Writer & Designer/ Jonathan Hickman Artist/ Esad Ribic Colour Artist/ Ive Svorcina
Sometimes there are so many comic titles that I really have a hard time deciding which one to pick for these reviews. It’s a hard life, I know.
This time around, I’ve decided to take a look back at a previously reviewed title. Secret Wars #1 was featured a few weeks ago and I found that first issue’s story compelling me to catch up on my reading. They were heaped right next to my computer so I read issues 2-6 all in one go and so far, Jonathan Hickman and crew are doing awesome work.
First off, I really love aesthetic of the book. The main cover is done by Alex Ross and right there, we’re off to a good start. His work is always borderline photorealistic and crammed with details.
After that, I’m pretty sure Jonathan Hickman is responsible for the layouts of the pages and the graphic design aspect as he is credited as both writer and designer on the book. If you’ve read his highly stylized creator owned mini series Nightly News, Pax Romana or Red Mass for Mars, you’ll have an idea in regards to the amount of thought that is put into the visual presentation of a Hickman story.
In this case each issue of Secret Wars has a “splash page” with creator credits on the left and then on the right is the Secret Wars logo with a blurb bringing the reader up to speed on what has happened in the story to date. Comics need to adopt this habit of bringing readers up to speed with every issue in this manner. It would be a great way for writers to avoid having their characters in any given story endlessly having to repeat themselves for the sake of the readers. How many times have I read Frank Castle thinking to himself his own biography. Yes, yes. Family killed in a mob related crossfire, now you punish criminals as the Punisher. Yes. Thank you again for making me read that thought bubble. Get on with the punishing please.
Other finishing touches include blank white chapter pages and a page displaying thumbnails of the main cast for the issue. Secret Wars contains a ridiculous amount of characters and that is great, but it’s fun to have a quick looks at all the important players.
As mentioned previously, the Marvel multiverse has been destroyed. Earth-616 and Earth-1610 collided and that was that. The End…. For a time. We know that Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange and Molecule Man faced the Beyonders at that very moment and defeated them. Now, “fragments of universes that no longer exist” have been gathered and pulled together in a patchwork planet called Battleworld. All this “maintained by the iron will of its god and master, Victor Von Doom – And the Molecule Man, secretly wielding the stolen power of the Beyonders.” Those three men are also the only ones on Battleworld who remember the world as it was before the Incursion.
The main cast has largely been God Emperor Doom (Ruler of Battleworld), Stephen Strange (Sheriff of Agamotto), Susan Storm (Royal Consort), Valeria (Head Of the Foundation) and most recently, Owen Reece (Molecule Man) going mad from the power of the Beyonders.
The Foundation is pretty much a Fantastic Four related think tank of sorts, consisting of Franklin (who’s Richards surname is left out. No doubt it is taboo to speak that name around God Doom who’s been humiliated by Reed Richards, Franklin’s father, over and over), Alex Power (Power Pack), Dragon Man, Psycho Man and Nostradamus (yes, that Nostradamus, who has appeared in Hickman’s wonderful S.H.I.E.L.D comic series.)
Then we have the “Survivors of the Final Incursion”. Two life rafts made it through the crucible and on one we have Mr. Fantastic (who just saw his family die, but will no doubt freak out when he finds them alive, living happily as Doom’s family in his shiny new world), Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Star-Lord, Cyclops (consumed once again with the Phoenix Force), Spider-Man and Thor (current Thor, Jane Foster). On the other raft we find a more ruthless bunch such as Thanos, Black Swan, Terrax, Namor (friggin’ guy, always such a dick and that’s why he’s so cool, somehow. Only Namor can be that much of a dick and still be in comics), Proxima Midnight, Maximus, Corvus Glaive, the Maker and unbeknownst to any of them, Miles Morales (Spider-Man-1610) who distances himself from those guys pretty quickly.
It’s interesting to see how this world works. The fragments of past, present and future realities have been brought together by Doom and these domains are ruled by squabbling barons who answer only to God Doom Himself. For example Apocalypse rules the Domain of Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister domains is called the Bar Sinister and the Braddocks lord over High Avalon. There are many other kingdoms and I won’t go through the list here, but one scary place to be in Battleworld is on the other side of the Shield, a massive wall that completely encircles the planet (in the southern hemisphere, where Antarctica is on Earth.) This zone acts as a quarantine zone for the undead hordes, the symbiotes (such as Venom), the seasonal migration of the drone army that is the Annihilation Wave of Annihilus and the self-replicating, super-evolving Ultron A.I. automatons. This is not a place you want to be banished to.
Squabbling kingdoms and new arrivals to this world on the life rafts threaten God Doom’s control. Stephen aids his friends from the rafts and is destroyed by Doom for his betrayal. Doom then places Valeria in charge of finding the fugitives, but this in turn forces her to ask herself some serious questions about her “father”, the truth behind his godly power and his motivations. Black Panther and Namor, both members of Illuminati with Dr. Strange in their previous life, find themselves transported to the Eye of Agamotto, Strange’s domain, to discover he had hidden the only thing that could “smite a god”: an Infinity Gauntlet. In the meantime, Thanos is starting trouble, by getting into the head of the sleeping colossus that is the backbone of the Shield. The wall crumbles and breaks as the Thing (FF’s Ben Grim), immense and as tall as a mountain, stands up. Nasties are gonna come pouring out of there and that’s probably just what Thanos wants in an effort to wrest control of battleworld from Doom.
This series has been very exciting so far. I’m very much looking forward to the next three issues to see how this is resolved, but it’s all a little bittersweet as this will be Hickman’s final story with Marvel for the foreseeable future. He has stated that he will be returning to creator owned projects and everyone knows that can’t happen at Marvel, so off he goes. It’s sure been a blast these last few years, reading Hickman’s take on the Marvel universe. He’s had a great impact and created a tonne of new lore for Marvel that could be around for years to come.
Then again, the universe could end at the drop of a hat and be rebooted, so who know what the future might hold for some of our favourite heroes? Secret Wars is a fun read and I highly recommend it, but will the next iteration of the Marvel Universe born out of the conclusion of this event bring on the Disneyfication of Marvel folks are fearing will come? It’s an exciting time to be reading Marvel and I hope there’s a little something for everyone out there. This series has set the bar quite high for the titles to come. Don’t let me down Marvel, because Image and Dark Horse are looking pretty good these days.
(Rene LeClair is an avid comic book reader and works at Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, spreading the word to all who love comics as well. He is also a fantastic musician who currently plays with a great band called FEAR AGENT. Rene has been at his music for years, including stints with Longtimers, Four Frames, and the amazing Dead City Rebels. At the Comic Hunter (Moncton/Charlottetown) they easily have the biggest selection in the Maritimes for all your nerdy needs. They specialize in comic books w/ over 250k back issues, an immense library of graphic novels as well as a seemingly endless selection of board/card games. Whether you find yourself that side of Quebec or not, they’ll ship anywhere. Visit their website and contact them HERE.)