Secret Wars #1
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Esad Ribic, Ive Svorcina
I don’t hate “Secret Wars”. Perhaps that’s not the best foot to start on… “Secret Wars” is definitely better than eating powdered glass—nope did it again. The problem is that I’m predisposed to roll my eyes at “Secret Wars” before we even talk about how we already did this. The first misstep happened months ago in the midst of another big crossover event: “Axis”. It was billed as an event that would bring about the end of the Marvel universe. And I read that and then looked to the top of the page at the banner ad that read, “In four months everything ends, Secret Wars”. I’d like to point out that the Apocalypse loses a bit of its gusto if it happens every Tuesday. But oh well, let’s see what is going to destroy the universe this time.
An important detail to remember in all this is that Jonathan Hickman has been setting up “Secret Wars” since the end of the last “Secret Wars” or at least it seems that way. Since Hickman took over every book with the word “Avengers” in the title, he’s been talking nonstop about the multiverse smashing together like an accordion. So props to him for setting up this big bad event, the trouble is that DC did the same thing with a single zero issue. I know traditionally I use this column to compare one book to “Invincible” but come on. “Secret Wars” and “Convergence” are as distinguishable as the Kardashians. So let’s go through those few differences.
The first thing that leaps out is “Convergence” was caused by one person, Brainiac and by extension Telios. “Secret Wars” just kind of happened? It’s a bit tougher to lock down because the first one was caused by the Beyonder and Marvel is noncommittal about if he’s back. However, according to the first issue, everything just smashed together of its own accord almost as if everything sucked so much it imploded. Here’s another difference: these two have been billed as an all-out brawl amongst their own respective universe; “Convergence” #1 put the fighters in the ring and rang the bell. Meanwhile, “Secret Wars” was busy putzing around with a war between the 616 universe and the Ultimates universe. It’s a great fight, very dramatic and action packed but I can guarantee nobody out there was rooting for the Ultimates universe—and towards the end it seemed Hickman wasn’t either. They started with a strong frontal assault with a thousand helicarriers flooding the sky and before long the 616 was giving the Ultimates universe a wedgie and a wet willie. But all that was for naught because crazy Reed Richards—no, not that one, Ultimates Reed Richards unveiled his secret plan… to destroy both universes anyway? And that’s the last page so…
These two crossovers weigh heavy on me. On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to peek into neglected corners of the franchises that get ignored, a chance to write stories about fan favorite cult figures without having to justify an ongoing series. The down side of this however is that these kinds of stories represent my least favorite aspect of superheroes: heroes fighting heroes. It’s the definitive “If X fought Y, who would win?” It’s a constant dick measuring that makes me sigh in frustration every time. Because heroes don’t fight heroes. Not once have I seen the fire department start trading blows with paramedics and short of a “West Side Story” style dance fight, I have no desire to either. These kinds of fights cater to the bizarre group of fans that want to see Spider-man punch Captain America in the mouth no matter how much it doesn’t make sense. But I suppose if we’re going to get this sort of thing anyway, “Secret Wars” is a better way than a brick to the head—ugh, I really need to work on that.
You know? With the amount of time “Invincible” has been in print, there hasn’t really been a time when everyone dropped what they were doing to have a punch up with the other heroes. There was the time Mark got stuck in another universe fighting hundreds of copies of himself. I know I’ve talked about it before so instead let’s focus on how he got there. It was another clever ploy by Angstrom Levy. He played off Mark’s intense hatred and temper, putting Atom Eve in peril and forcing a confrontation. In this instance, Mark is completely justified in lashing out at Angstrom but as a reader we all know he’s doing this to trick Mark into a trap. In “Secret Wars” they did something similar with evil Reed Richards, though he didn’t really have an endgame. If the two universes were going to destroy each other anyway, it seems a lot of fuss to make sure they destroy each other.