Time for another review!
This time around, it’s the mega-event, Secret Wars #1 from Marvel. This thing is written by Jonathan Hickman, with Esad Ribic on art and Ive Svorcina on colors. The letterer is the redoubtable Chris Eliopoulos. The assistant editors (who did most of the heavy lifting) are Jon Moisan and Alanna Smith, with Tom Brevoort and Will Moss serving as editors.
As always, we’re on the Prince song system: Adore means buy it, Beautiful Strange means take it or leave it, and When Doves Cry means don’t buy it.
Let’s get to it!
The story is simple: for whatever reason, the Powers That Be at Marvel seem to be ending the 616 and Ultimate universes—basically, the entire line of comics. On the surface, this smacks of a DC Crisis or the New 52, but I’m not willing to go that far just as yet. How are the universes ending? By fighting each other, of course. This is comics! How else are these things supposed to happen?
For all intents and purposes, the two worlds are crashing into one another, and few expect to survive. Of course, the Reed Richards of 616 has a plan to survive, but like all good plans, it doesn’t survive first contact. Or even second contact. Things are looking bleak, and there are a lot of moving parts…but I didn’t feel overly lost. Only a few details make me feel lost, but I could follow the story with no problem whatsoever.
I’m a Marvel head, but as an adult with bills to pay, I can’t pick up every book the way I used to. So I have questions: why does the Hulk have a Mohawk and is called Doc Green? Why does Captain Marvel have a Mohawk and a Kree helmet? Why does The Thing look strange? Why does Sue Storm look like she’s wearing a Shield uniform? Why does Storm have a scar over her eye? Why are the Guardians of the Galaxy on Earth? Why is Reed Richards of the Ultimate universe a bad guy? (I have an iPhone, so that question was answered for me via the Marvel Augmented Reality app.) So I have questions, but not having the answers didn’t hinder the enjoyment of the story for me. I know the overwhelming bulk of the characters, so the two who are new to me, Pod and Manifold, don’t hold as much mystery as they could have if I had just picked up a Marvel comic for the very first time in my life. I’m good with not knowing who they are.
Since this is the first issue, you’d expect a lot of setup. And there is—it just isn’t boring. There were a lot of moving parts before this first issue in order to get the characters where they needed to be, because the action is already happening when you crack open the cover. You have Doom and a couple of others (Dr. Strange and someone else I don’t recognize) addressing the Beyonder(s)(?)(!), then we go to the Ultimate universe and see Reed being evil and talking to Thanos and company, then we go to 616 and see “our” Reed trying to save humanity, and then the fighting and collapsing of plans that are the hallmark of a good superhero comic that’s playing for all the marbles.
Basically, this is top-notch writing.
It’s also top-notch art. Esad Ribic knows how to produce gorgeous art. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Of course the proportions are all correct and the visual storytelling is there and the eye is led across the page the way it’s supposed to be… I mean, there isn’t anything bad I can say about what I was looking at. It’s just a gorgeous looking book.
The colors are also extremely well done. I loved the palette, and everything looked the way it should. This isn’t always the case. To say that the colors are lush is to say something. Take Spider-Gwen. That book basically had two colors running through it, when it should have had a lot more. Spider-Woman, while having a wider range of colors, was also something of a limited palette. There were no limits here. I loved it.
Lettering: Chris Eliopoulos messed up only once, and that was in not having one of Iron Man’s word balloons point toward his mouth. Didn’t even point toward his body, to tell the truth. That jumped out at me.
But one thing that might have been noticed only subconsciously? The Ultimate universe heroes are all sentence-case with their dialogue, and the 616 are all upper-case. That could be a little bit of a headache to keep track of, and there are a lot of words in this book. More than you probably think. Sometimes the amount of dialogue and the art made for some challenging choices, but overall, this was very good work by Mr. Eliopoulos.
The editing was also very good. There was no padding here. Every single panel had a purpose, which isn’t always the case. Every single word not only had purpose, but was true to character, which is also saying something when you’re dealing with 57 characters, and fully three dozen of them have speaking parts. The only error was not having one of Iron Man’s word balloons point toward him.
This was a very good show all around. Everyone put in the work, and I’m excited to see what happens next.
Final Verdict: Adore