Secret Wars cranked up the intensity with the second issue. Hickman has crafted an exquisite setting in Battleworld and has assembled an interesting and impressive cast of characters. Can Secret Wars #3 keep the excitement going and deliver another strong read? Let’s find out.
Words: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Esad Ribic
Colors: Ive Svorcina
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Sheriff Strange giving God Doom a run down of the latest minor transgressions between the various kingdoms. Strange mentions how Sinister continues to be disrespectful and at some point they are going to have to smack Sinister down. Doom asks Strange why he is boring him with such trivial matters. Strange says that Doom is Omnipotent but not Omniscient. By keeping tabs on every little thing that goes on in Battleworld they can then isolate and see when potential threats to Doom are on the rise.
Doom opens a hidden door and Strange and Doom walk into a beautiful Garden of Eden type place. We see a statute of Molecule Man standing in the garden. Doom says Strange is his old friend and that Doom knows that something is bothering Strange. Strange says he remembers what was before Battleworld. That Strange remembers when the two of them created Battleworld by saved whatever they could and recreated the remainder. Strange also remembers that he could have become God and not Doom.
Doom replies that Strange did not want to become God. Strange replies that he still does not want to be God. That Doom is better suited for it. Strange says that he knows how precious the little they have left is and that he will protect it fiercely. Doom says that he has ultimate faith and trust in Strange to keep what needs to be secret hidden and to discover what needs uncovering and should be known. Suddenly, Strange gets an alert about the Cabal killing Old Thor.
We cut to the Kingdom of Utopolis, Strange and the Thor Corps investigation the Cabal’s ship. Young Thor tells Strange about what happened in Secret Wars #2 and how the Cabal came out and killed Old Thor. Beta Ray Bill says that he has found tracks to six or seven people. Strange tells the Thor Corps to fan out and search for the Cabal members and to bring them back alive. The Thors Corps fly off. Young Thor stays behind with Strange.
Young Thor says that this is a lot to take in during his first day. Strange says that at some point they all fall. Suddenly, Strange senses another person inside the Cabal’s vessel. Strange tells the person that everyone has gone and that they can come out of the vessel now. Strange says that the person had better not make Strange go inside after them. We then see Miles Morales walk out of the vessel. Miles said that the Cabal are bad guys and that he remembers his world ending before this world appeared. Strange looks stunned and says to Miles “Are you telling me…you remember?”
We hop over to Castle Doom where Doom and Sue Storm are standing on a balcony next to the Sentinel. Sue mentions ho much she misses her brother Johnny. Doom says that Johnny was guilty of treason and that Doom showed mercy by not sending Johnny to The Shield and, instead, letting Sue pick the punishment. That Sue picked using Johnny to serve as their sun for Battleworld.
Doom says that his world that he has created is perfect, but that he is not. That Doom is the one flawed aspect in everything. Doom says he is flawed and cannot even fix his own face. Sue disagrees. Sue removes Doom’s mask and says that he should show the people his true face so that they can see what she sees: A God with great love for his people.
We cut to the Hidden Isle of Agamotto which is Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. Strange says that it is surprising to find a refugee from the time before. Young Thor, Miles and Strange walk into a room where Strange is housing another one of the “rafts” that Reed built for the characters to try to escape the destruction of Earth-616. Strange asks Young Thor to open the raft. The door opens and we see Star-Lord, Carol Danvers and She Thor and Spider-Man standing there. They walk out. Carol barks at Strange and asks him what has been going on. Strange replies that he does not know if he and Carol are even from the same Earth and if they actually know each other.
Next comes Cyclops full of the Phoenix power. Then, lastly, out comes Black Panther with Reed Richards using him as support to walk. They are the only ones left alive. Black Panther asks if it really is Stephen and says “Memento Mori?” Strange replies “Illuminatus.” Black Panther is happy and thrilled to see Strange. We now know that all of these characters are from the 616 Universe.
Strange explains that it has been 8 years since the destruction of Earth 616. That everything died. That God then constructed a new world out of the remnants that were left over. Reed asks who is the God that Strange keeps talking about. Strange replies that Doom is God. That Doom saved them all. Black Panther asked how long ago Strange found their raft. Strange says 3 years ago. Reed yells at Strange and asks how Strange could have left them in the raft for so many years while letting Doom play God. Strange replies that it is easy to explain. That Doom is very good at playing God.
We zip back to the Kingdom of Utopolis where the Cabal are hiding out in a cave. Maximus comments on how this is a strange planet. That the sun rotates around the planet instead of the other way around. Thanos says that there is no need for worry. That the answers will find them. That he knows this. The Black Swan asks how does Thanos think that they will suddenly find these answers. Thanos replies “Because I am looking up.” We see the Thor Corps arriving outside of the cave. End of issue.
The Good: Secret Wars #3 was a beautifully written issue. Hickman weaves a textured story that mesmerizes the reader and captivates their attention from start to finish. The setting, the history, and the characters all combine to create a world so richly developed that the reader finds themselves easily getting lost in the story. The reader is transported from our world of the mundane to a world where seemingly anything and everything is possible. None of these are easy tasks for a writer, yet Hickman pulls it all off with impressive style and success.
I cannot get enough of Hickman’s richly developed world that he has created for this big event. This is an issue that warrants multiple reads. There is so much depth and substance for the reader to chew on. So much to soak in with each read of this issue. The attention to detail in this issue is amazing. Hickman is fleshing out this story with greater depth and intricate structure than most writers would ever attempt to do.
Hickman is part watchmaker and part writer with this big event. He is juggling an impressive number of characters as well as numerous plot lines ranging from small to large. Secret Wars #3 is impressively plotted. Hickman’s plotting skills are his strength and he continues to shine in that category. While Secret Wars #3 has absolutely no fighting at all do not confuse that with this issue being boring. Hickman delivers a story that is full of action in terms of plot progression. Hickman doles out a huge helping of new information in this issue.
Secret Wars #3 is the double stuff Oreo of comic books with all the plot details and progression that we got in this issue. There were numerous stunning revelations. You have Johnny being the artificial sun for Battleworld. Doom and Strange being leftovers from the 616 universe and crafting Battleworld together. The fact that this story takes place 8 years after the destruction of the Marvel Multiverse. And on top of all that, we get the addition of multiple characters from the two rafts that survived the destruction of the Multiverse.
Secret Wars #3 was excellently paced. Hickman delivers this story in his trademark controlled and steady pace. This is not a thin decompressed issue with little substance. There is a ton of information in this issue but the reader never feels overwhelmed or confused at all. Hickman serves the story at a pace and manner that makes is easy for the reader to process everything that is given to them.
There was also some quality character work in this issue. I particularly enjoyed the chemistry between Strange and Doom. The two characters played off so well with each other in the opening scene. The reader gets a great sense of all the heartache and tough times that Strange and Doom have been through together in the construction and preservation of Battleworld. Strange and Doom absolutely steal the show in Secret Wars #3. These two characters get the spotlight and they absolutely shine.
I love how Hickman writes Doom’s character. He nails Doom’s egotistic and power-hungry side that we normally see with Doom’s character. But, Hickman also gives us a much more introspective side to Doom. We see Doom’s self-doubt and his harsh criticism of himself during the scene with Sue. This makes Doom such a more well-rounded character. This also engenders sympathy for the reader. There is no doubt that Doom believes what he is doing is for the good of all the people who survived the destruction of the Multiverse.
Hickman also manages to show that the weight from the mantle of Godhood is a heavy burden even for a despotic tyrant who has always relished absolute power. It is intriguing to see Doom finally getting what he has always craved. The unlimited power. The unquestioned position as ruler over all humankind. Yet at this moment of fully realizing all of his power-hungry dreams how does Doom feel? He feels so unworthy of it all. Doom feels flawed. This scene between Doom and Sue was brilliant.
Hickman also does a fine job with Strange’s character. It is interesting to see how Strange would support Doom becoming God in this new world. The scene between Doom and Strange shows how everything that happened in the 616 Universe prior to the destruction of the Multiverse no longer matters. That with that event Strange and Doom were both “reborn.” It is also interesting to see that Strange supports Doom to the point that he waiting three years before opening Reed’s raft. The fact that Strange believes so deeply that Doom is the best thing for the remainder of humankind should provide for some fantastic conflict later in this story between our heroes from Reed’s raft and Strange.
Ribic’s artwork is nothing short of awesome. Secret Wars #3 is a sumptuous looking issue that brings Hickman’s world to life in breath-taking fashion. Ribic’s incredible eye for detail matches the meticulous detail in Hickman’s writing. The result is an issue that looks as rich and grand as the story itself.
The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue. However, action fans may be disappointed with Secret Wars #3. There is zero action at all in this issue. For fighting, action fans need to look to Battleworld: Secret Wars for some smash-em up entertainment.
Overall: Secret Wars #3 was a brilliant read. I simply cannot get enough of what Hickman is dishing out in this title. Secret Wars continues to be an intricately constructed story that is treating readers to a level of writing and storytelling that is simply superior to anything else currently on the market from DC and Marvel. If you enjoy stories that have lush settings, detailed plot lines and a truly epic feel then definitely check out Secret Wars. This is one big event that truly feels special. And that is a rarity for big events.