The first issue of Secret Wars is nothing but a big action scene, and the end of both the 616 Universe and the Ultimate Universe. It’s ok, but it feels like a bunch of things happening and nothing more. The second issue introduced us to Battleworld, a realm divided into territories based on major stories, alternate universes and lost timelines from throughout Marvel’s publication history. It was mostly an exposition issue, but a really good one. Secret Wars 3, written by Jonathan Hickman, continues sometime after the last one ended and helps get the actual story moving.
Dr. Doom has placed himself as the God of Battleworld, and this issue delves into the way he sees himself. It’s a good exploration of why Dr. Doom is among Marvel’s greatest villains. He’s an egomaniac, yet he’s smart and dangerous enough to earn his confidence. The world he’s created is complete with its own history, mythology and political system. Although he’s a villain, he sees himself as a noble person. What makes him interesting here is that he’s not without his insecurities as head of Battleworld.
Meanwhile, there are survivors from the last incursion, both heroes and villains. The good survivors include Reed Richards, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Phoenix Cyclops. Hopefully Cyclops’s inclusion means that the X-Men will involve themselves with the event’s solution. Of course, Thanos and his crew also survived, which will probably make things difficult for both the heroes and Doom. While the event still doesn’t quite have a clear direction, the fact that it can go almost anywhere is exciting, and at least the plot is starting to move.
The art by Esad Ribic is fantastic. There’s plenty of detail everywhere, whether it’s Doom’s shiny armour, the consistent wrinkles on Dr. Strange’s face or the rich backgrounds. Dr. Doom reshaping the walls in his castle with the wave of his hand emphasizes his power, and when he pulls off his mask in front of Invisible Woman it’s a horrifying sight, yet and you can still see the emotion on his face. Also I didn’t notice until I glanced through the art for this review, but Galactus is guarding Doom’s castle. That’s just awesome.
I’m still not fully convinced to stick with this event, but so far it’s much better than Hickman’s Infinity. Issue 2 took its time to build up the world while showing some of the conflicts between the territories and their Barons, and this issue starts moving the plot along. In some ways this feels like House of M, with only a handful of characters remembering the previous world, but on a bigger scale and with clearer villains. If any of this interests you, at least check this out. Besides, it’s pretty much guaranteed that this event will change the Marvel Universe going forward.