It has been three months (and six days!) now since Marvel started publishing their post-Secret Wars event comics. This has made people search each new series for clues on how the “summer” event ended. No longer must we uncover the mystery as Secret Wars #9 is here this week! We all want to know how it ends, but is it good?
Secret Wars #9 (Marvel Comics)
If you haven’t been reading you probably still know the entire universe was about to end, but Doctor Doom saved it. Then it gets a bit more complicated. He recreated all the worlds into one Battleworld and made himself God. Unfortunately for him Mr. Fantastic and a handful of heroes stayed alive in a cosmic life raft and were woken up by Dr. Strange. Mr. Fantastic and his evil Ultimate universe self have been working to end Doom’s reign along with the help of Black Panther and Namor. Last issue ended with Black Panther and Namor joining a fight against Doom with a horde of zombies and the Infinity Gauntlet at the ready. An all out war is taking place, but there can only be one victor!
Why does this book matter?
It’s the end of a Marvel event that has not only faced delays but has had additional issues tacked onto the run! Who isn’t greatly anticipating the conclusion of an event some might call exhausting but most would agree titillated with an epic story like no other? Go buy this to finally close the door on this event!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic deliver one hell of a god vs. god battle. We all know Black Panther wields the Infinity Gauntlet which makes him a god, but to go up against Doom who’s already a god? That’s a battle that is difficult to convey, since they both can alter time and space with their abilities. They pull it off, though, and it’s exciting as hell. Instead of one long battle, Hickman has other events transpire at the same time. This gives us a little action and nice plot progression at the same time. Mr. Fantastic has a plan after all and we get to see him enact it. The pace of the issue never falters and it’s interesting till the very end.
It’s with Mr. Fantastic that the big dramatic beats lie in this issue. Essentially Hickman allows us to float through conflicts and conversations that give us some kind of answer via Mr. Fantastic’s point of view. In large part this issue is all about Mr. Fantastic, but that makes some sense since his ultimate rival Dr. Doom has been the core of this event series from the beginning. Like Hickman’s run with the Avengers, the battle is fought through big ideas and conversation and in a lot of ways we learn by the end that this series is about who we are and why we make choices rather than the power (and super powers) we might have. That makes the meaning all the more powerful.
This issue is about 38 pages minus the credit page and ads, which is a good amount; it’s certainly enough to offer a satisfying story and conclusion. If you’ve read Hickman’s previous stories this is a love letter to the characters he’s been writing. Everyone from Black Panther to the Richards family and Future Foundation gets a moment to shine and it’s a nice sendoff if this is his last issue writing for Marvel. If you aren’t familiar with Black Panther or Future Foundation you might cry foul, but it makes some sense to have the most moral and heroic characters get a time to shine.
As we know from the All-New All-Different titles the world blows up in some way shape or form and with its destruction is the creation. The best part of this series really is the creation myth at play here. We got the creation myth of Battleworld earlier in this event series and we get another here. Will everyone love it? Does it have enough answers? That’s going to be up to each person’s interpretation, but I found it enjoyable. I certainly wished there was more explained, but it makes sense.
Ribic once again does a stellar job and this time pushed himself with the layouts. There’s one page that is divided into grids as two titans battle and there’s a clever use of dialogue sectioned off between grids that makes the read easy, but also feel entwined. The visual supports the battle in play and that works very well. The battle between Black Panther and Dr. Doom is also fantastically realized. Ribic is able to convey how they’re battling in different ways due to their power and it’s fun to see how they tackle one another.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Mr. Fantastic is featured quite a bit in this issue which makes this event feel oddly balanced. It opened and seemed to carry on with Dr. Doom, but Mr. Fantastic’s inclusion doesn’t seem to be earned quite as much. The character inserts himself here and there in this issue and again it almost seems too easy.
Everyone is going to be talking about a major smash cut that takes place near the end which basically turns the remaining pages into an epilogue. The cut is abrupt and one might argue could have occurred at any point in the event. That makes this turn of events less impactful. Nothing was done necessarily to kick off the big conclusion and what was said to kick things off isn’t necessarily new for the characters talking. I can’t spoil it, but ultimately for a nine issue series the end came incredibly abruptly.
Is It Good?
Save for an abrupt end and a somewhat unearned focus on Mr. Fantastic this concluding chapter wraps things up well. Longtime Hickman fans will love this.