Secret Wars was Marvel’s first really big arc and they really knew how to make it exciting. There was never an arc quite like this nor shall there ever be again. It was a one of a kind deal and even if similar plots come out, you cannot hope to pass the sheer originality of this event. I think that Civil War may be my favorite Marvel arc, but I have not technically read all of it so this is officially my favorite Marvel event arc. It’s just brilliant and it’s probably one of the best comics that I have ever read. So much happened in these issues and you can tell that they really put a lot of effort into it.
Marvel is planning a new Secret Wars arc coming soon since they have had fun revisiting old arcs. The new version sounds pretty fun as well, but it looks to be pretty rushed. This one had a lot of characters, but they made sure that a good amount of them got some proper screentime. The new arc is following the “Bigger is Better” motto a little too seriously as the number of fighters has been multiplied several times over. Considering that there can only be so many issues in the main series, we’re not really going to get to see most of the fights. I still do have hopes for it to be one of the best Marvel arcs ever though. All right, time to go back to the plot for this arc!
A lot of heroes had been going through their days like any other when a mysterious spaceship appeared. Some of the heroes fearlessly go into it while others are pretty cautious and carefully set foot inside. It doesn’t matter how you go in though because you end up being trapped either way. The X-Men, Avengers, Spider Man, and the Fantastic Four minus Sue Storm end up on the other side. That’s some serious firepower, but an essentially equally powerful group of villains also arrives. They include Dr Doom, Ultron, Galactus, (Starting to seem a little unfair right?) The Lizard, Magneto, and more. A mysterious being known as the Beyonder has brought them here to engage in the ultimate battle of life and death. Good vs Evil! The winning side will naturally be the correct side and everyone is stuck in this dimension until the war is over. Make no mistake…this is War! Both sides begin to choose their captains and a strategic battle of territories begin with these characters.
The plot begins to shift as the story arc goes on though. It’s originally a big war, but eventually the war is over. Unfortunately, one player deviates from the script and gains unimaginable power. This means that everyone will have to stop this person, but that’ll be tough when he can literally do anything. It’s going to take the will to survive (Which actually comes into play) and some actual power if the heroes want to get out of this alive. Hopefully the rest of the heroes are able to do all right for themselves over on Earth without their power hitters….hopefully!
One of the fun things about this arc is the fact that most of the characters have barely worked with the others if they even have at all! The X-Men are distrusted by most of the other heroes and they don’t do a whole lot here to improve their image. Other teams like the Fantastic Four and the Avengers get along pretty flawlessly. After all, there’s nothing suspect about Mr Fantastic and his crew right?
Mr Fantastic does look pretty good by the way. His role isn’t huge, but he’s acknowledged as a very smart individual even if he does let himself get pushed around by Captain America for a while. He’s just a little too selfless for his own good at times. (He also continues to outshine the Hulk, which is great) The Thing actually doesn’t mention how much he wants to be human that much here, but he can shift between forms for some reason so I guess it’s just not much of an issue at the moment. The Thing is always ready to fight and he was one of the first heroes to suggest that they go after She Hulk so he definitely gets some credit there.
Spider Man dons his black suit for the first time and that is something that is probably not as well known as it should be. He looks pretty great as you would expect and he dodges just about every attack that is shot at him. This is the dependable Spider Man that we used to know and we hope that he returns someday. He’s always in control of the situation. She Hulk is with the group, but she likes to fight solo, which can be dangerous. She runs off to face a few of the villains and that plan really doesn’t work out that well for her. She was outnumbered 5-1 and all 5 of the villains possessed super strength. I’m sure that the Hulk would have handled those odds, but while the She Hulk is strong, she’s not quite at Hulk’s level.
The Hulk has a rivalry with Mr Fantastic in this volume and he’s pretty obsessed over it. Bruce is in complete control for the arc so his strength is very limited, but it means that we can see him brag a lot. He seriously won’t stop and you can tell that he does not want to be here. It’s really hard to fight alongside him since you can’t trust anything that he does. He is very quick to go against his comrades although he would never go as far as to join the enemies. He’s simply a thorn in everyone’s path. I liked the fact that Bruce insults everyone whenever he finds the time, (Which is often) but it can also make you just want him to be taken back home at times.
Captain America looks pretty controversial to say the least and he may actually remind you of his portrayal in AVX. He really seems to have a thing against the X-Men and his decision to stay at base instead of saving She Hulk from imminent destruction was pretty awful. That’s simply not the heroic move to make and the other heroes should have just barreled past them. It’s lucky that reinforcements came when they did since that could have been pretty ugly. Captain America ultimately makes some good calls as well, but he’s too much of an army general. He’s willing to face heavy casualties in order to win the war and that’s unacceptable for a hero.
This took place before Ultron got the hype and recognition that he has currently earned in the comics. He’s still feared as a powerful Avengers villain, but that’s about it. That’s all right…Ultron doesn’t need any fancy titles to strike fear into the hearts of many. I like the fact that he just turns on the villains and decides that he can take them all on at once. He even goes after Galactus at one point, which was pretty great. Let’s just say that Ultron really doesn’t fear any being!
I appreciate that Galactus is not willing to play the Beyonder’s games, but he looks pretty bad as a result. What scene would really shock the crowds? Having Galactus be bested by a guy with an 80’s haircut! So, Galactus is beaten pretty badly by the Beyonder and it can be tough for his fans to bear. I feel their pain since that was definitely a humbling moment for this galactic fighter. He looks good aside from that though and he’s definitely portrayed as one of the strongest characters around.
Molecule Man is one of those villains that I disliked from the very beginning. He’s never been a cool character no matter which continuity tried to make him tough. He gets a whole lot of hype here and the writers even try to make you feel bad for him. That definitely didn’t work on me though and I never liked it when a character is able to just do whatever he wants. It’s bad writing since there’s no stopping him! That’s not what I expect to see from my comic book villains! He starts to buy into the whole romance thing after a while, which helps him start to change his ways. It’s still pretty cheesy though.
Klaw’s role is pretty intriguing since he basically lost his mind after he made it aboard Galactus’ ship. It actually managed to improve his character though since he’s pretty likable. There are a few scenes where you may become suspicious of him since he has a lot of shifty looks, but it may have just been the art. That being said, you almost feel bad for Dr Doom in a few scenes because he really trusted the sound master. Just know that when you have a villain like Klaw, whose deadliness is only matched by his insanity..things are going to be very tough for those around him. It’s good to see this villain getting the respect that he deserves.
Cyclops is a part of the disfunctional X-Men group (At least in this series) so he gets a lot of inner monologue. He’s unhappy about the direction that the team has been heading in and he feels like Professor X is just not the best choice as the leader. He plans on quitting the team once this is all over since they have started to lose their morals. It’s good to see that Cyclops has kept his and while he’s a far cry from the Cyclops of the modern comics, he’s pretty great here. Cyclops is one of the few characters who has managed to be a great character through just about every comic era. He doesn’t see a lot of action here, but he’s always around just in case.
Wolverine looks pretty true to form. He has more experience than over 90% of the other heroes…maybe even all of them. He knows what it’s like to be in a war so he’s not taking any prisoners this time around. While you would think that he might get along with Captain America, that turns out to be impossible. Captain America seems to have a thing against mutants and that makes Wolverine turn against him. There’s a really rushed page at the end that quickly has them settle their differences, but it makes you think about how things have changed. This Wolverine was not the kind of guy who would become the principal of a school or the guy who would betray mutantkind for the Avengers. Too bad he couldn’t always be this good right? It’s hard to think of him as a hero, but he’s a capable ally to have around.
Storm wants to be leader of the X-Men and she actually was for a while until Professor X stepped in. Storm tried to reclaim her position, but Professor X threatened to take control of her mind so that he could force her into being a subordinate. She quickly backed off after that, but another layer of trust was definitely lost from the team. She is certainly not in a good mode for the arc, but she doesn’t do a lot after that. Like the rest of the X-Men, she’s mostly just along for the ride.
Professor X looks very bad in this collection although that can be a good thing if you ever wanted to see what it would be like if he was a little more sinister. He decides to form an alliance with Magneto since mutants should stick together, but he decided not to inform the other teams that Magneto had possibly reformed. (Not really) He wipes away some of Spiderman’s memories, which is extremely unheroic to the point where I would say that he completely descended into the realm of evil. It was all so Spiderman couldn’t rat them out about meeting with Magneto and betraying the heroes so at least the wall crawler was doing the right thing. Prof X makes a truce with the heroes so that they wouldn’t have to fight, but things definitely got very tense for a while there. I like the X-Men, but Professor X was very unreasonable the entire time. You were almost waiting for him to be dethroned. I’m sure that the X-Men had him step down once the arc was over.
Magneto decides to part ways with the rest of the villains since his goals are pretty different. He wants to survive this and he also wants the other mutants to survive. Unfortunately, he then kidnaps the Wasp, which is a pretty big blow to his reputation. The other heroes were definitely not going to trust him after that and it’s disappointing that some romance ensued. Magneto should keep his mind on the mission and this is a mistake that is pretty inexcusable for anyone. Magneto had some kind of plan that was lost in the shuffle, but this was certainly not his best appearance. I expect more from the Master of Magnetism!
The Beyonder is all powerful, but I’m sure that you’ve heard that tune before. He’s like the One Above All and he’s a pretty awful character through and through. You’ll probably cheer when Dr Doom unleashes his ultimate plan. I’ve already seen the Beyonder in other comics so I disliked him before his appearance here, but he did nothing to change that opinion. He let his guard down at a pretty bad moment and you have to wonder what the point of the whole war was. It’s basically just for his entertainment and that’s not very fulfilling for the heroes. I’m sure that he could be a good character in theory…but it could take a while for him to reach that level.
Dr Doom has a pretty big role in this arc and he looks pretty good. He has a plan from the start and he never loses hope in it even after he is utterly crushed and humiliated by the Beyonder on several occasions. His determination eventually pays off and you actually feel pretty happy for him. I thought that he was one of the best villains to be found here and he even gives the heroes a chance to walk away. They would never do such a thing…but you have to admire the fact that he gave them a choice right? He gets a sad ending, but I suppose that we could expect nothing else.
War Machine is here instead of Iron Man, but he is impersonating the famous hero. Sadly, this means that he spends a lot of time tarnishing the golden avenger’s name. He seems to take offense at every little thing and he flirts way too much. Iron Man didn’t do that back in the old days so it really makes him look bad. War Machine may be in a better armor, but he’s still all talk and he never really backs it up. Luckily, we have Thor so two out of the three big Avengers are present for the arc. He has a subplot where he goes off to talk in another dimension with Enchantress at one point, but he definitely makes an impact when he goes back into the war. He takes on a decent amount of villains at the same time and he doesn’t back down from attacking Doom’s lair. Thor is typically with the group when they fight so his role isn’t huge, but everyone had to get their screentime. At least he got one solo fight against the group.
The art is pretty solid and it’s really classic. As such, all of the pages were done by hand so you are certain to find some funny facial expressions of off proportions on the characters once in a while. That being said, you have to imagine just how tricky it would have been to color all of these guys in and how much work it would have been. We can’t deny that computers make drawing more efficient and precise nowadays, but the unpredictable of the old comics is one of the reasons why the art looks so good. It’s pleasing on the eye and it’s very easy to follow the action. I would definitely be content for all Marvel comics to have this style of art although I also love the art in X Sanction and that’s a completely different style. So, diversification is always a good thing.
The ending of the arc definitely has more than a little plot hax since one character conveniently gets everyone to the revival chambers after they were all dead. There is a twist and someone wanted them to win, but it’s still a little dicey. When you have invincible beings…I guess that’s just what you have to do though right? It was interesting to see new characters just pop up once in a while though like the two girls that we found in the village. Apparently a whole town/village ended up getting thrown in the portal as well even though we don’t get to see the civilians all that much.
Overall, The Secret Wars will never be forgotten. It was the first large scale arc of its kind and it paved the way for many more fun adventures in both the Marvel and DC comics. I definitely liked the war scenario the most from the arcs inside of this story, but the climax was definitely pretty grand. This is a collection that I highly recommend to all comic readers. It’s simply a must read and it has certainly aged well. Adapting this into an animated film would certainly be pretty fun to watch. Where else can you see so many characters interact on screen? It’s amazing how the writers manage to cram in so many subplots without them feeling all that rushed. A lot of them will be concluded in different comic series as it is. Yeah…this arc will likely not be surpassed by Marvel and even DC will have a tough time trying to take this one out. It was just about perfect!