When Worlds Collide
Release Date: OUT NOW!
Publisher: Marvel Writer: Jonathan Hickman Artist: Esad Ribic
Hickman doesn’t do simple. A writer who’s been grabbing attention since his debut The Nightly News in 2007, his comic stories are intricate, amazingly designed tales that require serious attention to keep up with, and he’s gained major success at Marvel with his epic run on the Fantastic Four and his sprawling Avengers/ New Avengers saga.
However, even by Hickman’s standards, the setup for his latest Marvel event comic is incredibly complex. The series is actually a semi- remake/ remix of the 1984 Marvel event comic Secret Wars, and this 2015 incarnation is so complex and continuity- heavy that even the most dedicated comics fan may sometimes struggle to keep up.
The build- up to Secret Wars has been happening across Hickman’s Avengers- related comics since 2012. Universes have been colliding with devastating consequences, and issue one is a massive epilogue to his Avengers run, at the end of which the last two remaining universes – the mainstream Marvel universe and the “Ultimate” Marvel universe – were apparently destroyed.
However, thanks to Doctor Doom and Stephen Strange, the fractured remains of the two universes are melded together into a strange realm named Battleworld. Here, history is mixed up as realms featuring different eras of Marvel continuity ( from the “1602” universe created by Neil Gaiman, to the dark future of X- Men classic “Days Of Future Past”) all coexist, policed by multiple Thors and ruled over by Doctor Doom, who’s now ascended to godhood.
Boiled down to a synopsis, Secret Wars sounds like all the worst excesses of superhero comics, but the first three issues are actually more entertaining and accessible than you’d expect. Told in broad strokes and kinetic setpieces, the story properly starts in issue two, where Battleworld turns out to be organised as a semi- medieval series of fiefdoms – think Game Of Thrones.
The oddball mix of epic fantasy and Marvel continuity is weird, lurid and a surprising amount of fun, as Hickman plays against expectations with well- executed twists ( including a number of unchanged survivors from the pre- Battleworld history) and a hefty sense of mythic drama. It’s also a visual feast, with Esad Ribic and colourist Ive Svorcina pulling off tremendous levels of cinematic scale, making this one of the best- looking mainstream superhero comics in a long time.
The various realms of Battleworld are explored elsewhere in a multitude of crossover miniseries, but unlike DC’s similarly continuity-themed event Convergence, this core series is holding up as an entertaining read in its own right. Secret Wars is too complicated to win over many new converts to Marvel, but it’s shaping up as an entertaining and action- packed burst of over- the- top superhero fun. Saxon Bullock
One of the bestlooking superhero comics in a while
The original 1984 Secret Wars miniseries was written so that Mattel could create a new range of Marvel action figures.
“Round up the usual suspects!”