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‘Secret Wars’ #2 welcomes us to Battleworld

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Secret Wars #2
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Esad Ribic
Colors by Ive Svorcina
Published by Marvel Comics

On “Californication”, the Red Hot Chili Peppers observe that “destruction leads to a very rough road, but it also breeds creation”, a theory that Marvel apparently agrees with, as from the destruction of Earth-616 and Earth-1610 comes the genesis of Battleworld. Even though it’s about 30 years too late, Secret Wars is Marvel’s response to Crisis on Infinite Earths, and because of the sheer scope of the calamity at hand, this is the first time since Civil War that the actual crisis justifies a massive crossover event.
Whereas issue #1 portrays the titanic war between the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, issue #2 introduces Battleworld, an amalgamation of fractured dimensions all ruled by the hand of Dr. Doom. As an X-Men loyalist, easily the best part of this issue was seeing Mr. Sinister with his traditional flat-top haircut….the real source of his visual appeal and dubiousness. For some reason, Sinister is just cooler when he looks like a member of the early-90s New York Knicks. As a sane and objective comic book reader however, watching Doom play God is automatically going to add intrigue, and when done properly, as Hickman has always done, allows Dr. Doom becomes the most engaging character in the plot.
Watching Doom rule with an almost democratic, yet characteristically ruthless paternalism sustains the majority of the issue. On Battleworld, Doom is not only God, but also a Kurtz like figure from “Heart of Darkness”. He is on his own, superior level while everyone else simply gazes in astonishment. By the second issue, Doom has ascended from mere royalty to godhood. It’ll be interesting to see how Hickman contrasts the good Doctor’s latest foray into divinity with his previous bout as described in Hickman’s final issue of Fantastic Four. The last time Dr. Doom ruled over creation, damning results were had, and to mask his failure, Doom merely replied that being a god was “beneath” him.
That’s just one of the threads from previous runs that Hickman tugs on. Readers further glimpse Maker (Earth-1610 Reed Richard) descent into madness, as well as Galactus’ subservient relationship with Franklin Richards, and Dr. Strange’s discipleship towards Dr. Doom. Hickman focuses on the right elements in setting this new environment combined from Marvel’s most popular storylines. The idea of this religious cult of Thor’s designated to do Doom’s will is pure genius, and the narrative of the story, told through the eyes of a Thor’s first day on the job easily and accessibly introduces readers to Battleworld. The only issue with the narrative is the way that the (presumed) conflict is introduced. It’s introduced the exact same way that every Marvel alternate universe storyline is set up: Age of X, Age of Apocalypse, Future Imperfect, etc… Someone finds something that they’re not supposed to, something that can threaten to bring down the status quo, and they therefore become a threat themselves. Most likely, that individual will wind up being Valeria Richards, the biggest troublemaker of the entire Marvel multiverse.
Although Esad Ribic is most definitely suited for the challenge of drawing such a sprawling event, there are times, particularly when it comes to drawing facial expressions, where maybe someone like Jerome Opena, or Steven Epting would have been a more appropriate choice. In one panel, Apocalypse looks like he’s about to cry,while in another, the Braddock brothers look like their eyes are about to jump right out of their faces. However, Ribic does draw the S and M inspired Goblin Queen very well… For a world made up of fragments of an eclectic multiverse, the colors are drab to the point where they seem to sulk into the page, instead of popping out to grab the reader’s attention. For such a serious and immense event, there times where the cartoonish facial expressions detracts from the gravity of the situation.
Despite it though, Secret Wars is well worth the admission price of $5, as it feels like an actual event, a crisis where everything is at stake and anything can happen. Hickman is the guy that Marvel should have turned to years ago for their event comics, as he’s certainly making up for lost times. Although it’s most likely a marketing excuse to get the comic books in line with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Secret Wars is gearing up to be a damn good excuse.


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