The Marvel Universe is no more, and everything did, in fact, end as promised…but, something DID end up taking its place in the great vastness of the multiverse, and that something is turning out to be one of the funnest and most compelling event stories to hit comic shop shelves in recent memory. I’m, of course, speaking of Secret Wars and its full range of tie-in comics that can be defined as anything from utter ridiculousness to must-read graphic literature and everything in between. But a good event just isn’t about the scores of tie-ins and is only as good as the main title. Through 2 issues, however, Secret Wars has certainly lived up to its promotional hype and has the potential of being one of the greatest events in the storied history of the publisher. But it’s that ish #3 that makes or breaks an 8 issue series, and Secret Wars #3 is chock full of some of the best event story-telling I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for Secret Wars #3.
With two issues in a row of some pretty deep setup for the event, issue #3 really needed to have a lot more meat on the bone and give readers something fun and substantial to sink their teeth into, and writer Jonathan Hickman delivers in spades. From the very start we’re given some much desired backstory into what exactly occurred after Doctors Doom and Strange, presumably, finished off the Beyonders giving way to God Doom and his Battleworld creation. Hickman’s pacing is excellent as he bobs and weaves, back and forth, from incredibly cool character moments that help to better setup the current status quo, to integral story moments necessary to actually get to telling the story. But that was one of the best parts of this ish: I didn’t really need the story to progress, and would have been just fine learning more about this amazing world Hickman has created.
Doom and Susan have a brilliantly crafted few pages of dialogue that simultaneously displays the burden of a god, while also showing God Doom’s humanity and, perhaps, weakness, as the rest of the Incursion Refugees are “rescued” by a Sheriff Strange with a lot of explaining to do, and The Cabal are still on the loose in a world they no absolutely nothing about. There are so many beautifully interesting intertwining plot threads that Jonathan Hickman is weaving together, all while concurrently securing the foundation of the overall story with amazingly well-written world-building elements. The style of Secret Wars is not only perfectly tuned to tell a solid event tale, but it’s perfect for the wide variety of tie-ins that are accompanying it.
Esad Ribic is doing award-winning caliber work on this series, and while this ish #3 sees a bit of the quality slip as things appear a bit rushed in certain places, the panel of the unmasked Doom alone is almost worth the cover price.
The lone caveat I have about the series thus far, with this issue #3 reinforcing that worry, is that the event will end up being nothing more than a Fantastic Four story. There certainly are a lot of FF characters at the forefront of this event, and although there are almost too many other Marvel characters starring in this series to count, everything seems to point to Hickman’s entire Avengers/New Avengers run, up to and including Secret Wars, was nothing more than an extension of his acclaimed Fantastic Four/FF run. But, I really like his run of those books, so it’s really not that big of a deal.
Overall Secret Wars #3 is a terrific wrap-up of the first part of what is shaping up to be an event of epic, Multiversal proportions. Jonathan Hickman is both an expert storyteller and expert world-builder, and the groundwork he’s laid in the past few years in his Avengers/New Avengers run is finally paying for readers and, most assuredly, the creator himself.
Story: 5 Out of 5
Art: 4 Out of 5
Overall: 4.5 Out of 5