(Quick note from the editor. KC mentions story points that happened in Secret Wars, though not the new issue. Consider yourself informed.)
A KC Column by KC Carlson
“I DO remember when comic books were only a dollar. A DOLLAR’S WORTH OF CRAP!” — Rocket Raccoon, Secret Wars (2015) #1
The Marvel Universe: 1961-2015
The Ultimate Universe: 2000-2015
Okay, that pretty much sums up Secret Wars (2015) #1…
TIME PASSES. KC READS ALL THE SECRET WARS SERIES, ALL IN ONE AFTERNOON.
Today is Wednesday January 13, 2016 (sadly, not a Friday), and the most recent iteration of Marvel’s Secret Wars (either its third or fourth — or maybe more — depending on what exactly you count in “your” Marvel Universe) has come to a long, somewhat tortured, end. It should have ended about four months ago, but, because comic books, it didn’t. And therefore, the last four months of Marvel “Real Time” has been this uncomfortable, inopportune, frustrating limbo, where the “new” (technically, “All-New, All Different”) Marvel Universe has already been launched and started moving forward (kinda) while the “old” Marvel Universe has been dragging its feet not wanting to go anywhere, like any other young child. (Except in “real” time, Marvel is over 75 years old. Granted, most 75-year-olds don’t move all that fast either….)
Despite the slow start, and the infuriating waits between issues, I enjoyed this Secret Wars. I think Marvel made a very good call when they realized that writer/designer Jonathan Hickman, artist Esad Ribic, and colorist Ive Svorcina couldn’t produce a 48-page issue on time each and every month. They decided to cut the per-issue page count downwards around issue #6. This unfortunately elongated the publication time of the series, but the smaller issues helped tighten the plot and storytelling immensely, making the last half of the series a much better “read”. (Also helping: Actual things started happening!)
The series has lots of great highlights, starting right off with issue #1’s “one-shot” feel of watching the last survivors of both of Marvel’s main Earths (616 aka The Marvel Universe, and 1610 aka The Ultimate Universe) struggle… and fail!… to save their respective worlds. There’s a huge “Holy Crap!” moment at the end of issue #1, when everything is just gone… and you have to wait until next issue to find out what happens next. Despite Rocket Raccoon’s exclamation about “crappy” old comic books in this issue, this one is actually a pretty good one.
Secret Wars #2 spends the whole issue establishing the current status quo for whatever is left of the Marvel Universe after that nail-biting first issue. Keywords here are “God Emperor Doom” and, of course, “Battleworld” (which includes a handy map that becomes useful, especially in the crossovers). Here we meet the “Thor Corps” for the first time, which, as established in the Thors mini, is more “Hill Street Blues” than Asgard Warriors. Plus, we find out more about the workings of Battleworld and its leadership, starting with the Royal Court of “God Emperor Doom” and Susan and Valeria Richards. Dr. Stephen Strange is now “Sheriff of Agamatto”, more Judge Dredd than Sorcerer Supreme. He introduces himself with the classic line “I Am The Law,” as he prepares to rule in a matter between Baron (Mr.) Sinister and the Braddock brothers — Brian and Jamie. And, of course, by the end of the issue, Thanos shows up.
By issue three, more characters are re-introduced, including two Spider-Men (Peter and Miles), Cyclops becomes Phoenix, Strange and T’Challa recognize each other, and Reed Richards is both tired and angry. In subsequent issues, Doom kills one of the heroes, Sheriff Strange dispatches the others around Battleworld and is executed by Doom for his betrayal, and things generally get worse. Doom starts losing it and also encounters a unexpected survivor of the first (1984) Secret War, who becomes important to the rest of the series.
Also important in Secret Wars: An eight-year-and-three-week old hamburger. Namor admits that he can’t be trusted. Thanos knows a secret about somebody important who ends up larger than life, but one of those people ends up dead, and T’Challa ends up with the Infinity Gauntlet! There’s also a headless Mr. Sinister, and because they are so important to practically anything that Hickman does for Marvel, the Future Foundation plays a major role in the last half of the series. And somebody ends up owing somebody else one…
BILLIONS OF MINIS
As most of you know, the 2015 version of Secret Wars also included oodles of crossover miniseries and one-shots of various degrees of quality and/or excitement levels. A large number of these were new takes on previous Marvel Events and previous series — minis based on Civil War, Infinity Gauntlet, Inferno, Years of Future Past, Korvac Saga, X-Tinction Agenda, Siege, Planet Hulk, Armor Wars, Spider-Island, and others.
Another batch of Secret Wars tie-ins served to (kinda) continue the runs of a bunch of recently started series like Inhumans, various Guardians of the Galaxy minis, A-Force, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, and a whole slew of Spider-like series which were interrupted by Secret Wars, including Spider-Man 2099/ Secret Wars 2099, Spider-Verse/ Web Warriors, Silk, Spider-Gwen, and Spider-Woman.
Secret Wars also helped to wrap up a number of series with its “Last Days” bannering, including Silver Surfer, Ant-Man, Black Widow, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, Loki, Agent of Asgard, Magneto, and The Punisher. Of course, Marvel being Marvel, the first four of these are already back, or will be any day now.
Finally, there were a number of “new” Secret Wars concepts to serve as “pilots” for brand-new ongoing series in the “All-New, All-Different” line, including Old Man Logan, Weirdworld, 1872 (with some concepts to be included in Red Wolf), Squadron Sinister, and possibly others down the road.
MEANWHILE… (Whoops! Wrong company…)
Since Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different” line started (on schedule, despite Secret Wars lateness), almost 60 “new” series have launched in the last four months. Many of these were just re-starts of classic and recent Marvel series. As both Wayne and I have been telling you lately, a lot of these new series are quite good, and others are filled with promise. Unfortunately, that’s an awful lot of product for readers to absorb or figure out in a short period of time, and some worthy projects risk getting lost in the onslaught.
Finally, one other important group of books were published along with Secret Wars, depicting what seems to be the very final end of the Ultimate Universe (except for Miles Morales and perhaps some revised versions of his family, friends and foes — who will debut soon in the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe). I’ll take a look at the Ultimate End Secret Wars tie-in series, as well as the legacy of the 15-year-old Ultimate Universe, next time.
KC CARLSON: Can’t help hearing Jan & Dean music in his head every time he sees the Silver Surfer. “Gotta take that one last ride!!!”
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. “And everybody’s sayin’ that there’s nobody meaner… Than the little old lady from Pasadena.”