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Secret Wars #3 (of 8)

Writer & Designer: Jonathan Hickman 

Artist: Esad Ribic

Color Artist: Ive Svorcina

Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos

Review by Joey Braccino

I’M BEGINNING TO THINK THAT IN MY PERFECT WORLD…

I AM THE ONE FLAWED THING.

Two houses, both alike in dignity...

Two houses, both alike in dignity…

Marvel’s Secret Wars rages on as the true nature of Battleworld is finally (?) revealed!!! It’s strange to say that some of the most pressing “secrets” of Secret Wars are revealed in issue #3—less than one month since the debut of the “Universe-Changing” event—and yet here we are, and Jonathan Hickman has quickly and efficiently explained the origins of Battleworld, Strange and Doom’s role in its creation, and the status of our lifeboat survivors from Earth-616 and -1610. From here, it will be interesting to see how Hickman plays with his Battleworld setting and, probably, “saving” the Marvel Universe.

If Secret Wars #1 was the end of the Marvel Universe via Final Incursion and Secret Wars #2 was our introduction to Battleworld via Day-In-The-Life Thors-position, then Secret Wars #3 is our return to a clear, direct plotline. Hickman is no longer world-building and playing (that’s what the plethora of Battleworld and Warzone mini-series are for); instead, he finally brings back the dangling plot threads from the end of his Avengers and New Avengers series and the end of Secret Wars #1. We get answers regarding Doctors Doom and Strange and how their actions at the end of New Avengers/Secret Wars #contributed to the creation of Battleworld (sidenote: I WAS RIGHT). Some of the very best scenes from this issue feature Dr. Doom waxing poetic about his godhood and his failures. Hickman’s handling of Doom’s voice is exquisite; he portrays the once hyperbolically, stereotypically pompous character as a tragic hero of sorts, at once the savior and the villain of this series. It is this complexity that has always made Doom a compelling character, and Hickman seems to relish the opportunity to explore him in this new realm.

The scene of dialogue between Doom and Susan Storm is loaded with reveals regarding the nature of Battleworld. It also culminates in one of the most shocking, most poignant revelations in all of Marvel history. The less said the better, but I will say it is incredibly powerful and speaks to Hickman’s ability to craft character into his complex plotting.

We also get answers regarding the lifeboats (yes, lifeboats plural). I won’t go into too much detail regarding the lifeboats  because the reveals in these scenes are so heavy and relieving and exciting that I simply don’t want to ruin the fun. And yes, there are bits of levity and fun amidst the intensity and machinations. The reunion of two iconic characters later in the issue is both super fun and super moving.

Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina continue to deliver a distinct, engaging visual experience from start to finish. I do see the “duck face” complaints of some readers and reviewers, but ultimately Ribic and Svorcina’s dynamic, unique naturalism is expansive and visceral enough to outweigh those small inconsistencies. The aforementioned climax to the Doom conversation is only effective in as much as Ribic and Svorcina deliver visually, and its power as an iconic moment is owed entirely to the art here.

I also want to add that Chris Eliopoulos is the f**king best in the business for his work on this series. As Earth-616, Earth-1610, and Battleworld characters interact, Eliopoulos has to bounce between standard all-caps and mixed lettering, sometimes in a single panel. He makes it look seamless.

Verdict

Buy. Surprisingly, Secret Wars is moving very quickly. The most intriguing part about this whole enterprise is that literally anything can happen. This dynamism and creative energy can be seen in the multitude of spin-offs and tie-ins that are gracing the stands right now. It is refreshing, however, to see that Hickman’s main series is just as imaginative and powerful as some of those wackier series. If anything, the fact that end-game of Secret Wars is still so elusive makes it one of the more engaging event comics in recent years. After 3 issues, I feel like I know a lot more than I expected regarding Battleworld, but I don’t know yet how all of this is going to play out.

And I find that exciting. Check it!

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