When it comes to Marvel events it’s hard to see the finish line. Well, that is not counting the spoiler previews they keep putting out! That said, you can generally count on a few surprises to mix things up, and the latest issue of Secret Wars has a few under its sleeves…but is it good?
Secret Wars #5 (Marvel Comics)
This issue is a much slower installment than the previous issues. It consists of two elements and focuses mostly on Dr. Doom and his head detective and “daughter” Valaria. Those of you looking for big action and a fast pace should probably look elsewhere, but this issue does hold some very important plot developments that will shake up the entire event as a whole.
How godly they look.
Jonathan Hickman has basically written himself a eulogy type issue here as Dr. Doom says his goodbyes to Dr. Strange. Strange was his best man, the only man who knew the truth of what happened, and served as his sheriff. Unfortunately Dr. Strange tried to stop Doom from killing Mr. Fantastic and the other heroes Strange secretly found and stored away to protect them from Doom. That got him killed. Dr. Doom did the crime, but in this issue nobody knows it, including Sue Storm and the Thors. There’s clearly some guilt running through the air (however scant the guilt would be coming from the arrogant Dr. Doom), but it’s written well.
It’s especially clear when Dr. Doom checks in with a certain someone we haven’t yet seen in the series. I won’t ruin it here, but the dynamic between this old friend and Dr. Doom is good. The old friend is a bit nuts and a loose cannon and an interesting juxtaposition to the always certain, always serious Dr. Doom. This scene solidifies the issue as a fun read and further complicates the situation Dr. Doom is in.
Sounds like a made up religion.
Those of you who haven’t read the previous Hickman written issues of New Avengers get a nice recap of what happened to blow up the 616 and Ultimate universes too. It’s a well paced sequence that’s at once efficient and interesting.
Finally the scenes with Valaria and her new mission to track down the heroes and villains that Dr. Strange scattered across Battleworld is a compelling one. Not because she and her team are going to be traveling across boundaries to figure out where they are, but because she and the others already know something’s fishy about Dr. Strange’s death. Dr. Doom has unsettled the balance that held Battleworld together for the eight or so years since its creation. There is a quiet building here that’s going to end in a bang.
Some will argue this is a lot of exposition with no action at all. They’d be right, but they also are missing the fact that this is a turning point issue that takes its time with some important backstory and its relationships. Doom is lying to his “family” and his actions here speak to him never truly being a father or husband and when or if this lie is revealed he’s going to pay. Essentially we’re seeing Dr. Doom’s last days as the all powerful, all knowing god. And he knows it.
The art by Esad Ribic continues to be fantastic as always. I’ve found when a panel or page is very complicated his detail drops a bit, but here he gets to stretch a bit with panels showcasing a single character or reaction. The detail is magnificent and hammers home the epic nature of the scene. Take for instance Doom’s reaction to the Beyonders hurtling towards him. He’s truly scared and it looks very real and genuine due to Ribic’s art. Choosing to use a starkly white room for Dr. Doom and the mysterious old friend’s sequence is a nice choice too. It makes his detailed lines really pop.
Yeah, you’re such a jerk for dying.
Is It Good?
A slower and more subtle chapter in an event series that is exploring guilt, payback and the impossible task of believing we can control anything.
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