Secret Wars #3

by Kalem Lalonde on June 03, 2015

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic 

Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars predictably is the comic that breaks event trends. Events are infamous for being underwhelming and that is definitely true with Marvel’s recent efforts. In its second issue, Secret Wars re-created the Marvel universe in one of its most brilliant renditions and now, the Marvel-line is adding layers upon layers to its realms and characters. Hickman doesn’t need to continue developing his world because the tie-ins are doing it for him and this issue benefits greatly from that. Hickman takes some down time to lay groundwork for upcoming character arcs and the story he wants to tell with them.

Every issue of Secret Wars thus far has been very distinct from one another. We had the end of the Marvel Universe in issue one and the introduction to Battleworld in the sophomore outing. Issue #3 had no worlds to kill or introduce and so it stays low and explores the creators of the new world and the remnants from old ones. There’s nothing unfamiliar or explosive in this issue but that’s a good thing following Hickman’s loaded debut issues. Hickman spends time developing the relationships between his leads and introducing his old leads to this new series. Every scene is fantastically written but going into this comic expecting something like the previous two issues would be wrong.

Secret Wars #3 isn’t a comic about a world, it’s mostly about the man who created it. God. Doctor Doom isn’t a character to typically doubt himself or to entertain the thought that he is anything less than perfect. His egos is so large that he didn’t give Battleworld a Sun, so that nothing could shine brighter than his might. But he’s always thought that that was what’s best for the world because there is no one who deserves it more than Doom.

To say that Hickman humanizes this stern ruler would be a colossal understatement. Instead of showing Doom in his full might, judging men like in issue #2, here we see Doom ponder his new world and his place in it with those closest to him. He’s given two interactions, one with Doctor Strange and the other with his (queen?) beloved Susan Storm (Doom?).

The former of which, Hickman establishes the relationship between these old friends and how “remembering” has brought them together in a unique way. There is an underlying respect between the two as they depend on each other’s roles for keeping the world they have created together. Though brief, this scene aptly defined the relationship between the two creators of the world. One who took credit and the other who stayed in the shadows.

The latter, with Susan, was one of the greatest Doom scenes I have ever read. Doom has always loved Sue Storm and seeing him actually with her is a revelation about the character. Like Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, Doom completely shifts when accompanied by his paramour. He’s different in demeanour, in voice, and all it does is make him even more human. Doom’s love for Susan is palpable as he treats her like an equal. That’s right, Doom treats someone like his equal.

But what this scene truly shine is Doom’s exploration of his self-vision. After 8 years of ruling a new world, Doom is beginning to question if his decisions were the correct ones. He shows that beneath his barriers, he really is like every other human being. He doubts his decisions and thinks that maybe in his perfect world, he’s the one flaw. “The only thing worth writing about is the human heart at conflict with itself.” Hickman is incorporating that perfectly into a character whose ego would previously have not permitted it.

The visual consistency of this book is another aspect that bolsters the quality Marvel have set for this event. Esad Ribic nailed the grand scale of the first two issues and it really is no surprise that he nails the smaller scaled nature of issue #3. His characters are all fully formed and expressive, while he draws every single panel with impressive details. This may not be his standout issue, but his work fits the tone of Hickman’s story so well that even if he rushed every single panel, the comic would still look good.

Jonathan Hickman is my favourite writer in comics and his Avengers run was what won him that status. It got me into monthly comics and helped me understand why I love superheroes so much. It’s a story that I will always remember. Secret Wars had a lot to live up to when I opened its first page and it exceeded my expectations. This is why I read Superhero comics and this is why Doctor Doom is my favourite villain of all time. Secret Wars #3 was an intimate issue that gave us the perfect down time necessary following its explosive predecessors but most importantly, it maintained their quality. 


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