|SECRET WARS No. 9, March 2016|
Supposedly delayed in order to accommodate a “story [which] got bigger, the revelations more shocking, [and] the scale of the action grander than any of us anticipated” this final edition of the “Secret Wars” event was arguably still not the “Marvel Worldwide” magnum opus which Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso undoubtedly hoped his creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic had achieved. In fact the thirty-four page periodical didn’t even manage to become the best-selling comic of January 2016, on account of selling seven thousand less copies than Issue One Hundred and Fifty of “The Walking Dead” by “Image Comics”.
“Beyond” does however succeed in containing an incredibly impressive beginning, and one which must have initially thrilled the vast majority of the book’s 149,028 readers, with its depiction of Victor Von Doom finally fighting the Infinity Gauntlet wearing T’Challa “on the earth. In the sky. And the heavens above.” Sadly such a cataclysmic confrontation, and one which sees both combatants collide at the helm of giant robots as well as in spirit forms, is over as quickly as Namor the Sub-Mariner is disposed of ignominiously, and what initially promised to be an all-out battle-fest of a publication is rather disappointingly (and abruptly) replaced by Reed Richards and his alternative self ‘waxing lyrical’ with one another whilst the royal consort Susan Storm finally sees her beloved for the cold, calculating killer this mini-series’ audience has always known him to be…
Admittedly the subsequent wrestling match between Mister Fantastic and an impoverished God Emperor Doom provides plenty of entertainment, especially as it seems like an eternity since the founding member of the Fantastic Four has used his elasticity in so aggressive an attack. But even this brutal sequence is brought to a somewhat hasty conclusion, as Victor foolishly verbally acknowledges his belief that his pliable adversary could “have solved it all” and “done so… much… better…” than himself as Ruler of Battleworld; an admission which causes the omnipotent Owen Reese to suddenly strip the Latverian of his great power and somewhat capriciously bestow it upon Richards instead.
Surprisingly Ribic’s pencilling for this over-sized finale is also rather substandard in places. A frustrating facet considering Alonso attributed much of this magazine’s postponement upon the artist requiring “extra time and space”. The Croatian illustrator’s panels are certainly well-drawn at the start of the comic. But seemingly soon start to lose their ‘wow’ factor as the South Carolina-born writer’s script requires Esad to depict events “eight months later” and presumably forced the graphic designer to utilise bare all-white backgrounds and the occasional splash page just to ‘pad out’ proceedings.
|The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 9 by Alex Ross|