Welcome to The Pull List, a weekly column where we check out a first issue of a new series and tell you whether or not to follow the comic based only on that. This week I’ll be taking a look at Marvel’s latest big publisher-wide event, Secret Wars!
Yes, that’s right, it’s that time already. Marvel has been teasing this one for a little while now. promising that Secret Wars will be the continuity reboot to end all continuity reboots. They’re compressing their traditional Marvel universe and the Ultimate Marvel universe (as well as, technically, all other alternate universes in the Marvel comics) to combine one single continuity.
If that sounds like a really big goal, then you’re absolutely right! keeping in mind that this is a story line that will inevitably play out over eight issues of Secret Wars, as well as individual series tie-ins, it still feel like maybe too big a goal. At least, from reading this first issue, that was the vibe that I got.
All the action happens at breakneck speed, and there’s so many concepts and ideas being tossed out per page, that it’s almost impossible to keep up with it all. The basic idea, though, is that the Ultimates universe and the Marvel universe are colliding with each other, and Ultimate Reed Richards has convinced/tricked Ultimate Nick Fury into using S.H.I.E.L.D. to attack the Marvel universe first. So it’s a no-holds-barred throwdown between the best of both worlds.
But because there are only so many pages in this book, but like a gazillion heroes in the Marvel universe(s), that means that we only get brief glimpses of heroes before having to switch gears super fast to focus on something else happening to someone else, somewhere else. As an example, the Punisher shows up for all of a single page, in a little bit that has literally nothing to do with anything else, and then is never mentioned again.
This entire event is “written and designed” by Jonathan Hickman, and while I love quite a bit of Hickman’s independent stuff (go check out Manhattan Projects and East of West, because they are both great), I’m not really sold on the idea that he can work cohesively with these big crossover events.
The last big event that Hickman helmed that I read was Infinity, which, much like Secret Wars so far suffered from idea overload. There is so much being handled and dealt with at any given moment, that it all threatens to become unintelligible nonsense. But that’s the threat with something this big, you’ve either got to say screw it and throw everything into the pot, or you’ve got to let it simmer for a lot longer than eight issues.
Overall, it’s hard to say whether or not Secret Wars seems like the right way to go about things. Honestly, I feel that the concept is going to be much more interesting than the actual execution. I’m more excited to read recaps once this whole thing is done – to see who wins, who dies, and who lives – than to actually dig through the nitty gritty and figure that stuff out on my own.