|SECRET WARS No. 5, October 2015|
Power mad, secretive and sinister, this fifth instalment of Jonathan Hickman’s “Secret Wars” saga proves to be a real return to form for “Wizard” magazine’s fourth Greatest Villain of All Time, with the South Carolina-born writer portraying the Latverian sorcerer at arguably his most despicably evil ever. Whether feigning grief over the death of a friend he himself murdered or stooping so low as to blatantly threaten his ‘own’ infant daughter when she dares question his motivation, Victor Von Doom has rarely been depicted as being so thoroughly abhorrent and masterfully manipulative. Though considering his reputation as the loving, caring God of “Battleworld” is at stake, it is easy to see why the incredibly ambitious ‘deity’ is so readily willing to kill even those closest to him without a moment’s thought.
Disappointingly however, having gone to such great lengths in order to establish to this issue’s 204,416 readers just how duplicitous and vengeful the armoured Emperor can be, the American author then fails to actually provide the dastardly antagonist with anything interesting to do within the comic’s remaining narrative, and instead simply has the disfigured scientist exchange profound witticisms with an ‘imprisoned’ Molecular Man.
Admittedly this eight-page long conversational-piece is somewhat crucial to this series’ overarching storyline, as it supposedly provides a comprehensible explanation as to how Jack Kirby’s co-creation was so fantastically empowered by the “omnipotent” Beyonders in the first place. But considering just how promising the start of this comic book was, what with Doom’s insincere grief at Stephen Strange’s demise, and contrived earnestness in capturing the Sheriff of Agamotto’s killers, the complete lack of any subsequent action is something of a major let-down; especially when it’s clear from the book’s ending that some of the members of the Cabal, such as Thanos and Black Swan, have clearly been up to no good since being teleported from Victor’s presence.
Quite possibly this periodical’s most enthralling asset is therefore Hickman’s treatment of Foundation leader, Valeria. Clearly brilliantly minded despite her obvious youth, the child genius’ considerable curiosity as to what precisely occurred “out there” to allow “a bunch of bad boys and girls” to escape “the judgement of God” places Susan Storm’s daughter in a particularly perilous predicament. One which very quickly starts to make ‘Marvel Girl’ question her Daddy’s explanation as to why Doom didn’t destroy the rebels when he first encountered them, and the monarch’s motivation for such a fabrication; “And more than anything else we have to find out what they want. And why it scares God so badly.”
|The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 5 by Alex Ross|