Secret Wars #8
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina
Low and behold, today is the release of “Secret Wars” #8 released today. We all thought it was a heinously stupid idea to postpone the universe relaunching event until after the relaunch but by golly were we wrong. Now that everything inside the pages have been made irrelevant we can admire the book for the fine work of craftsmanship it is, the zenith of beauty and action it represents. After all, with two additional months to work on it this book should read like a witty dalliance with Oscar Wilde instead of the transcripts of a fever riddled toddler smashing together all his action figures.
So a quick recap if you’re not familiar with the story. Doom remade the world because he became God. That’s pretty much the whole of it. So what happens in this issue? Everyone realizes their God is Doctor Doom and promptly decides to find the biggest pineapple to shove up his ass. Yep, it’s an all-out battle of good guys versus… actually it’s not even really clear who is fighting who. First there’s an army of Mister Sinister clones being tossed about. Then Maestro shows up with a bunch of Hulks and a Hellicarrier, is he fighting Doom or protecting Doom? It’s not really made clear. But there’s also Galactus who is being piloted by Franklin Rickards—also not sure on this, Franklin might have been doing his own thing around Galactus. Again, not really clear. And then Thanos is there with Annihilaus and he definitely hates Doom—but doesn’t he also hate the good guys? It’s like that Monty Python sketch where they reenact famous battles but it devolves into a slap fight with hand bags in the mud. So what exactly took so long that we had to wait two months?
Usually this is the point in when I relent and acknowledge something the book does well but I can’t do that with this book. Sure if every book came with a free bottle of sixteen year old Lagavulin I’d be more disposed to the book, at least I could explain the tardiness with the problems inherent in shipping a bottle of scotch wrapped in a comic book. No, unfortunately the book does nothing special. Sure a few of the fights were fun to look at but none of the art was particularly awe inspiring and even the few moments that were powerful were stunted by the fact that none of this matters. For example Ben Grim died in this book. That’s right, Franklin Richards simply blasted him into paving stones. But that doesn’t matter because I just saw Ben in the new Guardians book a month ago without a scratch on him so obviously things turn out all right. Remember how I said Maestro showed up? Ben squishes him and his Hellicarrier. Shocking right? It’s funny how he’s now the primary antagonist of “Contest of Champions”, so I guess that squishing didn’t take. Peter Quill? Cut to ribbons. Also has his own solo book, out now. So whatever happens in the last issue, even if it’s unprecedented and outrageous, perhaps the most compelling writing that’s ever been committed to print isn’t worth a gnat’s fart because none of the consequences carry over. The only good thing that can be said about this book is at least you can rest assured that nothing egregious happens to your favorite character because someone already came by with a magic wand and made it go away.
It would be easy for me to rail against all retcons and relaunches, write them off as hack storytelling and spectacle commercialization but that’s no longer the case and I think you can guess why. “Invincible” recently had Mark travel back in time to the first day he got his powers. That’s right, “Invincible” did a relaunch and so far it is amazing. Not only does he remember everything that happened, he’s also stuck back in his slim high school body, just discovering his powers. It’s this incredibly potent story of Mark wanting to make things better but also aching from all the emotional trauma he has to endure again. This is a relaunch that successfully captured that original wonder while building on it, making the story something bigger and not flushing away years of character development. So is “Secret Wars” #8 bad? Yes! We’re going by college rules here people. Every week it’s late it loses five percent from its grade. So with eight weeks of deduction the book would have to be perfect to get a 60%. And this book is far from perfect.