“There is no win here. We just can’t fail” – Abigail Brand
These words from issue one ring even truer here in issue two as we see how the individuals who were sentenced to protecting The Shield, the planet long wall designed to protect Battleworld from the robot, zombie and annihilating hordes that would consume the planet, step into the front lines to defend the wall with their very lives, but ultimately know they will not win the war.
Leah has made the decision, against Abigail’s protests, to head out into the Deadlands in search of Thanos, the figure who they have been warned about who will bring about the fall of The Shield and ultimately the planet. But Leah is also hoping to find her lost love, Ilyanna Rasputin, who has not been seen in some time since going out to defend the wall.
Fifteen days pass and Leah doesn’t return to The Shield. Ready to take up her place as commander of the Hel Rangers, Kang proclaims he is ready, and more suited, to take up the newly vacant position. Noticeably shaken by the seeming loss of Leah, Abigail orders one of the Summers to hand her gun…which she more then willingly points at Kang. Summers stops her from following through, which to Kang, shows him how soft Abigail is. Summers enlightens Kang just how wrong he is, when they are alerted that Leonardo da Vinci has come across information regarding Thanos. It seems there are many who fit the name Thanos on Battleworld, but the one that Leonardo says fits more closely to who they are looking for, is a Thanos spending his time trying to assemble some sort of glove. Not knowing where to go next, Abigail decides to question two robots; defectors from Ultron, who are know prisoners of The Shield, but also able to access information from across the planet. Abigail doesn’t fully trust the robots, but gives them permission to reach out and find what they can. At that moment, they are alerted to an army that is headed straight for the wall…and was dispatched the moment the robots went looking for information. Abigail accuses them of setting the attack up, but they vehemently deny any traitorous actions on their part. Abigail quickly assembles her force and they prepare to engage….when Abigail finds out that a face from her past is leading the charge against them.
This book is so different in tone from any other from the Secret War tie ins. We are seeing characters who know that their fight will never lead to a victory, and yet they go on, throwing themselves into battles that may very well be their last. This issue gives us a deeper look into some of the characters. Leah and Abigail’s friendship, and Abigail’s loss when Leah does not return; Kang wanting to serve his own intentions and agendas, despite the impending doom; and the Summers clones who give their all to the cause, but understand how disposable they really are. We are given some small, lighter moments, with Lady Katherine charging in, stating to not be scared of the oncoming battle. America quickly reminds her that she is a one-time hero, who will go down in battle and not be seen again; but reassures her that she will not be left behind.
Kieron Gillen again brings us a great story, really focussing on the characters and showing us what it means to endure loss on the wall. Filipe Andrade‘s art definitely fits the tone of this story, along with darker shades and colours used throughout. Again, we get flashbacks of past battles through beautiful splash pages provided by guest artists Yasmine Putri, Kyle Strahm, Jesus Aburtov and In-Hyuk Lee, which help us see what Abigail has gone through to make her the wall commander she is today.
Overall, I am really enjoying the story being told in this book. There is no happy ending to look forward to, and I’m ok with that. This is a tale of a group of people who wake up every day knowing it could be their last, but wake up anyway to face it. They can’t win…but also can’t fail.
Story: Kieron Gillen Art: Filipe Andrade (and guest artists)
Art: 8 Story: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read