After the long and multi layered build up to Marvel’s latest event, Secret Wars is here and for better or for worse it marks the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Hickman has been guiding us towards this moment since Avengers and New Avengers kicked of with Marvel NOW! and the stakes just kept getting higher and higher until Time Runs Out began and you start to see that maybe the good guys just won’t win.
Picking up where the final issues of the last two Avengers title left off Hickman throws us right into the huge battle between the last two universes left. The original Marvel Universe known as Earth 616 and the Ultimate Marvel Universe on Earth 1610. It’s on a grand scale that provides some intense action scenes and great comic moments for this story. Though in all of the chaos and violence Hickman’s story shines through as we see that the bad guys have plans within plans and they’re not ready to show their hand just yet. There’s also some pretty emotional moments as we lose a group of Earth 616 heroes in the final moments of the issue. But the best moment in the issue really does go to Frank Castle aka The Punisher! It’s brief but simply the most effective way a guy like him will spend his final moments on Earth.
Ribic’s artwork captures the narrative almost perfectly as the battle between the two universes plays out in this issue. The opening sequence does so much with so little as it shows the gravitas of Doctor Doom as he stands before the Beyonders. It’s also nice to know that even with the end of the world at hand there’s time for a fastball special as Colossus and Hulk cause some severe property damage in a pretty destructive scene. And when it’s all said and done Ive Svorcina’s colors really bring it all together. The only gripe regarding the visuals is with a panel that shows Spider-Man swinging hundreds of feet in the air towards the ship but in the very next panel he’s on the ground surrounded by a group of scared New Yorkers. Another would be with Nightcrawler teleporting in and the word “PoP” appearing. Since when in all the decades of him teleporting have we not seen the classic “BAMF”? It just makes it look silly and out of place to X-Men fans.
Now, as great as this issue was, if you’re a newer fan picking this up then things will be very confusing for you. While we do get the barest of the bare bones of a recap, if you haven’t been reading the latest volumes of Avengers and New Avengers or just their Time Runs Out storylines then much of the emotional impact and scale will be lost on you. Hickman does seem aware of this and even tries to ease things with some of the dialogue to help a new reader along.
Secret Wars is how you begin to destroy your universe the right way. The action is huge and the story here reflects that as we begin with the end of everything. Making it very clear that anything can happen in the next seven issues and we’ll get to see how this ties into the original Secret Wars and what surprises the creative team has in store! It’s definitely worth a look if you want to see how the Marvel Universe will end.