Finally I get to this review, after delays and the addition of a ninth issue push the series’ end off until January. But end it did and now that I’ve read it, here’s my impressions.
Even though I said I wasn’t going to get into Secret Wars, I was really faced with dropping virtually all comics for the summer or biting the bullet and seeing what Marvel might have in store for the fall. And, of course, when I buy in, I buy in heavy, getting most of the Secret Wars tie-ins, cross-overs, etc. One thing I realized however is that with so many of them ending at about the same time, just doing one comic post per week would have me doing Secret Wars and nothing but Secret Wars for several months, so I’m taking a page out of my Horror Show segment over on the other blog and doing an entire week of nothing but Secret Wars reviews. So let’s get started with the central comic, the 9 issue (plus an intro) Marvel’s Secret Wars.
It really isn’t possible to compare this Secret Wars to the original 12-issue maxi-series that came out in 1984 and that’s unfortunate because the comparison is not kind to the new one. The original had a strong, cohesive, linear story that didn’t need a lot of external explanation to understand, this one is, let’s be honest, kind of a hot mess. We see the worlds end and then we pick up after Battleworld already exists, after Doom has taken over all of the power from the Beyonders, and eight years along when pretty much nobody remembers what actually happened. It’s really very jarring. Yes, I know that Doom confronted the Beyonders in Avengers, but if you have to read other titles to understand the gist of the story, something is wrong. While in the original, they set up the story to be a battle between the heroes and the villains, you knew that the ultimate bad guy was the Beyonder and that sooner or later, they’d all have to come together, more or less, to fight against him. Here… not so much. The Beyonders are gone, Doom is God and it really isn’t that Doom is a bad guy, he’s just trying to keep it together the best way he can, it’s just a fight between disparate characters who want freedom and Doom, who wants to keep control for the good of all. That’s not much of a satisfying fight, I found myself sympathizing with Doom throughout much of the series.
And that’s kind of a problem. See, there really were no good guys or bad guys here. The whole conflict was entirely contrived. Doom didn’t seize power, he had it handed to him when Steven Strange entirely abrogated his responsibility. He was not a despotic leader, he ruled with a firm, but fair hand. He did what he had to do and we’re supposed to think that Reed Richards and his crew were somehow in the right? They weren’t. In fact, the Reeds in this story weren’t fighting for the good of all, they either had an ulterior motive or they wanted to get back at Doom for stealing their family. They weren’t the good guys. Neither was Doom. Nobody was and that really leads to an interesting, but aimless story.
But as interesting as the storyline was, ultimately, it means nothing. Nine issues and tons of side stories and the whole of Battleworld no longer exists. Marvel could have just rebooted the universe without this event and nobody would have known any differently. That’s the biggest problem, ultimately, this just doesn’t have any lasting impact on what’s going to come after.
In the end, for a universe-changing story, I just expected more. Artistically gorgeous, nothing in the story really sticks with me, there isn’t anything that I’d want to follow, anything that I’d want to remember, it was an extended philosophical fight between Doctor Doom and Reed Richards. Maybe it is fitting that the Marvel Universe began in 1963 with the Fantastic Four and ended in 2015 with the Fantastic Four, but it doesn’t really feel like something momentous happened. So much of the series was filler that ultimately provides nothing. It should have been better.