This is review contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read ‘Secret Wars’ #9, stop reading now.
By Jarrod Jones. And so it ends. Finally.
Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic’s Secret Wars #9 is a fitting end to a saga that just might be the greatest company-wide crossover Marvel Comics has ever published. One read-through of the highly anticipated ninth issue makes that abundantly clear. But in order to properly enjoy this finale, you ought to follow one piece of advice: set aside the last two months of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe, just for a little bit. Seems like an impossible task, I know. But rest assured that any nagging questions you’ve had about certain characters in the shiny-new Marvel U will finally be answered. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Maybe bring a handkerchief.
It’s an event comic with a scale that desaturates the severity of all other event comics. I can’t recall reading an event that had this much heart attached to its unnerving depth — it’s likely the last time such a feat was accomplished was when DC Comics uprooted their own reality in 1986 with Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I can say with confidence that Secret Wars is the first crossover in the thirty years since that could touch it. Maybe even eclipse it. Its scope is tremendous. And yet Secret Wars is more intimate than that.
You can place the blame for this lump-in-your-throat intimacy squarely on the capable shoulders of Jonathan Hickman, whose appreciation and respect (perhaps fear?) of Battleworld’s demigod, Doctor Doom, is the beating heart of Wars. As the Alpha and Omega of Hickman’s cosmic brouhaha, Doom’s presence in Secret Wars only further cements his place as the preeminent heavy for the Marvel Universe. There are none who have the operatic sincerity, or the out-right romanticism of Doom. He’s the only villain who — through the sheer power of their own ambition — could actually reforge an entire galaxy. Magneto, eat your heart out.
But Doctor Doom, despite his Super Saiyan levels of power, is still at heart Victor Von Doom. Trapped by his own vanity, his own desires, his own hatred. His iron grip on all which he holds dear (a world in his visage, an army at his command, Sue Storm) is only just as powerful as his deep-rooted hatred for his greatest adversary, Dr. Reed Richards. But only just. It’s that animosity that Hickman puts at the forefront of Marvel’s staggering crossover, and while series artist Esad Ribic offers us a legion of Thors battling a horde of zombies (but one of a hundred images that add up to the best work of his career thus far), it’s the final, titanic struggle of ideologies between Doom and Mr. Fantastic (scientific and otherwise) that will have your heart performing backflips in your chest. Secret Wars‘ primary function may be to give us one final cosmic hurrah (until the next one), but at its core, it also operates as one of the finest Fantastic Four sagas ever told.
And all impressions indicate that — for the foreseeable future, anyway — it’s definitely the last one.
I can’t help but shake the feeling that Hickman’s ending — a stupendous finale that feels more permanent than it should — comes from a place that fulfills a political agenda rather than a narrative one. If you’re amongst the many who felt compelled to start a #WheresSue or #WheresReed campaign for Marvel’s All-New direction, well. Prepare yourselves. It’s all in a line delivered by Richards towards the end of his grapple with Doom: “… you know what’s not easy? Having your life erased because someone wants to indulge themselves.” That one line may have betrayed Marvel’s true motives behind Secret Wars, illustrated by Hickman’s own private soapbox soliloquy.
Once Franklin Richards, dear Franklin Richards, with his amazing abilities, his fantastic lineage, looks to his old man with widest of eyes and asks, “… are we not super heroes anymore?” you’ll know that Secret Wars just gave us one of the most meaningful events in comics history. And if the point of all this was to give us one final glimpse at how vital Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and their entire Fantastic family was — is — to the Marvel Universe, if the point was to show how important these characters were to our lives, I would say this…
Written by Jonathan Hickman.
Art by Esad Ribic.
Colors by Ive Svorcina.
Letters by Clayton Cowles.
10 out of 10