Marvel’s Secret Wars (2015): A Graphic Novel Review

As the biggest comic book event of 2015 and arguably one of the best publications in the recent years of Marvel Comics, the graphic novel series Secret Wars, written by Jonathan Hickman and penned by Esad Ribić, takes its readers on a universe shattering adventure of epic proportions. The limited series, which consists of 9 extra sized issues, also aims to set the groundwork for the upcoming All-New, All-Different Marvel universe.

secret wars/Photo by Ádám Márton Kling/

Secret Wars begins right after the last issues of Avengers and New Avengers, also written by Jonathan Hickman, where two realities, the Earth 616 (main Marvel universe) and the Earth 1610 (Ultimate universe) collide and destroy each other. Before the disaster eradicates both Earths, some of the heroes manage to escape from their dying planet on a spaceship later called the “Life Raft”. Meanwhile, the villain Doctor Doom and his partner in crime Molecule Man absorb the powers of the aliens, the “Beyonders”, who have caused the catastrophe in the first place. Doom, using his newly acquired godlike abilities, creates a patchwork world known as “Battleworld” from the salvaged pieces of other destroyed realities. After the creation of this patchwork planet, Victor von Doom, now calling himself God Doom, declares himself the sole ruler of the newly formed reality.

A few years pass under Doom’s rulership, when suddenly a spacecraft is discovered in one of the kingdoms of “Battleworld”. As it turns, out a group of villains also survived the incursion of the two Earths. Revealing themselves as the villainous group known only as the Cabal, the Earth 1610 survivors set out to discover the world they have stranded upon. Meanwhile, the “Life Raft” is also recovered, and the heroes also emerge in a desolate territory of “Battleworld”. Now, without going further into spoiler territory, the two groups meet with each other and they decide to overthrow God Doom and reverse the effects of the incursions that destroyed their realities. The final battle in issue 9 occurs between two mortal foes: Mister Fantastic from the Fantastic Four, who is also known as Reed Richards, fights Doctor Doom, who is his biggest adversary from the FF comics. In the wake of their fierce fight there are casualties, great sacrifices, redemption and a new beginning. At the end of this huge story arc, the readers can witness the birth of a new world dubbed Earth Prime as the foundations of the All-New, All-Different Marvel universe are laid down.

The current Secret Wars event has been in development for a couple of years now, and its publication marks an important milestone for Marvel Comics and the Marvel brand itself. Hickman’s run on the Avengers, the New Avengers, and the Fantastic Four series have all led to this very moment. Although the series, which started in May 2015, faced several delays during its publication, it was worth waiting for the next chapter. The story feels like a fresh mix of a Homeric epic and a story from the Bible, with beautiful Picasso level artwork added to it. Secret Wars (2015) plays with biblical themes and touches on topics such as godhood, tyranny and rebirth. To keep readers on the edge of their seats, Hickman constructs a compelling and intriguing tale with twists and turns at every corner of the graphic novel. Each of the 9 issues is longer than a standard comic book, as every single part of the story from the first to the last instalment contains more than the average 24 pages. Add the brilliant and almost painting like quality artwork of Esad Ribić to the mix, and you get the most unique and complex graphic novel of this decade, which truly feels like an adventure that is worth reading.

While the conclusion of Secret Wars marks the end of an era at Marvel Comics it also gives new readers an opportunity to join the ever expanding fan base of the most successful comic book company of the century. This graphic novel is recommended for all comic book fans and for all those who want to start reading Marvel’s newest wave of mind-bending graphic novels, which are scheduled to debut in 2016.

Published by Ádám Márton Kling

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