Saturday, 9 January 2016

Secret Wars #8 - Marvel Comics

SECRET WARS No. 8, February 2016
Advertised as “the final battle against God Doom” Issue Eight of “Secret Wars” was somewhat criticised at the time of its delayed publication in December 2015 due to “the main line of Marvel titles” having “passed it by”; thereby making the “Who lives? Who dies?” major comic book event suddenly seem rather superfluous. Such a viewpoint however genuinely denigrates designer Jonathan Hickman’s sweeping storyline and belittles a magazine absolutely jam-packed full of the most destructive and cataclysmic action seen since the “the final collision of Earth-616 and Earth-1610”, as a gigantic Ben Grimm goes toe-to-toe with the equally formidable Galactus and Victor Von Doom confronts the once all-powerful Thanos…

Indeed just because the New York-based publishing company had already apparently “shifted its focus to its ‘All-New, All-Different’ titles” when this twenty-two page periodical saw print doesn’t detract from the surprises found within the storyline of “Under Siege”. Certainly few of this edition’s 169,667 readers could have anticipated The Thing’s noble defeat at the hands of an adolescent Franklin, nor just how large an enraged Groot could become given the right 'soil conditions'… And who could have predicted so final a fate for Jim Starlin’s creation, a titan who once courted Death herself and wore the Infinity Gauntlet?

The American author also manages to somehow incorporate a few genuinely ‘laugh out loud’ moments during what is otherwise an extremely tense, sometimes heart-rending, large-scale conflict. The Maestro’s short-lived triumph having “brought the entire Green North to" Doom's lands, Star-Lord’s ill-advised promise of flying Reed Richards safely into the heart of the fight and the Hulk munching on the arm of a Mister Sinister clone is only surpassed in humour by Terrax the Tamer’s brief spell as “a Herald of Galactus!”; “Hey, Dummy. I hope you like getting your butt kicked.”

Slightly disappointing, but predominantly because the majority of his panels focus upon individuals as opposed to the fracas which “is raging as far as the eye can see”, is Esad Ribic’s pencilling. The Croatian’s illustrations of Ben Grimm’s destruction of the Maestro’s Hellcarrier and subsequent slugfest with Franklin/Galactus are extremely well-drawn and genuinely suggest the sheer size of the behemoths involved. Far less satisfactory though is the comic book artist’s pages depicting the God Emperor Doom’s altercation with Thanos, and the army of Annihilus. Somewhat dialogue-heavy in parts, the two super-villains’ conversation is predominantly squeezed within the confines of a single second-rate sheet. Whilst the unimpressive arrival of the Black Panther and Namor through a trans-dimensional doorway is perhaps disproportionately allocated an entire splash page…
The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 8 by Alex Ross

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