I like Paul Pope, but the phrase “Paul Pope draws Ant-Man!” is about as much of a draw as “LIVE NUDE FIRST TIME FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT JUDGES CLICK HERE!” That said, Battleworld #3 is still pretty fun.
THE OBLIGATORY WARNING: claws and guts and heads impaled. There’s a Wolverine story.
If, like me, the Secret Wars arc confuses you, here’s the gist: the Marvel Multiverse was blown to little bits. Those little leftover bits were sewn into a vibrant patchwork quilt of mayhem called Battleworld. Victor Von Doom is its god, and Steven Strange was his second in command until recently. Typing this makes me realize how fan-fictiony the whole premise sounds.
Battleworld shows what happens when all those characters from alternate realities collide. In a lot of cases, it’s enjoyable death. I haven’t read the first two issues, but Battleworld #3 is the comic relief to the gritty counterpart of the main Secret Wars title. Issue 3’s split up into three vignettes about Wolverines, Deadpool and the Inhumans’ giant dog thing, and Ant-Men. The plurals in that last sentence are intentional, as these stories are about the collision of different versions of the same character.
“A Thousand Cuts,” is an amusing Wolverine story whose highlight is a two-page spread of every kind of Wolverine imaginable. I don’t know if the credit goes primarily to writer Ivan Brandon or artist Aaron Conley, but the spread’s variety of Wolverines—everything from one that looks like a Sentinel to a pug with adamantium claws— is a decent gag itself. Props also for the reference to F.E.A.R. Agent in the upper left corner. “Thousand Cuts” is primarily an eleven-page joke, but there’s some legitimate pathos in the final image of a lone, peaceful Wolverine about to be sliced up. I think Brandon meant it as a joke, but the Wolverine-as-Zen-mystic idea still has legs.
“Fistful of ‘Changas” follows Deadpool and Lockjaw trying to capture a T-Rex. There’s not much to say about it beyond the fact that it’s funny, and I respect writer Ryan Ferrier for thinking up the phrase “the smell…it’s like a hippo gave birth to ravioli.” I’m not as much a Deadpool fan because the jokes in the issues I’ve bought feel stale. Ferrier contrarily contributes a gift for wordplay that makes the gags equal to the character and the concept.
As promised, there is a “Paul Pope draws Ant-Man!” The story, actually called “World War Ant,” is one page long, another gag, and similar to “A Thousand Cuts” for its visual variety (there’s an Ant-Man who looks like Galactus…). More than anything, though, it’s a reminder of Paul Pope’s draftsmanship. The central panel, which shows two ants fighting, evokes the insects’ strange beauty. Or maybe it just reminded me of the ant in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
Worth the money? Objectively, yes. I hate mega-storylines like Secret Wars, but this is a competent issue. That said, it’s hard not to feel like you’re being played when the principal storyline is bleak, but the side stories all toy with the most-characters-will-die pathos of the main Secret Wars title.