|SECRET WARS No. 6, December 2015|
It is genuinely hard not to come away from reading one of the best-selling comics of October 2015 without a sense of bitter disappointment. For whilst Jonathan Hickman’s script is engaging enough in its portrayal of the God Emperor Doom’s medieval dictatorship unravelling around him, there really isn’t all that much for the title's devotees to get excited about. Certainly nothing that makes good upon the promising Alex Ross cover illustration, which shows a beleaguered Thanos being swamped by a shambling horde of super-villainous Marvel Zombies. Indeed such a mouth-watering confrontation doesn’t even occur within this periodical’s twenty-five pages, as Jim Starlin's creation is instead consigned to just a handful of panels depicting him goading an ‘incarcerated’ Benjamin Grimm into seeking revenge upon the “petty usurper of powers” who fooled The Thing into leaving “the only family he ever had behind.”
Just as frustrating is the fact that this particular instalment of the “Marvel Worldwide” mega-event takes place three whole weeks after the previous issue’s cliffhanger ending and thus deprives its audience of Valeria’s entire “search for the rebels who killed Stephen Strange”, Apocalypse’s “stumbling” upon Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight, as well as Black Swan’s apparent betrayal of the Cabal and suspiciously earnest subservience to the “Ruler of Battleworld”; any one of which would have been infinitely more action-packed than the dialogue-heavy scenes involving the adolescent Head of the Foundation and two surviving “Spider-Men”.
Admittedly Hickman’s storyline does still contain a small number of ‘stand-out’ moments, such as the Black Panther’s discovery of the Infinity Gauntlet hidden within the Sanctum Sanctorum. But sub-plots such as Captain Marvel's apparent ‘conquest’ of Mister Sinister’s kingdom being simply passed over in favour of laboriously lengthy conversations between Reed Richards and his ‘Ultimate’ self, The Maker, are surely wasted opportunities?
As a result the highlight of “We Raise Them Up… Just So We Can Pull Them Down” is undoubtedly Esad Ribic’s captivating and wonderfully coloured artwork. Though sadly even this appears uninspiringly subdued in places… Doubtless on account of the Croatian penciller having little material, other than characters ‘waxing lyrical’, with which to work with.
|The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 6 by Alex Ross|