See all reviews of Secret Wars (9)

The summer comic book event has become the big tentpole picture of comic books. We’re all anticipating what it has to offer and how it might change things for our characters. There have been plenty of previews and tidbits thrown at us for the last few months, but it’s finally here. Is it good?

Secret Wars #1 (Marvel Comics)

This 40 page extravaganza (actually it’s more like 32 pages since the book uses full pages to express a couple of words on a black or white page) kicks off the event we’ve all been waiting for. I for one haven’t been reading a lot of the titles, expecting to be able to jump right in and enjoy what Marvel has to offer without having to read all the lead in titles. This reviewer is going in with only the information that some kind of Battleworld is created with whole continents (or is it countries?) housing different alternate world versions of our favorite Marvel characters. It has been said readers going in completely blind like myself should have no problem, but is that the case?

That’s cold Reed!

Not really. But lets delve into what this comic is anyway. Writer Jonathan Hickman opens his book on Dr. Doom and two others as they witness a white light coming at them. It’s a fantastic way to open the series as we see the fear in Doom’s eyes as the white envelops him. A booming voice coming out of purple lightning calls itself The Beyond and thus the intro is complete. From there Hickman sticks us into the 1610 and 616 universes. These are the main universe we know and love and the Ultimate universe. Thankfully I read a few of Hickman’s incursion comics and know whole universes are colliding. It appears we’re down to these two and they are smashing into one another. Most of this issue focuses on their worlds colliding and the heroes of each trying to take out the other.

The Ultimate universe seems to be run by Mr. Fantastic and his evil looking robot, The City. They are in cahoots with the Cabal who has a member we all know and love called Thanos. Hickman does a good job weaving in details that will obviously come back later, such as Mr. Fantastic holding some cards close to the chest here. Over on the 616 universe Eden, the newer teleporting Avenger has also got something going on, but besides a bit of a hint at something coming down the line from him there isn’t much more said.

Nice point Rocket!

Basically this issue is an armageddon movie. The characters are packing up and getting ready to ship out preparing for the worst. And when I say characters, I mean many characters. This book follows many of them, which in effect makes them cogs in the machine of this plot more than anything. There were a few times I had to go back and look at the cast list page to make sure who was fighting for who, which was a bit annoying (and they forgot to put mohawk Hulk on there I might add) and that brings up the ultimate issue I had with this book. Nearly every page I was trying to catch up and figure out what was going on. Why for instance, was Cyclops carrying some kind of egg that turned him into the Phoenix? More importantly I had no idea why he had to go into Phoenix mode nor what that even accomplished. Similarly the Fantastic Four are on some kind of Noah’s Ark mission, but where they are going or what they could possibly be preparing for is anyone’s guess. I assume the world as we know it is going to be obliterated, but nobody goes out and just says it.

Mr. Fantastic is looking villainous.

There simply are no fun moments in this title. There are no epic splash pages or fantastical moments to make you go “wow.” Instead it’s characters running around doing stuff for stuff’s sake. Unfortunately all the characters are disbanded and in separate groups, but for what reasons I have no idea. Hickman has things exploding and characters doing “things” but why or for what I couldn’t care less. The ultimate end of the title is huge, probably the biggest event in Marvel history, but it’s told in such an esoteric way I can’t seem to care what is happening. Is this an event of epic proportions? Yes. Is it fun to read? No.

I’m a huge fan of Esad Ribic, who does the art here, but I found myself confused as to what was going on in certain panels. He’s clearly a bigger fan of drawing people over backgrounds and more than once I wasn’t sure how characters were related spatially as I read. This created big problems as far as anticipation and drama because I wasn’t sure if, for instance, Hulk was knocking over a tower that Ultimate Nick Fury was in or not. Once it was confirmed that was happening it was too late and once again I was playing catch up. All that said, his moments drawing Dr. Doom, funnily enough the most simple of panels in the entire book, were fantastic and steeped in drama.

It’s safe to say what happens to both Earths by issue’s end, but since Battleworld is not established here it’s unclear what is happening in the climactic last few pages. At least we aren’t left hanging, wondering what happened to them. Mr. Fantastic loses touch with Invisible Woman, but because I have no idea if she’s dying or just teleporting somewhere you’ll be hard pressed to feel anything. Without knowing the stakes there’s no dramatic tension.

I understand Hickman loves to use full pages of black or white with a few words to create a dramatic moment, but it just doesn’t work here. The last few pages contain an entire page of two words, another with five words, and finally with one solid image of a spacecraft. It feels like more of a giant middle finger of a tease more than anything. Sure the implications of both worlds dying off is huge, but I have no idea what I’m seeing on the last page and thus no feeling either positive or negative.

What this comic gets right is cordoning off the heroes into sections we know will be banded as the event progresses. This is the hero group, and meanwhile we have Dr. Doom doing his thing elsewhere. That makes it safe to say there is going to be some kind of core to this Battleworld and that’s a positive.

The end is nigh!

Is It Good?

In a lot of ways this event starts with a whimper rather than the bang it so desperately wants to accomplish. It feels like it simply exists and is one of the flattest opens to an event I’ve ever read. Unfortunately there’s no dramatic tension nor any semblance of drama to speak of and instead focuses more on preparing the pieces for the remaining seven issues. Ultimately summer comic book events should be fun, but this feels like work.

Is It Good? Secret Wars #1 Review
The fear in Dr. Doom's eyes is a fantastic opening to the eventThe characters are positioned well as far as the main coreRocket gets a few funny lines in
The art does not do any favors as far as express where characters are spatiallyAbsolutely no cool splash pages or character momentsYou'll be hard pressed to care what is going on
4Overall Score
Reader Rating 33 Votes
  • kareem ruiz

    I give it 8 out of 10

  • Pat

    What a shitty review. Why the hell would you review a story without knowing anything about it? No cool splash pages and the art is no good you say? Anybody who is a fan of the Avengers and New Avengers current run would care about this story. You sir are a douche and have no business writing a review.

    • Darren

      Well, Marvel did say it would be new reader friendly. So far, I’d have to agree it is not.

      • DtotheB

        Do you need help with some of the larger words?

        • Darren

          Yes, can you teach me?

      • Pat

        Marvel says lots of things. Why would you just jump into this story anyways? Unless you’re a child which in that case they wouldn’t care because all of their favorite characters are in it fighting.

        • What if someone came from Avengers: Age of Ultron and decided to try the comics? They’d see the wall at their LCS flooded with Secret Wars. Odds are they might pick it up. It is the job of the comic to keep their interest enough that they bring it to the register and purchase it, and hopefully come back to by the second one. If all the prospective customer experiences is confusion, that’s problematic.

          • David Brooke

            This is true. A review from a different perspective has its purpose.

    • David Brooke

      Tom Brevoort says it’s new reader friendly so I thought I’d believe him :/

      Name one awesome splash page sir!

      • Pat

        Marvel/DC always say an event will be new reader friendly. It’s foolish to believe them and go into any event without any prior knowledge (especially if Hickman is involved). Marvel also said they would never do a crossover with the Ultimate Universe. Sorry I came off as a dick (didn’t mean to call you a douche) but to give this book a 4.0? Really?

        • David Brooke

          A 4 at AiPT is average. I had a hard time enjoying the read for the reasons given above.

          • Pat

            A 4.0 is average on this site? You guys gave Jupiter’s Circle a 7.0 so what’s all that about? IMO your reasons are not very good ones (besides I guess your new reader friendly argument).

          • David Brooke

            Sometimes “they” get it wrong. Case in point…Pulp Fiction being robbed!
            Best Picture
            Forrest Gump: Wendy Finerman, Steve Starkey, Steve Tisch
            Four Weddings and a Funeral: Duncan Kenworthy
            Pulp Fiction: Lawrence Bender
            Quiz Show: Michael Jacobs, Julian Krainin, Michael Nozik, Robert Redford
            The Shawshank Redemption: Niki Marvin

          • Pat

            So are you saying you robbed this issue of a better score? Btw, Pulp Fiction is a great movie!

          • David Brooke

            It’s funny to look back at best picture winners and the nominees and see which ones we still watch and talk about and which ones won. I’m saying…sometimes the critics get it wrong! So in this example I got it right 🙂

          • Juice312


    • IAteYourTaco

      You called the reviewer a douche because you don’t agree with him? The makes you, without a doubt, a bigger “douche”. Please grow up.

      • Pat

        Pfft, more likely I’ll take your mom out for a nice steak dinner and never call her again. lol

        • Tony Snark

          Hey guys, Pat has seen Anchorman! And he tells shittier versions of the jokes from that movie as well!

          Let’s hear it for Pat, the unoriginal bag of trash!

          • Pat

            Lol, it’s cute because you tried.

          • TonySnark

            Where’d you get that comeback? The toilet store. lol

            P.S. Your mom’s a sow. I still like her though.

    • RamblingBeachCat

      So wait…only people who’ve been reading Avengers/New Avengers can read (and review) Marvel’s massive, company-wide event that affects every single character and universe contained wiithin it?


  • IAteYourTaco

    What an odd review. Most if not all reviews are solid. Not great, but solid. The one positive I hear over and over again is that the art is spectacular (Esad Ribic is very well known and most love him). And on Comic Book Round Up, the average review is an 8.1/10 (great website by the way).

    Also, if this reviewer really doesn’t know anything about the story? Well, that kind of points out that this review shouldn’t be taken very seriously.

  • WUT?

    Well, Brooke provides the one poor review so far…

    • David Brooke

      At AiPT a 4 is in the average category.

    • Pat

      He sure did but it’s okay he directed, wrote and starred in a bunch of short films.

      • Darren

        Cool, personal attacks because you disagree with someone’s opinion on a comic book. You aren’t doing so well on the whole “not acting like a douchebag” thing.

        • Pat

          What’s your problem? I disagreed with the man but then I apologized. Don’t be a boob punch.

        • RamblingBeachCat

          He’s also one of my top man crushes. That alone is worth more than most organizational awards.

    • David Brooke

      CBR comes in with a 6!

  • Jose’ Rodriguez

    Wow, really? A 4? This story was dramatic as hell and full of character moments. I think the “You’d be hard pressed to care..” comment is not a good one to make for a review because you can Ant judge what some care for. For example, I read only brief description descriptions of what happened before this book, but I felt myself caring a whole damn lot.

  • B. NastY

    Well this was a harsh review. Sorry David Brooke I am going to have to disagree with you. Esad Ribic’s art was top notch. You’re really complaining about no splash pages? Also saying “you’ll be hard to care about what’s going on” is kinda lame. This comic was pretty epic and deserved better than a 4.0 IMO.

  • Brocktoon1921

    Good review. I thought it was disappointing as well. I was expecting a better pay-off with the 616 – 1610 incursion. Instead we get a totally forgettable battle scene that has only one real hero-hero confrontation (Captain Marvel vs. 1610 Iron Man). The Cabal sat on the sideline the entire time. So far, there has been no pay-off from bringing them into 1610.

    I’ve been disappointed generally with the last few issues of Avengers and NA. They’ve been merely ok, and some of the big reveals have been underwhelming and don’t make much sense. It’s a disappointing end to such a gripping storyline. So far, Secret Wars seems to continue the downward trajectory.