writer: Jonathan Hickman / artist: Esad Ribic / Marvel Comics
How long have we been building up to this now? YEARS, right? Jonathan Hickman has been crafting his Thesis on world building and destroying for a long time now and for the scope of it (Avengers/Avengers World/New Avengers into “Time Runs Out”), it was a beautiful thing to behold. But, all that was really just preparation for this, the Secret Wars, the actual end of the world. We’re promised 8 issues of Hickman rebuilding the universe as he sees fit, so was the first issue of this bold entry worth the hype? Ehhhh…
Secret Wars #1 starts at the beginning of the end of the universe as Earth 616 (Marvel Proper) and Earth-1610 are the last two Earths (along with their respective galaxies) in existence. We get a very brief look at Doom as he stands before the Beyonders at the top of the issue, but this is really about the battle between the Earths as they are forced into one last incursion. As you can imagine, there is a ton going here, plots, secret plots, secret-secret plots, lots of action, hero teamwork, a little bit of comedy sprinkled in and just about a line of dialogue from every major Marvel character. Which is probably the largest problem with this first issue. The problem that Hickman can’t escape with Secret Wars is that at the end of the world, everyone has to be there and therefore, everyone has to contribute. This isn’t going to be like New Avengers when he could focus on three characters having an existential conversation withe each other for 30 pages, so it’s going to be overstuffed and dizzy and probably have more than a few moments of unnecessary contributions from certain characters.
The strong side of this however is seeing the different things that characters have been working on outside of the “Time Runs Out” storyline like Cyclops for example. Some characters that haven’t been part of this storyline will obviously loom very large in Secret Wars, but I don’t expect it will be easy to guess ahead of the story with Hickman at the helm.
As is with this first installment, Ribic’s art never fully captures greatness in this issue either. It’s a really nice touch to see Ribic re-united with Hickman for this and a lot of gels. Most character portrayals seem pretty familiar, but some characters look like background when they are actually in the forefront. Faces are sometimes bland or just not identifiable as they should be for some characters. Much of the action is well done and seems appropriate to scale for the magnitude of this issue. The overall chaos and destruction is depicted well and leaves no doubt that there isn’t really a happy ending coming out of this.
We are off for Secret Wars, finally as we get a good, but not great story to jump start us. This is only 1 of 8, so we’re guessing anything that didn’t get it’s due on issue one, will be addressed pretty soon.