Secret Empire Brave New World #2
Writers: Paul Allor & Fabian Nicieza
Penciler: Will Robson & Diego Olortegui
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain, Jordan Boyd, Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 06/21/17
Plot: Secret Empire Brave New World brings readers three mini series comics that add additional context into the new world where Hydra rules all. These small stories explore Hydra Bob taking down Inhumans, a new Patriot suiting up and a look into Atlantis.
Story: The stories in Brave New World start off feeling a little strange because of how short they are, delivering teasers of what to expect as Secret Empire continues on. For how widespread of an impact the entire Secret Empire story is, it becomes tough to explore just how much has changed since Hydra has taken over the world. Brave New World delivers some quick glimpses into these smaller scale side stories. The book opens up with a focus on Shaun, a good-hearted kid who wants to be a hero and truly stand up for the little guy. The story is short but sweet and is an idea that could really be fun to read if the character were further developed. Shaun as a character is super likable, emulating the same frame of mind that every hero should have, wanting to stand up for those who have been wronged. The story really nails developing what the character is about; showing his true intentions while still needing an extra hand to reach his goal. The character comes across as being very human and someone that is easily relatable to, and having Shaun eventually pair up with Tony is a nice finishing touch. Hopefully the new Patriot can start to team up with a team like the Champions (which the book implies) and be featured more going forward.
The second story in Secret Empire Brave New World puts a focus on the other side of events, seeing how Hydra Bob operates on a mission. The story is much more light-hearted and comedy focused, which falls right in line with Bob’s usual appearances. The character is someone who falls into success and while it’s a nice side piece to random books and stories, here it comes off as a little too goofy. The story brings a fresh change of pace and style into Brave New World but also feels wrongly placed following up the more traditional Patriot story. The insight into the world of Hydra agents tracking down and capturing Inhumans is a great idea to explore, but the story feels like a rather childish way with no real sense of danger or intensity to the mission. Comparably to everything else that Secret Empire has delivered from it’s tie-ins this one feels like it falls short.
The final story in Brave New World takes readers underwater to Atlantis with a focus on Namor and a couple of prisoners he has locked up for an assassination attempt. The story immediately delivers a return of the tone that feels appropriate for Secret Empire, where everyone is extremely tense. The story feels somewhat abrupt but does a nice job of holding its structure in the small space it has to operate. Atlantis is more of a wildcard in Secret Empire because the society is not as directly involved with everything going on above ground. However, the shifting of power and resources becomes a lot more interesting by the story’s end and could impact how much involvement Atlantis ends up having in Secret Empire overall.
Art: The one consistent thing in Brave New World is definitely the art and how it flows within all three of the individual stories. Each artist really nails the fast-paced action scenes that become critical to the story. In the first story, the action really signifies Shaun’s growing confidence and abilities. The character begins the story discussing how he knows he has what it takes to be a hero, but is immediately beaten down by bullies. Now, the suit bolsters his confidence and allows him to be the one to jump right into action. The panels looks really great, giving the Patriot these graceful movements that also feel extremely powerful. There is a great flow but it really nails the callback to the story’s beginning, displaying Shaun’s quick grasp on the idea of learning to be a hero for the people even when he is struggling with personal issues.
The artwork for the Atlantis story also does a great job with its ability to compliment the tense nature of the story. The artwork flows with the story’s pacing and when the more tense action sequences happen, the art can stand on its own and tell the story. As the prisoners try to escape their cell block they run into multiple problems that do a great job of covering the generic fears about being stuck underwater. Not only are there these large creepy creatures circling the characters like sharks, but they have to swim a decent way upward to beg for their lives. The art here gives a great sense of how far the characters really have to travel if they are going to survive while adding a gritty texture to the setting.
Each team does a great job of complimenting the individual stories and utilizing such a small amount of pages. While the Hydra Bob story feels a little too cartoony, it definitely falls right in line with the story and writing. Yet, the Patriot and Atlantis artwork both look great, having a much more traditional style and covering more ground in what the artwork expresses and adds to the story.
Verdict: Brave New World is definitely a fun and interesting tie-in for Secret Empire but still feels very hit or miss. The Patriot story feels like it will have the largest impact moving forward and is an idea that could warrant it’s own book. The Hydra Bob story does explore an important side of the Secret Empire setting but would feel more appropriate if it was slightly more serious in tone and style. The Atlantis Invader story has potential, but hopefully the story has a bigger connection to the larger plot moving forward. There’s definitely a lot of good content in Brave New World, but it’s tough to flesh out three separate stories in a single book.