Secret Wars (1984) – A Comic Classic Review

Cover to Secret Wars (1984) #1!

Cover to Secret Wars (1984) #1!

Alright, maybe I use the term “classic” loosely but it certainly counts as something if, 30 years later, it’s still floating around in the Marvel Comics consciousness. This was Marvel’s first big “event,” where heroes and villains from across their titles ended up together in the same place dealing with the same situation.

And it shows – there are a lot of moments with people introducing themselves and clearly meeting for the first time. By today in the comics, the X-Men have fought Avengers numerous times, and half of everyone has been a member of the Avengers, there have been team-ups, and other big events have happened… there’s a whole lot less of the characters not knowing each other!

So quick synopsis: what the heck was a “Secret War?” Well, a handful of Marvel heroes (like most of the Avengers and X-Men, Spider-Man, most of the Fantastic Four… oh, and Magneto) and villains (like Dr. Doom, Ultron, the Wrecking Crew, Absorbing Man, Doctor Octopus… oh, and Galactus) find themselves whisked away across the cosmos to separate space stations. Down below, they watch as a new planet is formed – formed with pieces of other planets, a patchwork planet that comes to be called “Battleworld.”

Oh yeah and a galaxy is destroyed. Don't worry - I think it gets better.

Oh yeah and a galaxy is destroyed. Don’t worry – I think it gets better.

Then, after showing off its power, a voice speaks to them all: battle to the death, and they will be rewarded with their greatest wish. To top off the show of power, Galactus – his greatest desire being to stop wanting to eat planets – just goes straight for the voice and the glowy spot in space that is its source (the Beyonder). And Galactus is struck down.

What follows is 12 issues (a year) of the villains selfishly – and then following Doom’s orders – working to win the battles, and the heroes not quite getting along to fully stop the baddies. There are civilians, alien technology, and all sorts of things on the different patchwork pieces of the planet. So each fight is different, with new stakes or toys at their disposal. Galactus tries to eat the planet, Doom comes up with a scheme and gets the Beyonder power and loses it… and yeah, end result, not too much happens.

Although for a while, Doom has a face again. Cover to Secret Wars #11

Although for a while, Doom has a face again. Cover to Secret Wars #11

Okay, there are a few results. Some of the people summoned sound like they were dead in the comics and come back. Some new heroes and villains are created. I would say the biggest result was really Spider-Man finding the Symbiote suit, which would come to be known as Venom…

Dat headline...

Dat headline…

This was Marvel just getting started with events. Part of the idea is that “relevant” things should happen, character resurrections or deaths, suit changes, stuff like that. Big stakes, and seeing how the characters deal with them. And then usually a big reset button to return almost everything to normal. Marvel would get better at this, and one of the best is probably still the Infinity Gauntlet for stand-alone all-powerful-villain events, or else the Age of Apocalypse for alternate-reality-creating impact.

The creation of Battleworld!

The creation of Battleworld!

So why am I talking about Secret Wars? Well, more than anything, because they’re returned to Secret Wars in the comics. The first Secret Wars was the result of a single, all-powerful Beyonder having a whim to be entertained. The current Secret Wars is so much bigger than that – it’s the result of every Beyonder working together. Instead of a Battleworld built out of a few scraps of planets, the new Battleworld is built out of the last scraps of the entire multiverse – of all of the Marvel alternate universes. It’s an event which is seemingly taking apart the entire Marvel Comics universe, with the idea that it will for real and true never be the same again.

So how did they get there? That’s a post for another day – so I’ll be back soon with Time Runs Out!

Images copyright Marvel, and captured from the Marvel Unlimited service.

Top 10 Marvel Characters, part 2

by Jeremy DeFatta

Good day, everyone! Today, I want to finish laying out my top ten favorite Marvel Comics characters. Here are numbers 6-10.

6. Wolverine – He’s the best there is at what he does and the man who just won’t die. For the longest time, he was as WolverineThumbmysterious as the Joker, and a lot of fans were upset when writers gave him a concrete origin. I’ve found that knowing Logan’s true background, and that his real name is James Howlett, in no way diminish how I enjoy the character.

He’s powerful in ways other superheroes are not, and he never backs down from a fight. There’s more to him than the violence, too; he can also be a tender caretaker to fellow outcasts. If I had to offer up a couple of recent stories/series that really show off the strengths of the character, I would recommend Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan and Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force.

7. Cable – He’s one of those corny 90s characters that has gotten better with age. He’s a damaged soldier from the future who comes back in time to try to prevent the hellish events that eventually destroy his world. Sadly, very few people listen to him after he helps the X-Men defeat Apocalypse. As the (possible) future son of Jean Grey and Scott Summers (Cyclops), Cable (or Nathan Grey) has some of the greatest power potential of any mutant in the Marvel Universe. It is appropriate that people began to see him as a sort of Christ-figure in Cable & Deadpool from last decade, one of several series I talk about in some detail in my Top Marvel Stories Since 2000 post.

8. Rogue – I’m beginning to see that this half of the list is a bit mutant-heavy, which is interesting given the fact that I’m RogueThumbnot a huge fan of the state of the X-books at Marvel currently. Anyway, Rogue is one of my favorite characters in Marvel for several reasons—she’s my favorite of Wolverine’s “little sister” characters, she’s one of the few unashamed Southern superheroes, I grew up watching her on the old X-Men cartoon, and I’ve been into comics long enough to have watched her grow a great deal as a character. To get a better view of her in recent years, I recommend Mike Carey’s run on X-Men: Legacy and Rick Remender’s current run on Uncanny Avengers.

9. Age of Apocalypse Sabretooth, Spider-Man 2099, Morph and other Exiles characters – This one is a bit of a cheat, pulling in an entire group of characters. Exiles was a work of genius: plumb Marvel’s endless multiverse for alternate timeline versions of known characters (and many unknown characters), build a team out of them, and send them on missions to repair damaged timelines with the promise they can one day go home, Quantum Leap-style.

By using nothing but new and side characters from and in alternate universes, the writers of Exiles were free to shrug off the restraints of continuity and tell whatever stories they pleased. Unlike in most mainstream comic stories, the characters in Exiles could and sometimes did die on missions. I still have difficulty articulating the feelings I experienced throughout this series. Definitely check it out if you ever get the chance. Check out my most recent comics news roundup for pleasing information on Spider-Man 2099’s next adventure.

DoomCover

10. Victor von Doom – What’s a list of heroes without a villain? Dr. Doom is my choice. Doom can be cruel, but he is an honorable man, and this extends to many different versions of the character. I would argue that, deep down, he is a truly good person, but his arrogance and sense of noblesse oblige get in the way of him ever being purely heroic. Check out Mark Millar’s run on Ultimate Fantastic Four and Jonathan Hickman’s run on the original Fantastic Four to see what I mean.

And that wraps up my list. Thank you all for reading both parts. What do you think of this half? Who do you feel I’ve left off? Let me know your thoughts below. Don’t forget to support your local comic shops. Tweet me @quaintjeremy.

Images: Wolverine from the The New Avengers #5 cover (March 2005) by David Finch, via Wikipedia. Rogue cover image from Rogue #2 (February 1995) by Mike Wieringo and Terry Austin, via Wikipedia. Doctor Doom: Fantastic Four #247 (Oct. 1982) cover by John Byrne via Wikipedia.

All Marvel characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 1996 Marvel Characters, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.