Sunday, May 15, 2016

Secret Wars: Secret Love # 1

Cover Artist: David Nakayama
Published: Sept. 2015
Original Price: $4.99

Title: "Fan of a Fan"
Writer: Felipe Smith
Artist: Felipe Smith

Letterer: VC's Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Val Staples
Editor: Emily Shaw
Editor In Chief: Axel Alonso 

During the finale of a Ghost Race, the "Mechanic From Hell" Robbie Reyes uses his chains to wrap up a giant monster called a Klamaggon, which he uses to knock out the other racers.  Once again, Reyes is the winner of the night's Ghost Race and is cheered by the fans in the grandstands.  Watching from the stands are his brother, Gabe, and his girlfriend Lisa, who is worried about how dangerous the Killiseum can be.  At the "Circle Q Concession Stand" at the edge of the Killiseum is Kamala Khan, also known as the heroine Ms. Marvel, who is ordered by her boss to take Reyes a free "Magnum Slurpee of Doom" for promotion.  Kamala runs up to Robbie during his victory march, while a jealous Lisa and Bruno (Kamala's unrequited love interest) watch on jealously.

Suddenly, the Klamaggon jumps at Reyes, and he transforms into the Ghost Rider to stop it.  Kamala changes into Ms. Marvel, and the two young heroes quickly defeat the giant monster.  When the smoke clears, Robbie and Kamala stand facing one another, close enough to kiss, while Lisa and Bruno look on in horror.  But instead of kissing, Robbie and Kamala slap their hands together and Kamala shouts "Crossover besties 4 lyfe, bro!!".  Lisa and Bruno both sigh in relief.

Secret Love was part of the 2015 Secret Wars event, which saw the Marvel multiverse destroyed with only a single world remaining under the rule of a godlike Doctor Doom.  The planet, Battleworld, was comprised of dozens of domains consisting of fragments of alternate realities.  This story takes place in the domain of Doomstadt, which is home of the Killiseum and the location of the Ghost Racers limited series.

This story likely takes place just prior to Ghost Racers (2015) # 1.

This anthology special also contained stories featuring Daredevil, Iron Fist & Misty Knight, Squirrel Girl, and Ant-Man & the Wasp.

All-New Ghost Rider and Ms. Marvel have a really sweet crossover in the midst of Secret Wars, which  makes me wonder why these two characters haven't interacted again.

Secret Love is an inconsequential anthology one-shot (which is strange in and of itself, since Secret Wars already had TWO anthology mini-series running concurrently) centered around nominal notions of love.  Pairing together two new, young heroes like Robbie and Kamala was a smart move, even though I've never read the Ms. Marvel series and know absolutely nothing about her character (she makes giant fists, I assume?).  This is a comedy piece, which is kind of refreshing given how bleak and unrelentingly depressing the Ghost Racers series has been, but it's absolutely unnecessary to pick up outside of its admittedly charming leads. I liked the swerve at the end, which forgoes the expected romantic sparks between the characters in favor of something totally different.  Also, "crossover besties 4 lyfe, bro!" gave me a real laugh.

The artwork is likewise charming, with Felipe Smith returning to draw another Ghost Rider story after his work on All-New Ghost Rider.  While Juan Gedeon was a great choice to draw the Ghost Racers series, I still say that no artist "gets" Robbie Reyes like Smith does, and I will always welcome any opportunity he has to draw as well as write the character.  His work isn't as dark as Gedeon's, though both are stylistically similar, so it certainly fits the more light-hearted tone of this story.

Again, I'm really surprised that more hasn't been done with the Reyes/Khan pairing post-Secret Wars, but since Robbie has yet to reappear since that event perhaps it's in the cards for the future.  As it stands, though, this is a nice, happy little story that will make you smile but is certainly not essential reading.

Grade: B