Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Germán Peralta
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Andrea Sorrentino, Dean White
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Blade. Spider-Woman. Wiccan. Winter Soldier. Spectrum. Angela. How could a group of such unrelated characters possibly come together? In this week’s Strikeforce, Marvel’s newest superteam materializes, and it’s still pretty unclear why.
Strikeforce is technically a War of the Realms spinoff, deriving its title from a trio of linked one-shot tie-ins that followed the basic concept of various factions of characters embarking on covert missions against Malekith’s armies. That’s more or less the premise here — when a group of heroes are framed for a crime and apprehended by the Avengers, it’s up to a sympathetic Blade to help them figure out who did them in, and why. While the plot of this new series does link to War of the Realms, calling back to the concept of the Black Bifrost (like the regular Bifrost, but for Dark Elves), it’s otherwise completely unconnected; only two of this new team (Blade and Winter Soldier) appeared in the aforementioned tie-ins.
Speaking of the team, it does seem fairly random in a way I assume will make sense as the story progresses. It’s not as disjointed as, say, the original Champions were, but there isn’t necessarily a logical throughline connecting them together. None of these characters have any particular history with one another, nor do their powers or specialities synergize in any obvious way, but I suppose that’s part of the fun of it? Besides, some of them (Wiccan and Monica Rambeau) happen to be among my favorite Marvel characters who sometimes vanish without a trace, so I’m not complaining about a new series that regularly features them.
A big triumph of this comic is that it doesn’t feel like it should work, but thanks to its capable creative team, it’s a fairly entertaining superhero comic with a dash of horror elements. Tini Howard has been making a big splash at Marvel recently, and Strikeforce feels pretty in line what the tone she’s established in her runs on Thanos and Death’s Head, combining the darker aspects of the former and the humorous action of the latter. (Also, Wiccan appears in Death’s Head with boyfriend Hulkling, so Howard clearly has an affection for those two.) The plot is still murky in some ways at this early point, but I trust Howard to make it all make sense by the end.
Artist Germán Peralta does a good job of pulling off the supernatural horror aspects of Strikeforce, with appropriately creepy imagery that never feels too gross or off-putting but just enough that it won’t alienate readers. In a comic filled with decapitations, dismemberment, and impalement, that’s pretty high praise. Colorist Jordie Bellaire, a veteran of (supernatural) horror herself, comes through with reliably good colors that run the gamut of tones from page-to-page, but especially reds that aren’t always just blood and gore! (But usually, they are.)