By Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina
Secret Wars proper is finally back, and it seems like writer/mastermind Jonathan Hickman has wasted no time in taking things to the next step. The first issue was the end of everything we knew in dramatic, jaw-dropping fashion. The second issue introduced us to this new Battleworld and exactly what roles are being played by whom and, generally, how the world works. What wasn’t really revealed was how long has it been like this? Who, assuming aside from God Emperor Doom, remembers the old worlds and what happened when 616 and 1610 crashed together?
Well, with issue three Hickman pulls back the curtain a few more inches and it’s glorious. We’re not sure, just yet, what’s making that bright, golden glow inside the case, but as mentioned before (when admitting I was wrong about Secret Wars) In Hickman We Trust and rest assured there are many more surprises to come. But back to the task at hand; it’s hard to find a writer, across the board, who seems to get all the characters that he’s put into his sandbox and, sure, Hickman has used the Fantastic Four and Doom and the Avengers for a long time now, and they continue to be great as he builds and molds them to fit this new world, but glimpses at other characters, like Captain Marvel or a certain spider-like person, are brilliant. It’s exciting to see who Hickman might pull in next; almost as exciting as where he’s headed with this culmination of his Marvel work.
Hickman’s revelations and new toys in this established sandbox (if we’re to continue with that metapho) promises to shake up the order that Doom has established and in the absolute best of ways. Hickman isn’t rushing himself, but he’s certainly moving at a quick pace considering the last few years of his Marvel work, but frankly the follow-up to this can’t come soon enough. Hell, just the implications of the battle to come between [redacted] and the Thor Corps is going to be something to see and if you’re behind you better get caught up quick so you can enjoy the fourth issue with the rest of us.
When it comes to the art, is anybody better suited to a task of this magnitude than Esad Ribic? Aside from maybe cover artist Alex Ross, who is arguably producing some of the best covers of his career, the answer is a resounding, ‘hell no!’ because Ribic is also producing some of the best work of his career. If you thought his work was fantastic in Thor: God of Thunder, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet because at every turn it seems Ribic one-ups himself with a fantastic character design, or facial expression or stunning scenery or, hell, just the eyes of Doom staring through his mask. Ribic is one of those guys that just constantly steps his game up and never seems to pull back; on the contrary, he seems to always push himself forward to hit that next level, to make that quizzical expression more accurate, to give these characters we are all so fond of a life all their own.
Ive Svorcina color work continues to be phenomenal; the perfect melding of pencils, ink and colors not only makes Ribic’s work look so good, though his line work of course is a new level of greatness, but it powerfully adds to the weight and epic-ness that Hickman is clearly striving for with Secret Wars. The touch to Doom’s eyes or Strange’s for that matter, just that subtle hint of color, is brilliant. Not to mention, of course, the softer palette choices that beautifully complements the softer pencil and ink work from Ribic.
If the word ‘brilliant’ or ‘amazing’ or ‘fantastic’ haven’t been used enough above, just say those three words half a dozen more times, and maybe you’ll understand just how good Secret Wars is. Not only this issue, but the intricate and deep tale that Hickman has been weaving and adjusting and changing for years now that are all finally coming together and as long as we’ve waited and as much as we’ve enjoyed his work, it just can’t seem to come fast enough. They’re so well thought out and so excellently crafted and executed that you can’t help but get sucked in and pulled along for the ride. A new universe is here for any Marvel fan, new or old, and Secret Wars is destined to become the best Marvel event in the history of the company (that’s right, I went there), so you’d better jump on now before you’re left behind.