.
Although Quake does not appear to be the central character in this arc, the central premise contrives to relate to her character development.
By this I mean that Quake is continuing to struggle with the basic question of whether or not the ends can justify the means.
The idea of ends justifying the means is a notion attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli from his 1505 work, The Prince. Although to be fair, Machiavelli never actually used the term but rather suggested the idea that embracing vice is acceptable as long as the ultimate goal is virtuous. This is the core tenet of the theory of consequentialism… that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of said conduct.
Karnak has clearly embraced a consequentialist approach in his efforts to find a new means of Terrigenesis. The end result of saving The Inhuman people is viewed as justifying Karnak’s decision to out his own son and many other children in great jeopardy. The means (which are terrible) is seen as outweigh the strived for ends (which is nobel).
The rest of the team sees this as abhorrent, but Moon Girl aptly points out that they have each acted in a fashion that is not all that different. Quake resorted to torture in her effort to take down Hydra… is such a terrible act truly justified by the virtue of what she was trying to achieve?
It’s a tough question and not one for which there is an easy answer. Are terrible acts forgivable if they are done to attain a virtuous goal? At first blush this may seem to be a question easily answered. One might think: yes, the ends justify the means if the ends provide for the greater good. Yet this creates a rather slippery slope wherein what is virtue and what is vice becomes an arbitrary matter rationalized by countless factors. A person can be murdered and their organs used to save ten people’s lives… surely ten lives are more valuable than one life, so is the murder justifiable? And who gets to make this decision?
Of late I’ve received a good number of ‘asks’ in regards to Quake and whether or not she should embrace a more bloodthirsty approach to achieving her goals. A lot of her fans are annoyed by Ms. Marvel and how Kamala has acted as a foil to Daisy’s trajectory of taking on a harder edge. Some fans want to see Quake become more like The Punisher, basically a ‘consequentialist hero’ wherein deadly means are justified by nobel ends.
Quake remains balanced on the edge of a knife, she has not yet decided what kind of hero she is going to be. Is she going to be more of a manipulative and Machiavellian hero, like her first mentor, Nick Fury Sr.? Or is she going to be a more deontological and idealistic hero like her second mentor, Phil Coulson? She has yet to decide and it is possible that seeing Karnak and Mr. Sinister take terrible actions so to attain what they see as the greater good may help her make this decision.
It might be just me, but Javier Garrón’s illustration seemed more crisp and better detailed in this issue compared to the previous issue. There was a bit less compression of the panels on the page and it allowed Garrón to illustrate the characters with greater detail. This made the Dark Beast and his monsters seem less cartoony and more frightening… cooler looking.
Having more space on the page also helped hammer home the humorist bits, such as Quake’s side-eyed bemusement with Ms. Marvel as she tried to assure the parents that they had not abducted their kids.
Once more, I’m not a huge fan of pairing Garrón’s illustrative style with that of Will Robinson. I found the switching back and forth between these styles to be jarring. Once more, however, this is merely an issue of personal taste. Plus, if Will Robinson’s drawing several of the pages allows for Javier Garrón to take more time and put better effort into his pages, then I suppose the ends justifies the means…
(sorry, couldn’t help myself :3)
Again, Israel Silva’s coloring is all but flawless.
Another great issue and definitely recommended. Four out of Five Lockjaws.