|SECRET WARS No. 3, August 2015|
Considering that this third instalment of “Secret Wars” is devoid of any action whatsoever, it is somewhat hard to initially believe that not only was “The Eye Of Doom” the best-selling comic of June 2015, but that it ‘shifted’ a staggering 218,136 copies in order to attain such an accolade. However just because a narrative lacks any pulse-pounding thrills doesn’t necessarily make it an unenthralling read, and designer Jonathan Hickman’s storyline remains an exciting experience despite the dialogue-heavy sedentary nature of the twenty-page periodical’s plot.
In fact in many ways the South Carolina-born writer’s script plays out like a slowly-evolving gripping detective novel, with Stephen Strange, the serious strait-laced Sheriff of Agamotto, investigating a “villainous cabal” who, having “emerged from a life raft created on Earth-1610”, have killed “one of Doom’s enforcers”. This deductive journey alongside Steve Ditko’s stern-faced creation is made all the more enjoyable by the Sorcerer Supreme’s somewhat surprisingly swift return to his Sanctum Sanctorum. For the Master of Magic’s “safe haven from this [Battle]world and its prying eyes” not only proves to be the location of a second ‘life raft’ filled with Earth-1616 refugees such as Peter Quill, Spider-Man and Black Panther. But a place where the reader can finally start to piece together what happened when “everything died” and “in that moment of death, God made a new world.”
Strange’s explanation to an increasingly incredulous audience that “Victor [von Doom] saved us all” and “is very, very good at playing God” is extremely well-written by Hickman, with Reed Richards’ indignant outrage at having been “buried alive” within his vessel for three years, proving to be a particular highpoint of the American’s writing.
Arguably less successful though is the “Concentric Circles” columnist’s exploration of the relationship between the facially disfigured Ruler of Battleworld and his royal consort, Susan Storm. Having chided the “bleating old bore” of a Sheriff because he feared for Sue's personal safety and mercilessly expelled her fiery brother into the planet’s sky in order to become its Sun, simply because the man somehow “defied” the imperial couple, this supposedly caring conscience of the God Emperor seems a far cry from the compassionate “first female superhero created by Marvel during the Silver Age of Comics” and unexpectedly dislikeable as a result.
|The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 3 by Alex Ross|