Secret Wars #3 (June 2015) Review

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Spoilers: Keep in mind that my method of reviewing involves spoilers for purposes of analysis. If you care about being spoiled and have not read Secret Wars #3 yet, please avoid this review until you do!!

Okay, so I wrote a whole review for Spider-Verse #2, before I realized that I hadn’t reviewed Spider-Verse #1 yet. So… I’ll put that up tomorrow along with the review for issue #1. Anyway, onto Secret Wars #3. The moment I saw this cover I thought “Oh man… this is it! This is when we are FINALLY going to see some war in Secret Wars! Sure,  the Battleworld comic was disappointing in that regard, but they must have just been saving it all for the main series! I mean, look at that cover! The two worlds on opposite sides of a split Reed Richards! Finally! Some action!” …Yeah… I was wrong. This is really an issue about explaining the way that Battleworld works and the history we are dealing with. That’s… fine, but we are now three issues into the eight issue main-series, and thus far it has all just been about establishing the world. To be fair to this issue, though, it establishes some very interesting things about the world that I’ve been curious about since the details on Battleworld came to light (which is more than I can say for issue #2), so let’s get to that.

The very first scene in this book is Stephen Strange and Doctor Doom discussing the creation of the world. This is fascinating to me, because I feel like Jonathan Hickman is really pulling some inspiration from the epic fantasy genre. Apparently, Doom and Strange pulled together pieces of the world after the incursion and they created “Battleworld,” and Doom became God, because he actually created the universe, as far as anyone knows. That’s COOL! Like that’s way cooler than any explanation I could have, or did, come up with. Kudos to them. And I thought that this made for a really interesting opening to the issue. In fact, I wish it had been the opening to the series. Imagine that. Just starting with this conversation, establishing why the world is the way it is, but not giving any lead-up. That would have been jarring in a an actually interesting way that the Thor-centered Issue #2 was just not, really, and it would have also strangely made the whole less confusing. But that isn’t what Hickman chose to do, instead we get the explanation in issue #3, and I continue to feel like issue #2 was a waste. But I digress. The point is, we get a lot of epic-fantasy level world building in this issue. Doom is God, because he and Stephen created the world, and Stephen did not want to be God. The world’s sun is actually the human torch, who was turned into the sun by Susan Storm as punishment for standing against Doom, and Battleworld has apparently existed for eight years.

Ooookay… This is actually one of the things that really bothers me about this issue (I promise I’ll get to some stuff I like in  a second). We get all this really interesting back story. Human Torch fighting against Doom and being turned into the sun, Strange finding the life raft and deciding to leave it for three years, because he thought it would be better that way, Doom saving everybody, eight years of conflict (apparently) and yet we are left with one book of pure action (Issue #1, which is pre-Battleworld), and then two books covering what seems, at least so far, to be the least interesting time in the eight-year existence of Battleworld. Now, I am certain this will turn around, but there are only eight issues in this series, and we are now done with three of them. Marvel can’t afford to take this as slow as they are.

Now onto the things I really liked. I said earlier that I loved that first scene between Strange and Doom, and I did. There are actually a lot of things I liked about this issue. I liked the explanations we got. They were intriguing (so much so that I am mad about not seeing some of the events that were described in this issue in greater detail). In a lot of ways, this would have made the perfect Secret Wars #1 (as I think I pointed out earlier in its review, I think the actual Secret Wars #1 should have been like a lead-up book or something), or, if not #1, certainly #2. It’s the fact that it’s the third issue that makes me nervous. I loved seeing both Spider-Men show up. The interaction between Miles and Peter, while brief, was exciting. And I loved the Doctor Doom face reveal. Oh man, what a gorgeous panel that was. I think I have nailed down what does and doesn’t work for me about Esad Ribic’s art. He has this way of doing comic art that almost makes it look like oil paint. It’s a really cool effect, but what it means is that the larger, more chaotic panels look less detailed, and some of the effect gets lost for me. These close up shots, though, like the one of Doom’s face, are GORGEOUS.

In any case, the issue is very well done overall, but I REALLY hope we get to see some conflict in issue #4. As I’ve already discussed, my hopes for the Battleworld comic showing those conflicts got crushed after reading issue #1, so I’m certainly not going to find it there. I will try to have all the other reviews up by the end of this weekend (Including June’s issue of Ms. Marvel, which I will start reviewing on this blog), so look forward to those. Sorry again for the absence.

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