Tuesday, March 1, 2016

1872 TPB and Red Wolf #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

I initially read "Red Wolf" #1, but it became clear that this issue was a continuation of the "1872" "Secret Wars" mini-series.  In an impulsive moment of anal-retentiveness, I bought the TPB through the Marvel digital-comics site, so you're getting a pretty wide-ranging review here!  Five issues for the price of one!

In a great example of pet peeve #2, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, and Tony Stark don't all die in the "1872" mini-series, as shown on the cover of "1872" issue #1:  only Steve does.  He's killed for trying to bring justice and order to the town of Timely, intervening to prevent a mob from killing Red Wolf.  Red Wolf's crime?  He was trying to blow up the dam that Governor Roxxon built to provide water to his mine, since it stole water from Red Wolf's tribe.  Steve tries to get Red Wolf a fair trial so that the townspeople can hear what Roxxon's dam has done to the tribe, but Roxxon has sent Bullseye and a team of enforcers (Dr. Octopus, Electra, and Grizzly) to take care of Steve and Red Wolf.  They kill Steve, and his death rallies the townsfolk:  Stark gets sober and resumes construction of his Iron Man armor, Ben Ulrich commits to writing the truth in the "Timely Bulletin" (something he stopped doing when Roxxon had his wife scarred), Carol Danvers organizes the women to demand equal rights, and Natasha Barnes helps hide Red Wolf and agrees to revolt against the establishment with him to avenge her dead husband, Steve's former deputy.

Putting their plan in motion, Natasha takes Bruce to blow up the dam with his amped-up nitroglycerin on behalf of Red Wolf; in turn, Red Wolf puts on Steve's badge to take down Mayor Fisk on behalf of Natasha.  (Duggan doesn't really explain the switch, but I think that it's because they know that Red Wolf would be stopped before he got to the dam.)  At the dam, overseer Simon Williams forces Bruce to drink his concoction, though Natasha eventually kills Simon and his men.  Bruce detonates himself at the dam, and Natasha returns to town, where Red Wolf has captured Fisk.  In a nod to Steve's sense of justice, Red Wolf wants to put Fisk on trial, but Natasha kills him instead, freeing the town.  The series ends with a number of hints of the future:  an irradiated spider makes it way to the Parker homestead, the Punisher hunts down the Sinister Six (mercenaries that the "Bulletin" originally lied and said killed Rogers), a local Native American talks about the danger in the mine itself, and Natasha, Red Wolf, Stark, and someone else (a "Deputy Santos," based on "Red Wolf" #1) become the "Avengers of the West."  The final lines pledge that they will return.

Turning to "Red Wolf" #1, it's pretty clear that the series is set in this continuity, though the Avengers of the West are nowhere to be seen.  Red Wolf has taken over the role of sheriff from Steve, but none of the other heroes that we saw in action in "1872" are obviously present.  The story begins with Red Wolf breaking up a fight between "Brock" (clearly Eddie Brock) and "Sandy" (clearly Flint Marko) over cattle.  Then, a kid named Alex alerts him to a strange murder, apparently by lightning, on the Michaels homestead.  Red Wolf and Alex follow the tracks into the woods, and Red Wolf finds the trail of a modern-booted stranger (one that we saw exit the mine in the first panels of the story) as well as a young wolf pup that seems to be Lobo.  The stranger wounds Alex, and Red Wolf brings him to his mother for healing.  It's there where the townspeople and the stranger converge.  The stranger bears modern technology and conveniently exposits that the mine is the site of a great convergence in the future.  Red Wolf throws a dagger at him and the resultant energy blast sends him to the present.

I enjoyed the "1872" mini-series more than a lot of the other "Secret Wars" mini-series.  Duggan tells a fun story with a clear narrative; like the other successful "Secret Wars" mini-series, he leaves you hoping that Marvel will continue the story.  Unlike those other mini-series, though, Marvel has actually done so with "Red Wolf."  However, like I mentioned, Duggan's ambitious re-imaging of the Marvel Universe in 1872 (similar to Gaiman's "Marvel 1602") isn't present in this first issue.  In fact, Red Wolf is immediately transported to our future, and it's unclear what Duggan has planned for him.  Is it going to be like "Spider-Man 2099," where Miguel is stuck in the present?  Or, is Red Wolf just going to have a brief sojourn to the present?  I guess we'll have to wait and see, though I'd like to go on record saying that I'd like us to return to the past in an expeditious manner, even if it's only for a visit to grab Lobo.

*** (three of five stars)

No comments:

Post a Comment