Written by Michel Fiffe, Felipe Smith, Jeremy Whitley, Marguerite Bennett, and Katie Cook
Art by Guruhiru, and Kris Anka
Anthologies can be a hard format to perfect, the range of genre, and in talent can either uplift or hurt a book’s chances of succeeding. While Secret Wars has experimented with two anthology books so far, Secret Wars: Secret Love has a unique twist that keeps the proceedings interesting: romance. While the cover itself does court the Romita romance comics ( as well as Lichenstein), the stories themselves vary in tone, but all of them have something great to offer in terms of romance within superhero comics, but all have great stories going on as well.
The one I was most excited about: Daredevil written and drawn by Michel Fiffe does not disappoint, kicking off with a great homage to Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr’s seminal run in the 80’s. Anyone who’s read Fiffe’s work on comics such as Copra or All-New Ultimates knows that there’s a lot of fondness for 80’s Marvel baked into those books, but actually tackling that era altogether is a different thing, and luckily Fiffe captures the tone of that aforementioned run to a tee. That being said: while the story is a done-in-one, the tale is a memorable one focusing on the more supernatural Daredevil stories of that time, including his history with Typhoid Mary and Karen Page (it is romance), as well as another character who’s occasionally interacted with Matt in the past. Overall, with the writing combined with Fiffe’s distinctive art style, outside of Copra, you’re not going to get a story that looks or read anything like this. While nostalgia can be a negative, Fiffe captures that feel and reminds us how fun comics can be in the process.
Felipe Smith also dons the writer/artist cap in his story focusing on Robbie Reyes and Kamala Khan, the All-New Ghost Rider and Ms. Marvel, which many fans have likely been waiting for with bated breath. That being said, they come from completely opposite worlds, which Smith uses to great effect both in the clash of their own appearances, as well as their own interaction. Thankfully, the story while being a romance anthology, doesn’t ignore the love interests of their own respective series, and while the cover may lie a bit, it does a good job of making a memorable first meeting between the two.
Jeremy Whitley and Guruhiru give us a story on Misty Knight and Danny Rand, who’ve not received much in the way of romance or love as a couple lately. And while it’s not my own personal favorite, it’s the one that most definitely leans hard on the fact it’s in a romance anthology, and lives up to the promise admirably. While Guruhiru has given us a lot of stories in the way of the All-Ages Power Pack story, that same clean art gives way to the more expressive and emotive acting that romance stories require, and helps sell the love between Danny and Misty in a real way. While I’ve never been a fan of the Misty/Danny romance myself, it makes the case for what makes them click, and why a superhero marriage is not weed killer for drama.
The Squirrel Girl/Thor pairing while completely out of nowhere, plays like most of the stories here slightly left-of-center and just runs with the fun one-shot feeling. Bennett and Anka while having a limited amount of pages to play with, manage to sell the clash of Squirrel Girl’s boisterousness vs. Thor’s stoic nature and weariness with aplomb. While the romance is ultimately one-sided, it’s a reminder of the humor we more ought to see, and that Kris Anka is as phenomenal an artist as ever on anything he touches. Katie Cook’s story is similarly in a cuter manner than the rest of the preceding stories, but it’s not out of place with the crowd. Overall, Secret Love is more than worth its $4.99 price, the names who don’t normally do a lot of normal work for Marvel rise the quality of the series alone, and while anthologies can have a problem with maintaining an upper level, this one has no such problem.
Review 5 out of 5 Hearts
Reviewed by Slewo