Trapped in the underwater kingdom of Apelantis, Arkon must join forces with a crystalline being to attempt an escape in Weirdworld #2. Is it good?
Weirdworld #2 (Marvel Comics)
Weirdworld #2 opens as the protagonist Arkon tries to escape his captivity in Apelantis. Imprisoned alone in a cell, with his hands bound, Arkon resorts to brute force, running headfirst into the walls. While it doesn’t result in his escape, Arkon’s actions attract the attention of a crystalline being named Warbow. Warbow explains to Arkon that while he has been able to escape the prison on his own, he is always recaptured by the underwater apes before he could reach the surface of the lagoon. Warbow offers to assist Arkon in escaping in the hopes that they both can manage it together.
Weirdworld‘s simple premise allows for the issue to live up to its name. Writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Del Mundo go for the bizarre in this issue. The underwater apes themselves are a paradoxical group; their simian nature suggests that they are not adapted for sea life, yet they live in a relatively advanced world. Warbow looks human, except that he is made of a jagged, diamond-like structure. Del Mundo’s artwork only enhances the weirdness. Del Mundo and his fellow colorist Marco D’Alfonso use a diverse array of hues, shading, and tones to help create the lines in the art, giving the work an ethereal feel. This is amplified by Del Mundo’s use of shallow depths of field—Del Mundo often places objects in the foreground and distant background out of focus in order to emphasize objects in the center of an image. This technique adds a cinematic feel that works extremely well in realizing the bizarre domain of Weirdworld #2.
Writer Jason Aaron wisely lets Del Mundo’s art do most of the storytelling rather than obscuring the art in large amounts of dialogue. When Aaron does put words to the page, he makes sure that it’s worth it. As Arkon fights off the underwater apes, he dreams of the home he seeks to return to. As he describes the world, he comes to the sad realization that he is losing his memory of his home. It’s a nice way to undercut his victory in battle and sell the stakes of the issue.
If Weirdworld #2 has a flaw, though, is that Arkon doesn’t ever really escape his archetype to become his own character. It would be nice to get a sense of what separates him from Robert E. Howard’s Conan or other pulp heroes of the sword and sorcery genre. This isn’t a killjoy though. The trope is successful for a reason, and Jason Aaron is a strong enough storyteller that this doesn’t feel like a played out story. Rather, it’s a fun read, made all the better by Mike Del Mundo’s art. Like fellow limited tie-ins Where Monsters Dwell and Master of Kung Fu, mentions of the greater Secret Wars event are kept to a minimum. There are some mentions of God Doom, but nothing that takes away from the story at hand, and that’s a good thing. Part of the reason Weirdworld works is that readers are able to buy into the isolation of this bizarre world. If the book was constantly referencing events outside it, it would take away from that feeling.
Is It Good?
Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo have crafted an visually stunning book in Weirdworld #2. While Arkon doesn’t quite escape the tropes of his character archetype, he makes for an entertaining enough protagonist for readers to navigate this bizarre world with. Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo have come up with enough unusual imagery that it will keep readers on their toes, even as they stop to stare at Del Mundo’s images.