|SECRET WARS No. 1, July 2015|
Despite its arguably inappropriate title, for there little that is secretive about two planets smashing into one another, Issue One of “Secret Wars” is undoubtedly a triumphant combination of suspenseful action-packed storytelling and wonderfully highly detailed characterful artwork by Croatian artist Esad Ribic. For whether the reader is a devotee of either the Marvel Universe (1961-2015) or the Ultimate Universe (2000-2015) there is plenty for them to cheer and mourn, as Jonathan Hickman literally has the two ‘realities’ tear one another apart.
Admittedly those who have followed the longer living and comic book world defining exploits of Stan Lee’s co-creations, will undoubtedly have more to be happy about having perused this magazine’s thirty-four page extravaganza. To begin with this actuality seemingly has the better day when both worlds’ super-heroes confront one another, despite ‘the other Earth’s secondary attack’ using the best technology its “specially bred engineers” could muster. But amazingly it also manages to somehow have a few of its inhabitants somehow survive the fracturing of both existences; albeit a grim-faced bearded Mister Fantastic doesn’t succeed in saving anywhere near as many people as he hoped… including his own beloved wife and family.
There is though still plenty to enjoy if any bibliophile is more familiar with the Earth-1610 imprint, as both the Triskelion, Headquarter’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the City, home of the Cabal and the Children of Tomorrow, feature prominently in the South Carolina-born writer’s narrative. Indeed General Fury and the “thousand-year-old megalomaniacal boy genius who wiped out most of Europe on a whim” Reed Richards provide much of the book’s early exposition as to what is actually taking place. Something which is crucial if you haven’t been following any of the events depicted in the “Time Runs Out” storyline from the “Avengers” and “New Avengers” comic books.
Equally as enjoyable and arguably a great contributor as to why this opening instalment of the mini-series proved so popular a purchase that it sold a staggering 527,678 copies in May 2015, is that despite the colossal scale of his script, Hickman still somehow manages to find the time to incorporate numerous genuinely memorable micro-sized moments within its sweeping grandeur. Some such as the sudden tragic demise of Rocket Raccoon or Invisible Woman are poignant panels which draw a heavy pause in the chaotic proceedings. Whilst others, such as a confident sounding Spider-Man telling the New York locals that “I’ve got this… Uh. Maybe” or the Punisher asking a packed out bar full of the city’s most notorious super-villains “what am I gonna do with all these bullets” are humorous laugh out loud moments.
|The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 1 by Alex Ross|