Sunday, 25 October 2015

Secret Wars #5 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic)

This is the shortest issue in Secret Wars yet at 25 pages and it’s mostly one big info dump. The funeral of the character who was killed at the end of the last issue is being held but no-one knows it were Doom what dunit. So Doom visits Owen Reece aka The Molecule Man to inform him of the death. What follows is the most artless exposition ever as Reece and Doom tell each other why universes were being destroyed and how Battleworld came about - as if they’d forgotten! 

Maybe it’s retrod ground for faithful Jonathan Hickman readers who’ve read every single issue he’s written for Marvel, but for readers like me who’re just reading Secret Wars as a standalone, it was useful to hear how it all went down. The importance of Reece, the relevance of certain characters from the Avengers/New Avengers series (what little I’ve read of them), and how exactly Doom got the power to make himself a God, as well as who he was speaking to in the first issue - it’s all uncovered here. It makes Doom kinda heroic but then he went and made himself supreme ruler of the new world so he’s still douchey ol’ Doom. 

But at five issues into the series now, I’m convinced that there’s no story to be had in Secret Wars: it’s all about the creation of this planet with Hickman doing a quasi-philosophical/religious treatise using Marvel characters. I think it’s more of a framework for Marvel to do the dozens of tie-in titles instead of its own book. 

Even though the last few pages has Valeria (who in this reality is Doom’s daughter, not Reed’s - but didn’t Valeria survive in a separate lifeboat? Unless she was a different Valeria. But if they’re the same, ie. the original survivor and not Doom’s creation, why is she on his side? Sooo confusing!) leading a taskforce to hunt down the now-scattered 616 survivors, everything’s revolving around the theme of creation. And scattering the heroes is a blatant effort to get people reading the tie-ins to see how they fare in the various warzones. I might check the tie-ins out depending on the creative teams involved. 

The whole thing is a bit unsatisfying, especially if you’re not all that taken with what’s revealed in this issue. I understand things better now but I’m also wondering, ok, got it, so… what now? 

It was recently announced that the series is being extended an extra issue which takes the count up to 9 so there’s still time to see some kind of plot emerge. But I found Secret Wars #5 to be another leaden lecture on a lofty yet unimpressive storyline with wholly forced and unnatural dialogue. It’s messy but not a mess (yet) which I suppose is the best anyone can hope for from an event comic these days! 

Thanos is grinning at the end of the issue - does that mean he farted and no-one knows it was him? Let’s read on and find out!

Secret Wars #5

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