- Writer: Jonathan Hickman
- Artist: Esad Ribic
- Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
- Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
While the first issue of Secret Wars started with a very impressive bang, creating a larger-than-life battle between some of our all-time favorite superheroes, the second issue settles into a bit of a disappointing routine. With the Marvel Universe destroyed, writer Jonathan Hickman sets about creating the new Battleworld to take its place. And while Hickman has some neat ideas, this still feels like just another alternate reality story.
Considering House of M, Age of Ultron, Spider-Verse, Age of X and others, there have been a lot of alternate reality storylines in the past few years. Try as they might, Hickman and Ribic just don’t provide any reason why this one should matter more than any others.
But Secret Wars is still starting out, so surely this creative team has a few more tricks up their sleeves. Hickman has the fact that this isn’t your typical alternate reality going for him, and I hope he can pull off something exciting from this ‘end of the universe’ premise. But Secret Wars #2 is just a tour of the new playground, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.
A subplot in Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers epic saw Doctor Doom at the heart of everything, facing off against the cosmic Beyonders. And now that the multiverse has been destroyed, all that remains is Doctor Doom and the world he apparently managed to create in his own image. He is god king to the denizens of Battleworld, ruling from his iron throne over all of creation. As this issue’s handy dandy map shows us, Battleworld is broken up into several dozen different zones, each one representing a kingdom, with each kingdom based upon a different classic Marvel story. Each kingdom has their own baron, and each baron answers to Doom.
In Secret Wars #2, we get a tour of how things work these days. Various alternate Thors serve as the police force for the entire world, and when matters arise between kingdoms, they are settled in Doom’s court. In this issue, we see a dispute between Mr. Sinister and Captain Britain, each ruler of their own respective kingdoms. There are also cameos from Doctor Strange, Sue Storm and her children, each with an important role in Doom’s court.
Hickman does a well enough job establishing his universe. The police force of Thors is pretty neat. And it’s curious to see how Doom positioned Sue, her children and Stephen Strange in his ideal world. But like I said, there’s nothing yet to separate Battleworld from every other alternate reality we’ve ever seen. Battleworld might be all that remains from the Multiverse, but it still feels like the Multiverse of old.
Of course, the issue ends with the promise of a big shake up, so at least there’s that.
Ribic and his art team remain an amazing choice for this comic. Having just come off a lengthy run on Thor’s solo comic, Ribic’s constant use of the Thor police force looks fantastic, as does pretty much every character he draws. We don’t get to see too much of the fantastical in this issue, but Ribic’s characters are strong regardless. There’s one scene where a hero is banished to the world of Marvel Zombies, and as he ignites the sword they gave him as a defense, it’s a truly epic moment. Whatever Hickman has in store for Secret Wars, we’re all very lucky that Ribic will be there to draw it.
I still have faith that Secret Wars is going to be something interesting. I don’t particularly plan on picking up any of the tie-ins, but Hickman and Ribic are working on something epic in the main series. The end of the issue promises a lot of fun going forward. And I’ve been waiting for years for Doctor Doom to be at the heart of one of these Big Events. Here’s hoping Hickman has some big plans for Battleworld.
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