- Writer: Jonathan Hickman
- Artist: Esad Ribic
- Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
- Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
- Publisher: Marvel Comics
Secret Wars #3 starts to dive into the meat of this crossover, and writer Jonathan Hickman proves he has what it takes to keep this Big Event together. I wasn’t a fan of his Infinity crossover in 2013, as it depended too much on Hickman’s big, cosmic ideas and not enough on the characters in place. He seems to have switched gears completely for Secret Wars, delivering a very personable, very touching comic.
That Doctor Doom might be the most sympathetic character in the series so far is just icing on the cake. Sweet, sweet, Doomalicious icy!
The first issue of Secret Wars gave us the end of the old universe, and the second issue gave us a tour of the new universe. So it’s up to this third issue to really get the ball rolling in terms of drama and story. Hickman has established Doom as the living god-king of Battleworld, overseeing this patchwork land of various alternate realities. Hickman kicks off this issue with the revelation that both Doom and his right-hand man, Doctor Strange, still remember what the old universe was like. They remember being at the edge of oblivion and creating Battleworld to do what they could to keep existence breathing.
Hickman dives even deeper during a personal moment between Doom and his consort, Sue Richards, wherein Doom admits that he might not be as amazing as he’s always believed. We even get to see behind Doom’s iron mask to the broken man underneath. Doom saved the universe, and the way it weighs on him is a powerful moment for the character. One might even say he could be the star of Secret Wars.
But lest we forget everybody else, Hickman also uses this issue to introduce the rest of our cast: the survivors of Marvel 616. Issue #1 saw several familiar heroes finding shelter in Reed Richards’ life raft, and that raft is opened in issue #3, revealing a few characters who are likely going to rock Doom’s boat going forward.
Reed Richards isn’t going to be very happy when he finds out that his wife is Doom’s consort.
With the tie-ins playing around in the different districts in Battleworld, Hickman and Ribic are free to focus on the main characters who will drive the larger story. And that focus has made Secret Wars special so far. Hickman has been building to this story for years, and he’s clearly in his element. His Doctor Doom is a complex, fascinating character, while still retaining his legendary persona. Same for Doctor Strange, who has much to do, even when he’s just a majordomo. And both the heroic survivors and the villainous Cabal promise to make this a story to remember. We visit alternate realities all the time in comics, but it’s not often that one of the regular universe characters shows up to check things out.
Ribic and his art team, meanwhile, are killing it on Secret Wars. The grand visuals of Battleworld are a sight to behold, and one hopes when this is over, Marvel finds a way to keep him drawing great landscapes. Ribic’s characters are equally well done, whether they’re possessed of regal importance, dark villainy or small humanity. If he can maintain this quality over the whole series, Secret Wars will be one of the best drawn events in a long time.
We have yet to really hit the major action of Secret Wars, but Hickman and Ribic are doing more than enough to set the stage. We’ve got our Battleworld, we’ve got our main characters, and we know that the stakes are going to be nothing less than the fate of existence itself. I like where this is going.
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