This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
Panelteer Dana and I are reading through Secret Wars #1 together. I’m fairly familiar with Marvel and its characters, but I haven’t been reading Hickman’s Avengers run. Dana, however, has obsessively followed this Avengers run. Let’s see how different our perspectives are while reading the first part of Marvel’s entire 2nd half of 2015. (Or, let’s see how many things Dana has to explain to me.) Grab your copy of Secret Wars #1 and follow along! (Oh, and it goes without saying: spoilers for Hickman’s Avengers, New Avengers, and Secret Wars below).
DANA: ALRIGHT, how do you want to do this?
PREETI: Ok! I have the comic open, I mean I guess we could kind of just go beginning to end?
DANA: Comic opened.
Cover – time.
I see mostly people I recognize, a couple from the Ultimate U I’m unfamiliar with as I haven’t kept up.
PREETI: Yeah, I was only reading Miles Morales live, and The Ultimates on Marvel Unlimited
Much like the rest of this comic… There is just so. much. happening.
DANA: Agreed, it doesn’t matter how familiar we are or aren’t, this cover is super busy. Hard to enjoy it, personally, but that’s entirely subjective.
Have you read any of the recent Avengers run?
PREETI: I’m also reading Avengers on MU, but I figured I’d be able to kind of figure out what was going on based on reading Amazing Spider-Man & Ultimate Spidey live (this was kind of a wrong assumption to make). Ok, where are Doom and Strange andddd who is that with them? Because I assume they’re looking at the oncoming Earth 616.
DANA: OK, so this has to have a bit of story time. For the longest time, it was presumed there was a single Great Destroyer that was forcing the Earths to collide. Turned out that was our Doom. But it also turned out he wasn’t the one colliding the earths. He was just trying to kill every single body of the Molecule Man (third guy in the image) in all the multiverse.
PREETI: Was this innnn Fantastic 4? Or the current run of Avengers?
DANA: The Beyonders (multiple) in a grand experiment want to use the Molecule Men as bombs and eliminate the entire multiverse.
This was all in Avengers.
And it happened mostly in the background of about 30 some-odd pages (or at least it feels) in a 2+ year run.
Honestly, the reveal didn’t feel very fair, but yeah. Strange led some folks to find the Great Destroyer. They died. He found Doom.
Now he’s along for the ride. They are probably finally realizing they’re in over their heads.
Soooo it took about 4 paragraphs to explain the first page. Great start for newcomers.
PREETI: Okay, well that explains that. Which, I do want to point out, that I’m not even a total newcomer. Can you imagine coming to this “Big Event” as an actual newcomer? …Like. What.
DANA: LOL, yeah. This is all a bit overwhelming, to be honest. But it’s pretty!
PREETI: Ok so like what, “God”/ “Some Cosmic Energy” is talking to Doom now?
DANA: So that’s page 3. The Beyonders. They exist beyond normal space and are supergods basically. Thor and Hyperion (and others) died against them (presumably).
Remember the Beyonder from the original Secret Wars and some choice comics thereafter? His race essentially. But they look mega weird now. Like wirey aliens and mechanoids.
PREETI: Oooooh yes. Ok. I’m with you. Alright! So now we’re in Earth-1610, or Ultimate Universe.
DANA: OK, so Page 6. We’re pretty self explanatory so far. We know Fury, the Triskelion (wasn’t that blown up?), Freedom Tower (did they lose the towers?), and Hawkeye.
PREETI: Yep. Also we know Reed is evil / kind of a megalomaniac
DANA: Page 7 is another “what is that” for people not up to date with Reed and such.
PREETI: Right, so
DANA: Yup. In Ultimate Doom he locked himself in a City of his own creation (called The City) and essentially evolved himself and others for a thousand years.
We just found out a few weeks ago that he is the one who’s been killing Earths to save the Ultimate universe.
PREETI: AKA Reed Richards is still kind of a dick, but in a tooootally different way.
DANA: He eradicated most of Europe. It’s a bit beyond “dick.”
PREETI: I was underplaying it for emphasis haha
DANA: Also when his head in is that helmet, he totally stretches his skull out. It’s creepy.
PREETI: Yes, also a total creep
DANA: Yurp. So, page 8 requires a tad more explanation. Thanos, Terrax (not our Terrax), and the Black Swan are part of the Cabal, the latest Evilluminati. They blow up earths after slaughtering everyone on them because it’s fun and healthy. When they were defeated by the Illuminati, they jumped ship to the Ultimate universe.
PREETI: Yeah I was about to ask. But real quick about page 7. What I don’t get it is that clearly you should not trust Reed, and clearly Fury shouldn’t even trust him in any way about saving the world. Seems like poor characterization to me… that Fury would even entertain it (granted he is at the end of his rope, but still…)
DANA: That’s because in one of the recent issues, he had Fury see the whole thing in action. Proof that worlds were colliding. And gave him the choice of just sitting back and letting the world end. Fury had a whole Independence Day speech and all.
PREETI: AH, see, ok, that makes more sense. Ok so page 8. So now Thanos & the evil illuminati are in Ultimate U.
DANA: Yup. Thanos and crew appeared before Evil Reed. Now they seem to be on his side.
PREETI: Got it.
DANA: There are more members too, but we’ll see if they show up.
PREETI: Alright so now we get to Earth-616
DANA: Yup page 11, the sky is red, there’s a beautiful earth in the sky, and everyone’s attacking a zillion helicarriers over Manhattan. Basically a 616 Wednesday.
PREETI: It’s a scene we (and the people of 616 New York) are very familiar with
DANA: I’m surprised anyone still lives there. Honestly.
PREETI: Yo it’s still NYC bro (~ terrible New York Accent)
PREETI: The Baxter Building’s got its force field bc they will be protected AT ALL COST.
DANA: Yurp. Too bad they’re not using Tony’s super cannons from the Infinity series when Thanos invaded Earth last year or the one before.
DANA: So page 12 is typical. Except Reed has a beard.
PREETI: I’m all for superhero beards
DANA: I’m all for real life beards too.
PREETI: We are PRO BEARD
DANA: So question – is it clear that they’re trying to man a science lifeboat to preserve humanity?
PREETI: Yes, but it also felt really weirdly exclusive. Like, you show us this mass destruction and then super heroes figure out how to save a tiny segment of the population. It felt gross.
DANA: Yeah, I can see that.
PREETI: It makes rational sense… but seeing them juxtaposed like that… Icky.
DANA: Yeah. So here’s where everyone asks the real questions.
PREETI: Ok so yes.
DANA: Why not make another Earth? Why not move the planet? Why not seed something?
On a cosmic level.
The celestials are dead.
Galactus is missing and presumed.
Every attempt at making new worlds led to suns dying.
PREETI: Which is all innnn? Which series?
DANA: Something was attempted with Franklin Richards, that ended with big injury.
Again, the Avengers.
Everything has ONLY been in the Avengers or New Avengers.
The Infinity Gems are shattered and gone.
Basically there are no options at all but to try and survive with enough people to start up a new race.
Or blow up the Ultimate Earth.
PREETI: So who decided who gets to go
Who gave Black Widow the passenger list?
DANA: The Illuminati selected the best and brightest. Some bowed out.
Like Hulk bowed out, he’s too dangerous.
PREETI: Makes sense
DANA: Someone else was shamed, I can’t remember who.
And they unilaterally voted against Tony Stark.
After Old Man Steve told them there was no fucking chance.
See, for some reason, this is all HIS fault.
PREETI: That makes sense from a Tony is being an asshole again kind of way, I guess?
DANA: But it doesn’t make sense to see it that way. See, all Tony did was continue to form the Avengers. The only crime he actually did was lie and say, “We have a chance”
DANA: Everyone blames this all on him. I don’t know why it really works for them, but it does.
PREETI: Ok. So now we have everyone in Manhattan helping people or on the lifeboat
DANA: Yup, and Eden is prepping some level of teleportation. And Ultimate Iron Man is using the Iron Man 6 unit (as seen in Ultimates volume 2 about a decade ago)
PREETI: Right, then Colossus throws The Hulk into Fury’s building on Ultimate Earth?
DANA: I think so, but let’s make a pitstop before that. Page 16, sentinels.
PREETI: Oh right, whether they’re good or bad.
DANA: This is where I have a problem personally. It was established in the “future” issues of Avengers (which would be a few weeks ago now) that the mutants lived in a scary autonomous Nation X. And they had Sentinels. A lot of stuff we’ve seen in these “future” issues became the status quo in the regular timeline. Like Sunspot bought AIM.
PREETI: Right, under Cyclops’ leadership.
DANA: Nation X, however, never freaking happens.
DANA: It’s still entirely self-contained in Avengers. We don’t even know how/when he got a Phoenix egg. Is it the one from Morrison’s run? We don’t know.
PREETI: Yeah that was pretty frustrating. This comic felt like the opposite of what Marvel used to feel like, which was, you could pick up a series anywhere and kind of figure out what’s going on
DANA: I’m kinda hoping that’s the end goal again. I mean, remember a couple Crises ago when DC had their Silver Age folks come out since they were so distressed at all the violence and MURDERED EVERYONE? It’s like “I’m sick of all these snakes, let’s let them all bite first”
PREETI: hahahaha Ok wait is the big pink thing Miles is standing on earth or is that Reed’s city?
PREETI: Ok. It just looks like the same shade as the “Earth” that’s heading towards 616
DANA: so we’ve jumped to page 21
PREETI: Sorry, yes. Haha.
DANA: lol, happens
Also, if people want to know why Hulk isn’t going by Hulk and has a mohawk, they just have to read Aveng… err… wait, no, that’s in Hulk. No worries.
PREETI: Hahahaha, that one I have the first issue of but have not yet picked up. It really feels like you need to be up on EVERYTHING to read this issue
DANA: It starts off kinda questionable and gets really really good.
PREETI: … which… how feasible is that
DANA: better question – how EXPENSIVE is that?
DANA: how much does it cost to understand this book?
PREETI: SO MUCH MONEY
DANA: Marvel should really think about that.
PREETI: Oh, they do
DANA: booo, you’re so right.
So page 23, we get a good ole taste of awesome.
Fisk is hosting an end of the world party and Punisher shows up to poop on it. With bullets.
PREETI: Yeah, I appreciated page 23 a lot. Also let’s call out how great these email addresses are: email@example.com
DANA: who is “firstname.lastname@example.org”?
Normie’s is the best
PREETI: hahaha yessss
but who is whocares?
PREETI: Must be
Ok so page 24
Did Black Widow just die?
DANA: Probably, yup. Any everyone with her.
PREETI: So Spider-Woman presumably
DANA: Wait, let’s pull up the A-Force cover.
They’re both on it, but that doesn’t mean anything.
PREETI: True. But let’s pretend it means they’re not dead, for my heart’s sake.
DANA: I can’t, sorry. Because otherwise I’d be able to pretend Rocket Raccoon didn’t get SHOT IN THE CHEST on page 26. And he’s clearly dead
PREETI: UGH I AM ALSO PRETENDING THAT
What’s frustrating I think… is that there’s SO MUCH HAPPENING that these deaths lose their impact a little bit though to me that means maybe they’re not permanent.
DANA: Well, we know they’re rebooting everything in December or January. We don’t know what all that entails, but we’re pretty sure that means it’s open season on heroes and villains.
Also check out the middle panel where Rocket gets shot. Look at Gamora behind him. I don’t see why so much is so pretty… but not that.
PREETI: Yeah. So eden is pulling these heroes
DANA: But how is he choosing them?
PREETI: Yeah, but not Gamora and Drax and Groot I guess? Right. I was going to say human, but Thor
DANA: But not Captain Marvel?
PREETI: No she goes
DANA: But she has alien energies, but Star-Lord is only half Human
DANA: Oh, I see. For some reason I thought that was explodey glow. Why not Storm?
But then why Cyclops?
omg are they only pulling white people?
PREETI: bc HE’S THE PHOENIX
DANA: or does Panther not want his ex around?
PREETI: hahaha awwww Storm
DANA: Dick move T’Challa
PREETI: And wait did Sue’s thing explode… what happened there
DANA: So on Page 31 the life raft is hit by the storms brewing between worlds and her section with Reed, the kids, and looks like Thing, are shunted away.
Aaaaand it explodes
And then at the end, it’s Doom talking, yes?
(it probably does not help that I’m reading this on my phone)
DANA: no, it’s Reed
he’s realizing there is no Hope.
PREETI: oh duh
DANA: I capitalize that
because this is Hickman
and Hickman had someone come from the future and tell us something very important way back when in his Fantastic Four run.
“ALL HOPE LIES IN DOOM”
I assume all hope will lie in doom
DANA: Well, he spent apparently the past decade+ fighting this war. So what happens next?
PREETI: Well, first, overall I liked the issue, it was energetic, and even though I didn’t understand everything that was going on, I was still engaged in the plot
Second – they land on the moon?
Too bad the watcher’s not there to not-give them a hand
DANA: Watcher’s dead! All we have is Nick Fury as something like a Watcher chained to the moon.
PREETI: lol exactly
DANA: But that’s another loose end we might never unravel.
DANA: I liked the issue too, it’s frenetic, desperate, and unrelenting. I’m worried it’ll turn people off and not have them tune into issue 2, but we’ll see.
PREETI: Yeah, but I think Marvel will think of a way to pull those people back in with teasers etc
DANA: Also where did they land? There should be no available universes left. Does the white space between have asteroids?
PREETI: We’ll find out!
IN ISSUE TWO OF THE SECRET WARS
dun dun dunnnnnnn
DANA: SAME BAT TIME
SAME BAT— what?
So, tell us what you thought of Marvel’s kick-off to their next Big Event!
Note: An informal poll amongst the Panelteers on an “accessibility scale” of 1-10 where 1 was “what is this?” and 10 is “I totally got all of it”, most rated a 4 or 6 giving us an average of 5. Very few rated 1 or 2, but even fewer rated 8 or 9.
So, any questions about Secret Wars? Do you have an accessibility rating? Come discuss in the comments
Join us for Book Riot Live this November—hang out with people who love books, comics, and geeking out!