Marvel’s largest event of the year is half-way done, and what an intense issue today’s entry is. Much of Secret Wars 4 is an action issue, with the survivors of 616 and the Ultimate Universe facing off against an army of Thors, Dr. Strange and even Doom himself.
Writer Jonathan Hickman finds a great balance between the action and the storytelling. The issue opens up with Dr. Strange explaining to the surviving heroes what’s going on with Battleworld, how Dr. Doom created it and more about its nature. Those who read enough of the tie-ins have figured out most of what he says by now, but it’s still nice that some of Battleworld’s mythology is confirmed. During the fight scene between the Thors and the cabal (mostly made up of villains), Doom watches from his palace and discusses strategies with Susan and Valeria, adding depth to his leadership style and his relationship with his “family”.
All the writing here works. It’s made clear that Doom envied Mr. Fantastic in the old universe, yet when they meet, he still shows respect for his long-time rival. Their brief conversation is very well written. The action feels appropriately big. While Secret Wars 3 showed Doom’s soft side and vulnerabilities, this issue shows off Doom’s prowess in combat and his brutality. There are several apparent deaths in this issue, but at least in one case, it’s most likely not going to stick even to the end of this event. These last 3 issues really show every general side to Doom’s personality.
The art by Esad Ribic is also great. Everything is well detailed, including the varied environments, a wide range of characters or the powers being used in the fight. There’s a good variety of Thors, including warthog head Thor and one with blue tattoos. Facial expression capture emotions very well, whether it’s Doom’s anger at people’s insolence, Mr. Fantastic’s weary gaze or Dr. Strange’s wide range of reactions to everything that’s happening.
At this point, it’s clear that one way or another, the heroes will unite against Doom, possibly with some of those native to Battleworld. With an event this large there is so much that could go wrong with the writing, but keeping the character focus on Doom and a handful of survivors from the old Universe is working so far. For an event that’s also celebrating the Marvel Universe’s 75th anniversary, focusing on one of its oldest and best villains, Doom, is for the best. Secret Wars almost feels like his story. This is a great event so far, even if the first issue is just ok. This is definitely worth picking up if you’re a Marvel fan who isn’t completely tired of events.