The Secret is Out... and It's Name is DOOM!
We have entered the third chapter of Secret Wars, and with this second issue, we are getting a bit more characterization- seeing how all of these newly formed portions of Battleworld have come together (we even have a nicely made, and easy to read, map of the Battleworld and all of its regions. There isn’t anywhere near as much of the high-concept Hickman here that can often bewilder a less informed Marvel fan (one such as myself, often gets lost in the tall grass…) but a lot of really beautifully played out scenes, and some really subtle moments that tell of the larger scope of this world, beyond the person in charge (or so they seem to be) and the people who are subordinate to this “ruler” of Battleworld.
I was hopeful from the outset of this series that it could be a safe haven for me as a reader, that somewhere within these pages would be a story that actually FELT meaningful (if only for a time) and was able to deliver on the promises made at the series’ outset- already, it would seem, this series has accomplished what Convergence hadn’t been able to accomplish in eight of it’s nine chapters. There is a straightforward story, and there is an overarching theme to the story that was plainly laid out, and seemingly has been executed quite well, even if for only two issues. I haven’t read much of the tie-ins for Secret Wars, but those seem to be capable of adding to the series in much the same way that the Convergence tie-ins did- there are smaller sections of this whole world that the main series cannot hope to cover in such a short time, and seeing different creators taking these stories into their own hands can be like playing Russian roulette- possibly good, potentially catastrophic.
Now, for a bit more review and some **SPOILERS** you’ve been warned-
We open the issue with a scene that feels right at home with the pre-Original Sin run of Jason Aaron’s Thor- a young, stripling warrior Thor trying to heft his hammer and earn his place. But this series isn’t just rehashing the old, it is creating something new and different- and it does that with this opening scene. **SPOILERS** These Thors aren’t on Asgard, and this Thor isn’t trying to wield Mjolnir- instead these people are in service to the God Emperor Doom. These perverted Thor characters are being turned into Dr. Doom’s personal army. WHICH BLEW MY MIND!
There is then some change of pace and scenery as we follow explorers/excavators to Utopolis (one of the areas of Battleworld) where they stumbled upon what looks like the “life raft” the Future Foundation was building in issue zero. We then get a very long, slowly paced scene straight out of Game of Thrones where Baron Sinister (aka Mister Sinister) is brought to trial for his crime of “dischord” against “castle Doom” and the power it represents. There is a lot of talky-talky stuff here, that really helped to drive home the fact that this scene is taking place FAR into the established future of this society, this is no fledgling, struggling society like something out of Lord of the Flies. This is a well-oiled machine, and one that solves it’s conflicts (again, as though taken from Game of Thrones) through a challenge by single combat. This is where Baron Sinister and Baron Braddock (aka Captain Britain) engage in single combat. This was a well orchestrated fight sequence, and one that showcases the strengths and powers of both combatants and also **SPOILERS** the powerful interference of one God Emperor Doom- who seems to be quite the King Joffrey (sorry for so many GoT references…).
The book ends with a pair of unique scenes, first with the loser of the Sinister v Britain battle being banished by Thors to the realm beyond The Shield (not unlike the realm north of the wall filled with White Walkers in Game of Thrones…) to a place called The Deadlands- a place inhabited by Marvel Zombies and symbiotes and other unsavory, and extremely untenable, Marvel Universe baddies. The last scene is back at the crash site of the Future Foundation’s life raft, and of the characters that emerge from it- without getting into major spoilers there, it is safe to say, they are NOT who I expected to see. I WAS, however, glad to see them, and I think that it will do a lot to further the discord that has begun to show itself in the realm of God Emperor Doom’s domain.
This issue was a lot to take in all at once, and it has a cast of characters that is LITERALLY massive. There were, I’m sure, still plenty that I didn’t even recognize as being anyone of note to the Marvel Universe… But the players that have been shown so far seem to have a lot in front of them, a lot on all sides, and there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of ANY tunnels anytime soon.
This book has set a tone, and has started us down a road that will, with any hope, be one that leaves the readers feeling like we have accomplished something worthwile, and that even if it doesn’t last long beyond this post-Secret Wars reboot, or re-launching, or whatever Marvel is calling it- I think this series will, at the very least, be something that will be enjoyable to read and maybe even re-read.
I recommend very highly reading this book, because I think that it will have plenty of things to appeal to a wide variety of comic readers, and that is something that other publishers need to pay CLOSE attention to when they are creating these crossover events- make them high quality, make them easy to read, make them simple (or relatively simple) to follow, and deliver on what it is that you set the expectation for the book to be. Secret Wars seems to be all those things, and more..