This is D.C., and today’s throwdown will be on something I was very much looking forward to reading:
Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars of 2015, as opposed to the 1984 iteration (I’ve not read that one, but you best believe I will someday).
Let’s take a step back.
As I’ve said before, I’ve had a deep love for Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers saga that detailed the incursions and the end of all of Marvel’s universes. While Hickman chronicled the heroism and ethical dilemmas in Avengers and New Avengers, hints of the breaking of reality and earthlings’ fault in the matter could be seen in various other books:
Spider-Verse, X-Men’s Battle of the Atom and All-New X-Men, Age of Ultron, War of Kings, Realm of Kings, the Thanos Imperative, Volume 2 of New Avengers (the Heroic Age), and X-Termination all have bouts of the weakening barriers of the multiverse.
The incursions in Hickman’s saga is just the culmination of the constant reality-hopping intrusions and time-travelling mishaps the heroes commit. Hank McCoy, the X-Men’s Beast, is possibly the worst offender of all, given both his time-jumping the young X-Men into the present and his work with the Illuminati:
So, by the time Secret Wars begins, we are at the Final Incursion, the inevitability. Two Earths remain and are on a collision with one another. The mutual destruction means the end of all universes, the destruction of one leaves one universe alive. So what happens?
Pure, unadulterated chaos between Earth-616 (main earth) and Earth-1610 (Ultimate Marvel earth). Characters from both Earths make a last ditch attempt to defeat one another to save their own planet. Amid the chaos, the real planners try not to win–they try not to lose. The Illuminati try to escape with a so-called “resurrection team,” tasked with reviving the species (a very big eugenics nod, when you read Mr. Fantastic). Meanwhile, the Cabal, along with the Maker (Earth-1610 Reed Richards) make their own escape plans.
The first issue of Secret Wars was sad. It was as grueling and sad look at what any species would do when faced with extinction. They chaotically gasp for their final breaths as they wage a futile war.
The Good Stuff
The first issue was, by far, my favorite of the series. It is chaotic, saddening, and gripping, fitting for the end of all that is.
I have little to say on the coloring aspect of Secret Wars. It’s good, and gives the feel that I was reading an epic.
The covers. My goodness. I’ve always been a fan of Alex Ross’ art since I read Kingdom Come so many years ago:
Even the variant covers NOT done by Alex Ross were great to look at:
Hickman’s portrayal of Dr. Doom was actually very superb. While Doom’s overwhelming narcissism is present, his personality reaches a different realm to me. Immediately you perceive his feelings of love, and even his lack of self-confidence.
The best part of this story? You see that Doom limits himself and remains so petty, even with godlike power in his hands. Doom is gifted with omnipotence and he still can’t think of much better than to combat his insecurities towards Reed Richards. You really start to pity Doom early on and throughout the event when you realize just how small this “god” really is.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
The first issue of Secret Wars told me I would be in for some problems, thanks to Esad Ribic’s art.
If you read my critique of DC Comic’s Batwoman, you will know that the worst thing I think a creative team can do is to forget what came before when doing their work. The same occurs here on one of the splash pages.
If you look immediately to the right of the Hulk, you see a flying figure that most certainly appears to be Hyperion. The design makes it very likely.
There is NO REASON Hyperion should have been on Earth–he was dead by this point. Hickman’s Time Runs Out arc explained why. It turns me off whenever past events are not reviewed before making a story. This is a very bad thing to do in any medium.
Ribic’s art catches me off-guard at some points. He’s very hit and miss; at many points the art is beautiful, colossal, and raw. At other points his execution is just…ugly. There isn’t a definitive point where it’s one thing and another, but there are hiccups in the event.
Sue Storm just looks…well…hideous. Not to mention her arm. I tried to mimic the pose. It feels and LOOKS anatomically incorrect:
As for the survivors of the former earth…Why were they chosen? Manifold was tasked with retrieving certain people during the Final Incursion, but there was absolutely zero reason provided as to WHY these people were chosen out of many. Clarity would have made sense of this.
Secret Wars suffered from several instances where events occurred for no good reason, for example: the Thing relenting in his fight with Franklin; how easily the Thing trusted Thanos; how quickly and easily the zombies in the Shield sided with Black Panther and Namor. Again…clarity would have helped.
Secret Wars was an appropriate send-off to Jonathan Hickman’s enduring saga of the end of all things.
I’ve read reviews that the main event suffered from a disjointed plot, and I agree. Some events occurred without reason, and that made for a very confusing read. There was substantial focus given to Dr. Doom that gave a good understanding of the burden Doom suffered. Some focus is placed on Mr. Fantastic, but there wasn’t nearly enough time given to the other survivors and how they adjusted to their new reality.
Unfortunately, there are hints that Secret Wars might have been a very rushed project. Quite a bit of what happens does not make sense because of the lack of development given to the cast, and to that of the world itself. One would expect world-building in the main series. The 40-some odd tie-ins will assist in that, but why would you need that many tie-ins to help make the main event comprehensible?
There are many things I wished that could have happened in Secret Wars and Hickman’s incursion saga in general, but it was a surprisingly quick and decent read. I’d give it a 3/5.
One final issue:
For those who aren’t familiar with the reality hopping Exiles series, it’s a worthwhile read. With the collapse of the multiverse, I can’t understand why these characters NEVER made an appearance through Hickman’s incursion saga, in Avengers, New Avengers, or even Secret Wars. Where the heck were they? Multiversal problems were their specialty!