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Editorial: I Was Wrong About Secret Wars

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Well, here we are. Mark your calendars, take screen caps, write it down, carve it into stone… basically, make a record of this: I was wrong about Secret Wars. Okay, sure, issue two was only just released and it’s fair to say that two issues does not a great series make, but considering my own personal negativity and reluctance to even read the series I’d say that these two issues have turned everything around.

initially, I was very blah on the whole idea. DC’s Convergence has completely pulled me off buying DC Comics (and rightfully so, have you read that crap? Yikes) and so being soured on that idea I was naturally soured on the idea behind Secret Wars and “Battleworld” and long-established universes ending and stuff that I love changing. If there’s one thing comic fans both fear and loathe, seemingly and only as a general rule, it’s change. Particularly when it comes to something as long running as the Marvel Universe.

Lots of us grew up with these guys and gals and we hold them close to our hearts. We see them on TV and on the big screen and our hearts soar (for the most part) so when you hear that everything is changing (there’s that word again) it’s only natural to hiss loudly and crawl back into the shadows away from that burning ball of fire in the skies. Also, no, that wasn’t a shot at the typical “nerd” person, that was just that change is bright and it burns us, tricksy Hobbitses. Anyway, yes, change is scary. Putting everything good, more or less, essentially from the dawn of Marvel into one world not only sounds like a cash grab, it sounds like a fucking mess.

But in Hickman we trust.

Seriously, even forgetting all of his amazing work with creator owned projects and earlier Marvel work (have you read his Fantastic Four and subsequent FF series?) this man is an absolute genius, and that’s said in the same breath as admitting that, yes, I fell off his Avengers/New Avengers series simply because there was so much going on and I had to make cuts. I was wrong about choosing those as my cuts, but that’s a whole other article that I don’t want to cram into the middle of this one.

But, back to the topic at hand here. His Fantastic Four run might be one of the best runs within that corner of the Marvel Universe since ol’ Stan and Jack created it. I know, I know. That is a huge statement to make–especially considering how much I love John Byrne’s run–but still. His Avengers/New Avengers runs are great, from the first half or so that I’ve read and shut up, shut up I’m reading the rest on Marvel Unlimited, so it should have been a no-brainer to get and get behind Secret Wars. But, I was a fool.

Admittedly, Marvel’s most recent events haven’t been very good. I love Rick Remender (read and buy the fuck out of his Fear Agent) but I didn’t enjoy and didn’t even finish AXIS. I also skipped Original Sin and Jason Aaron is a beast and the ones before that either didn’t work for me or I had no interest in and avoided and then, thanks to Marvel Unlimited, was proven right for skipping. I just don’t believe that Marvel has success with “events” so it soured me on the whole idea. But, again, in Hickman we trust; how could I be so stupid?

Jonathan Hickman is a genius; he slow burns his work and the payoff, if you’ve been paying attention, is immense. So how the hell could Secret Wars be any different? I really don’t know what I was expecting, but two issues in it’s taken any notions of what this was supposed to be or what I thought it was going to be and it’s turned them on its head. An entire police corps of Thors? Yes, please. The pivitol role that Doctor Doom is playing? Abso-fucking-lutely (note: I didn’t want to spoil exactly what that is if you, like me initially, stayed away). The sheer possibilities of all the different countries, or whatever they are (it escapes me) from all around the Marvel Universe in one locale? You know what, that is actually turning out to be amazing.

Issue number one, really, was the ending to what we all know and love while issue two began building the new status quo (at least for now, maybe it’ll change?) and all of it was amazing. I know here on All-Comic issue number two was only given three stars, but I’m here to tell you that I disagree with that assessment and would easily give that issue five stars (to go along with issue one) because of all the implications that it had on this new universe that a departing Hickman is crafting.

The ideas that Hickman is bringing to this and, of course, Esad Ribic’s incredible art, has already made this one of those books, or events in this case, that you know will be talked about for years to come. Not just because it changes everything, but because of the craft and ideas that are going into it. It’s not a fluff event, and it doesn’t feel like Hickman is out of control of it like some of the previous events. Certainly Hickman isn’t solo in what he’s crafting, but it still feels like a Hickman book and that’s important to everything from the tone to the eventual payoff.

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I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I was wrong. I was wrong to judge Secret Wars, as so many of us have and do, because this idea is turning out to be one of the best from comics in a good long while. It’s not the same old bullshit, it’s something more. It’s like… the comic event we need, but not the one we deserve. Hickman is paying off stuff, seemingly, from everything he’s ever done at Marvel. He’s creating new takes on old characters, interesting worlds and scenarios and, mostly importantly (just in case you missed it) he’s doing something different.

Sure, change is scary as hell, but one more time for good measure, in Hickman we trust. Secret Wars is already something special and most certainly something that you need to be checking out, regardless of cover price or any misconceived notions or ideas of what this is or what this is supposed to be. I was worried because Marvel was producing books that I loved (in fact, books that both my wife and I love, dearly) and Secret Wars was (and still is) putting an end to it. But this is the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s going to be damn interesting to see what they do with it. Where can they go? What does this really mean for the new status quo? Will Thanos ever love again? Okay, maybe not that last one, but still.

Secret Wars presents a new future; something that is different from the potentially bland stuff you’ve been reading (although, really, a lot of Marvel books have been fantastic lately). Secret Wars is something that we can all start on and get behind and it feels fresh and maybe it is a reboot, but I don’t think they’re going to make the same mistakes DC made (is making) with their line wide reboot. I don’t know how this is going to play out and, hey, I’m more than ready to admit down the line that I was initially right about this being terrible if that’s how it turns out, but hey, the feeling from these two issues is that that’s not going to be the case at all. Secret Wars is that something that you’ve been looking for and didn’t know it. It’s a fresh beginning, a new take and a new look at characters you’ve loved your whole life while also being a launch pad for characters that you’re going to love.

If you’re not reading Secret Wars you need to remedy that. I was wrong to judge this series and if you’ve done the same thing that I have, you’re wrong too. The last page of #1 might make you weep uncontrollably (I didn’t, but you might. It’s full of feels) and only a few pages into #2 you’re going to jump off your couch/chair/the ground and freak out with what Hickman has done with Doom. It’s that kind of series and you need to be reading it. Plain and simple.

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  • Sherman

    The payoff you describe is definitely part of what is making this work so well. Now go back and imagine that DC had used Final Crisis to launch their new universe rather than Flashpoint. I think we could agree that the payoff for Grant Morrison’s entire work at DC could be found in that title (he’s further expanded on that payoff with Multiversity), whereas Flashpoint didn’t resonate the same way. I wonder if many of the pitfalls that the New 52 has faced would have been averted had it begun on a more substantial foundation. We never did get to see Morrison’s Fifth World, and that could have been a central component of the New 52 that never was.

    Since you didn’t mention it, I think the biggest tell that this event was going to be good was that Infinity also kicked ass. Easily the best event since Civil War, and I hope you get to catch up to it. It certainly had some holes (what events don’t), but when read in conjunction with his Avengers titles, Infinity really worked.

    Looking forward to seeing where Secret Wars takes us.

    • Right! INFINITY was amazing. I completely overlooked it when writing this for some reason. Oh man. Fail. Also thanks for the comment! I’m at the Original Sin AVENGERS stuff currently so we’ll see.