Secret Wars began in May of last year – May 2nd if you include the Free Comic Book Day’s 0 issue. After several large delays and splitting issue 7 into two separate issues, Secret Wars is finally over with issue 9. It’s actually been a very good event but I’m glad to get it over with. With that said, is Secret Wars 9 a satisfying conclusion?
The last three issues are all one giant fight in Battleworld, but this issue reveals the true purpose of that battle. The real confrontation takes place in Molecule Man’s room, between Reed Richards and Victor Doom in their ultimate showdown. The showdown itself feels like it could have been bigger in terms of a fight, but the real focus is the mutual rivalry and respect they have for each other. In many ways, it’s more of an emotional confrontation and writer Jonathan Hickman nails that quite well. That’s not to say there isn’t any intense fighting in this issue though – Black Panther with the Infinity Gauntlet takes on Dr. Doom in a pretty epic matchup, and even 616 Reed Richards has a quick yet great fight with The Maker (Ultimate Reed Richards). The ending to that particular fight is kind of hilarious.
While the action in this issue is good, it’s the conclusion that really makes or breaks this issue, and that’s this issue’s strong point. The conclusion is broken up into four scenes, each flow from one to another quite well. First, there’s Black Panther talking about Wakanda’s new place in the world, and it helps lead up to the wonderful Ultimates series that’s 3 issues in. The second scene shows Peter Parker and Miles Morales speaking with each other, and it explains why Miles’s mother is alive again. The third scene is the longest and the most important. It explains exactly where Reed, Susan, Franklin and Valeria Richards are, as well as the Future Foundation. Without spoilers, let’s just say their role in the Universe is much more important than it used to be. The last scene is short, but shows what happened to Dr. Doom in the aftermath. It’s a nice moment and the perfect closer to Dr. Doom’s story in Secret Wars. Hickman turned Marvel’s biggest comic event into one giant Fantastic Four story, and since this is a celebration of the Marvel Universe that began with the Fantastic Four 75 years ago, it’s perfectly fitting.
The art by Esad Ribic is fantastic. While the battle scene mostly focuses on Dr. Doom vs. Black Panther and Namor, there’s still a sense of grand scope with all the surrounding dust, debris and bodies. You can see their emotions just by their body language. The closing scenes have so much environmental detail and such good lighting effects that some panels almost look like a photo. The real highlight with the art is the Fantastic Four pages at the end though, but I won’t spoil them. The colouring by Ive Svorcina is fantastic throughout. The comic is bright and colourful when it needs to be, and even in the overly bright Molecular Man’s room, it’s still easy to see what’s going on.
Will Hickman’s Secret Wars stand the test of time like the famous events of the past? Only time will tell, but first my impression says that it’s a very good story that’s somehow huge in scale, yet tells a very personal story at the same time. Dr. Doom’s characterization throughout this entire event is pretty much perfect. The whole thing ends up being a great Fantastic Four story in the end. Unlike a lot of Marvel events in the past this actually feels important, and that is reason enough to read Secret Wars if you haven’t already.