Secret Wars was originally supposed to end last month. It was also supposed to be an 8 issue series. Now it’s 9, and there are still 2 more issues to go. In a world where trade paperbacks are slowly taking over the market, delaying an event like this is probably for the better if it means writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic can tell the story they want. It’s also less frustrating now that all the new titles are starting to release anyway. That doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to be frustrated, but still.
Secret Wars 7 kicks off the event’s final battle with an all-out invasion of Doom’s fortress. Almost everyone in Battleworld picks a side, or will pick a side by the end of the issue. The Thors are at war with each other, with the majority of them fighting against Doom. Maestro leads an army of Hulks. Even with all of this going on, there’s still room for both character moments and story development. Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister each get some lines of dialogue that perfectly fit their characters and add some amusing moments.
Most of the character moments are about Mr. Fantastic and Black Panther, as they make preparations for their own final moves. Black Panther’s interactions with the undead at the very end might actually be this issue’s real highlight. If there is a downside to all of this, it’s that Dr. Doom doesn’t get much panel time. For an event that’s mostly focused on Doom as a character, he only has a couple of lines.
Ribic’s art is fantastic. Even with all the fighting that’s going on, and all the characters involved, it’s still an easy issue to follow. There’s a real sense of progress in the fight. The detail in everything is impressive. The external shot of Doomgard almost looks like a photo, and the environmental detail is prevalent throughout the issue. Facial expressions capture people’s emotions well, whether it’s the sense of betrayal in Doom’s eyes, Mr. Sinister’s mischievous grin or the vacant stare on zombie Captain Britain. The colouring by Ive Svorcina is equally impressive; this is a very colourful book, with great shading effects used frequently.
I should briefly mention Thors 4 by Jason Aaron. Like Secret Wars 6 and Siege 4, Thors 4 and Secret Wars 7 both work better when they’re read side-by-side (Thors 4 just before Secret Wars 7). The ending of Thors 4 leads directly into the main battle, with most of the Thors picking sides in the war after they learn what’s going on. It’s a fantastic comic in its own right, and a great conclusion to the equally great Thors mini-series. The art by Chris Sprouse and colouring by Israel Silva is also great. Whether you’re a Thor fan or a female Thor fan, you should pick this mini-series up even if you’re ignoring Secret Wars.
It’s not very often that an event comic actually works from start to finish, but so far, Secret Wars is managing. The first issue feels more like a prelude that maybe should have been several issues long, but the rest of this event is a surprisingly character focused story. Doom’s built an interesting world and it highlights his personality, but it’s crumbling also exposes his character flaws. Even if this issue doesn’t give him that much page time, Secret Wars is a celebration of Dr. Doom, who is quite possibly the greatest villain in the Marvel Universe. This is an important event for both Doom fans and anyone who cares about what’s going on with the Marvel Universe, so thankfully it’s good.
Secret Wars 7: 8.5/10
Thors 4: 8/10
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This was pretty OK. The big chaotic battle was fun. But there was so little characterization, which is typical of events and of Hickman’s Avengers.