Friday, March 18, 2016

Reader's Diary #1279- Jonathan Hickman (writer), Esad Ribic (artist): Secret Wars

When I was a kid, I was an avid He-Man doll collector. You could get the classic one of course, but then there was Battle Chest He-Man (you could hit his chest and it would roll to reveal a gash), there was the Prince Adam version (He-Man before he lifts his sword and shouts, "By the power of Grey Skullllllll!), and I'm sure many more. Still, when playing with them you always made these different version fit, creating new stories on the spot. It may not have made sense to adult listeners, but who cared?

And basically that's the essence of Marvel's epic "Secret Wars" event of last year. For years now they've been telling different stories with their characters, creating, in the process, different universes. In one Peter Parker dies, in another he doesn't, in another he's a zombie, and so on. In Secret Wars they wound up mashing it all together.

To do so, they've wrapped the story around the collapse of all known multiverses into a single planet with villain Dr. Doom playing God and ruler. They're are plenty— predictably— who are not happy with this and so most of the book revolves around the question of whether or not Doom can hold on to his power.

The collection (issues #0-#8) does not entirely work. Hickman tries admirably to infuse the story with a lot of religious and philosophical questions, but with the noise, such angles lose their focus. And to be sure, it's quite noisy, and not a good jumping on point for newcomers. Some characters get more "screen time" than others but with so much attention being shared almost no character is given much of a fleshed out plot. Doom, perhaps, is an exception but he disappoints in another way. Being given such extreme amount of power, it seems bizarre that he basically sits back and watch his destruction come. The only time he manages to impress is in his match against Thanos.

To be fair, the event was bigger than this collection (Marvel being the marketing geniuses that they are), and more intimate looks at individual characters and how each were affected by the Secret Wars events were given in their own series while all of this was happening.

Another major drawback is the complete absence of regular humans. It's all heroes all the time and part of the appeal to superheroes is when they save us muggles, not just themselves.

Ribic's art is decent enough, if nothing spectacular or particularly interesting.

Still, despite the many flaws, I had a great time with it. It was a particularly fun mashup if nothing else. It made about as much sense as Battle Chest He-Man meeting Classic He-Man back in the day, but for that rekindling that memory alone, was worth it.

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