Just when they confirmed that Secret Wars 9 won’t come out until next year, they delayed it yet another week. Imagine someone saying “this is me being surprised” with a completely blank expression on their face. That’s pretty much my reaction. But in the long run, it’s better to delay an event on this scale than to rush it out with a fill-in artist. So, how much of a climax does Secret Wars 8 give us?
Secret Wars 7 and 8 were originally going to be the same issue, but writer Jonathan Hickman split it in two when it became too big to contain in one issue. And that’s pretty much how this comic feels. It’s a giant battle that gets bigger every few pages. The giant Thing joins the fray and duels Galactus. The monsters from beyond the wall break through and cause chaos. Dr. Doom himself joins the fray and starts killing things. Peter Quill does something to the world tree that’s just plain awesome. A pure action issue on its own doesn’t make for a great comic though. Maybe fun, but not great.
Thankfully there are some big story advancements in this issue along with the action. 616 and Ultimate Reed Richards make their way toward Doom’s power source. On the way, they meet two people that we’ve been waiting for them to run into. Sadly we don’t see anything more than their reactions just yet. Doom also shows a few emotions of his own. For the first time in this event, he actually looks worried. None of this would carry much weight if not for the great character development from earlier in this series, but when you add everything together, it feels like this event will read very well as a whole.
The art by Esad Ribic is fantastic. He perfectly captures the epic scale of the battle. You truly feel the scale of giant Thing fighting Galactus, with all the smoke filling the panel behind them. The backgrounds are often complete with environmental details or hordes of people fighting. One scene in the dark basement of Doom’s castle is filled with debris and dust, and it almost looks real at times. Facial expressions, while sometimes exaggerated, do a great job at conveying emotion. Most of the character moments are shown through the art this way. The colouring by Ive Svorcina is also great. Although there’s a lot of orange thanks to all the fire and explosions, there’s still a lot of variety with the colouring, making this comic appealing to the eye.
It’s frustrating that this even isn’t over yet, and funny that a bunch of new titles are already releasing, but at least Secret Wars is actually good. There’s no better way to celebrate the Marvel Universe’s 75th anniversary by showcasing its greatest villain, Dr. Doom, while writing a story that manages to include so many other great characters at least in the backgrounds. Anyone who reads Marvel should at least give Secret Wars a chance, and especially if you like the Fantastic Four.