Secret Wars #9 Review

Secret Wars #9 Review

Secret Wars #9 Review

Finally! The ending to Secret Wars is here. It took forever for Secret Wars #9 to hit the shelves. Yes, much of the drama and excitement of Secret Wars #9 has been ruined by the delays due to Esad Ribic’s dog eating his homework. And Marvel’s decision to roll out the new Marvel Universe prior to the creation of the new Marvel Universe with the pages of Secret Wars #9 has also robbed Secret Wars #9 of some of its excitement and impact. However, it will be nice to finally see how this new Marvel Universe was formed and how all the various pieces fit together. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Words: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Esad Ribic
Colors: Ive Svorcina

Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We being with Doom battling Namor and Black Panther. Panther is wearing an Infinity Gauntlet. Panther freezes Doom and Namor uses his trident to shatter Doom’s body. Doom then reforms himself and the brawl is on! Doom blasts Namor taking him out. Then Doom and Panther lock horns.

We cut to Sue Storm and Val with Reed Richards. Sue says that she remembers Reed from the holo-video. That Reed is part of the group of people who killed Sheriff Strange. Reed replies that it was Doom who killed Stephen Strange. Sue says “You mean God.” Reed replies “I mean Victor.” Reed says that he is here to end this charade. Sue asks who Reed really is. Reed responds that he is Reed Richards and that he is the one who fixes things.

Reed and Ultimate Universe Reed then enter the cave where the Molecule Man lives. Molecule Man asks Reed if he brought him something to eat. Reed apologizes that he did not bring anything for Molecule Man. Reed asks how Molecule Man is feeling. Molecule Man responds that he is starving. Reed says that an infinite number of missing mouths not being fed will make a person hungry. Reed says that they are here to help Molecule Man.

Ultimate Reed then creates a sphere surrounding himself and Reed. Ultimate Reed says that this sphere is creating a temporal bubble. That in this closed temporal environment that they can holistically visit the past. We see Reed transforming into a prehistoric man. Ultimate Reed says that Reed’s weakness with his wife a moment ago made him sick. Ultimate Reed asks if the endgame really is nothing more than weepy nostalgia for something that never was.

Ultimate Reed asks “Who is interested in a weepy god?” Molecule Man replies “Me.” Molecule Man then says that one can actually holistically enjoy pizza and that it comes in slices. Molecule Man transforms Ultimate Reed’s body into slices and consumes him.

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Reed then transforms back into his normal self. Molecule Man tells Reed that he better get it together because “he” is coming.

We cut to Doom kicking Black Panther’s ass. Panther starts smiling. Doom asks why Panther is smiling after getting his ass beat. Doom then realizes that all of this was just a distraction. Doom then teleports away from the scene. We then see Doom appearing outside of Molecule Man’s hidden cave. Sue asks Doom if what Reed said was true. Doom says that Sue has to trust him. Sue replies “Like how Stephen trusted you?” (Damn. Burn.)

Doom remains silent and then enter’s the cave. Doom is in a full rage and he calls out Reed. Reed says that he is here to convince Molecule Man that maybe Reed has a better solution than Doom’s solution. Doom says that he saved millions. That Molecule Man saved millions. That Reed only saved himself. That Reed could not even save his own family. Reed yells “How dare you?!” Doom replies that he has been dared to choose between living and dying for millions. Doom says that now he chose for Reed. Doom snaps his fingers. But, nothing happens. Doom is shocked. Molecule Man asks if Doom brought him anything to eat. Doom says “No.” Molecule Man replies “Then that makes the two of you equal, doesn’t it?”

Now that Molecule Man has stripped Doom of his godlike omnipotence we are set for a good old-fashioned brawl. Reed attacks Doom and the two proceed to beat the crap out of each other. Doom says that Omnipotence did not make any of his decisions easy. Doom says that he has always had power and it has never been easy for him. Reed says that Doom made himself a god and then replaced Reed. Doom says that the first thing he offered was salvation. Reed yells “You stole my family!”

Doom says that Reed’s family chose Doom. Doom asks why Reed cannot admit that Doom has done good things. Reed says that he accepts that Doom has done some good things. But, that Doom could have done more. That Doom is so afraid of losing the things that he saved that he holds them too tightly. Reed says that a tree is just a seed in its realized state. Doom replies that this is Reed’s mistake. That Reed abandons the good because he desires the perfect.

Doom says that it has always been the same between the two of them. That Reed thinks that he is better than Doom. Reed says that Doom is wrong about that. Reed says that he always thought that Doom could be better than what he was. Doom says that he means right now. In this moment. That if Reed had gotten all the power that Reed thinks he could have done so much better than Doom. Reed replies “Yes. And we both know it, don’t we?” Doom replies “Yes, damn you. Now die!”

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Doom is about to deliver the killing blow to Reed when Molecule Man interrupts and says “Okay, then. If you both agree…” Suddenly, Battleworld explodes. We see Panther pulling the yellow Infinity Gem (The Time Gem) off of the Gauntlet. Panther holds the Time Gem in his hand. We see everything disappears into a blinding white light.

The white fades away and we see Panther in Wakanda. We see Kimo, T’Dori and T’Konda all standing around a map of their solar system. One of them mentions that the map of the solar system has 12 planets so it is not their solar system. Panther then approached them and says that the solar system they are looking at is the one they are headed for. Panther says that the Makers are the finest of their generation.

Panther points to one of the planets and says that it is an M-class planet circling an orange dwarf star that is light years away. Panther says that the West has abandoned space. That the East crawls when it can run. As a result, Wakanda now possesses the preeminent space program in the world. That they must go farther into the stars than ever before.

We then see a massive rocket blasting off from Wakanda. Panther says that some people see the future sooner than others and must pave the way. Panther say that this is where it begins. That the rocket is for Earth Command to support local system travel. Panther says that they will drag mankind to the stars on the back of Wakandan science. That this is their first step. This is their Alpha Flight.

We cut “8 months later. The Marvel Universe. The Prime Earth.” We zip to New York City where Miles Morales is standing on a rooftop. We cut to the blinding white and see Molecule Man thanking Miles for the burger that Miles gave him. Molecule Man says “I owe you one.” We shift back to Miles on a rooftop. Spider-Man (Peter Parker) appears and asks Miles what he told his mom that he would be doing. Miles replies that he told he he was going to study with a friend. Spider-Man asks Miles if he is ready to go beat up some bad guys. Miles says “Oh Hell yes.”  The two then swing off.

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We shift to Reed, Sue, Val, Franklin and the rest of the Future Foundation along with Molecule Man standing in what appears to be the Multiverse. Val explains how Molecule Man is the key. That he is a human repository of unlimited power. That Molecule Man’s omnipotent power must be used and directed by an individual. In this case it is Reed. Franklin is a universal shaper. A dreamer. That Franklin has ideas for entire universes. Franklin gives these universes to Reed. Reed then uses Molecule Man’s power to spin these universes off into their own realities. Then they slice off once of Molecule Man’s multiple selves that were all merged together when the Multiverse was destroyed prior to the beginning of Secret Wars. An individual Molecule Man is then sent into the newly created universe to serve as an anchor. Also, by getting rid of all the multiple Molecule Men merged inside of the 616 Molecule Man they are able to make Molecule Man better and whole once again thereby healing him.

Val says that this is just the beginning. That they need to explore and catalogue all of these new multiple universes. Sue replies that they are like Lewis and Clark except for all of existence. Val says “Well, sure mom. If Lewis and Clark were also creating the land they were exploring.”

Sue then puts her arm around Reed and the two stare at the newly reborn Multiverse. Franklin asks Reed if this means that they are not super heroes anymore. Reed says that all that matters is that they do good not necessarily how they do it. That right now what they are doing might be the most important work they have ever done. And they get to do it together as a family. Reed says that for now they won’t be super heroes. That it will just be science. No more Mister Fantastic. Just Dad. Reed asks “That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?” Franklin replies “Nope. Gonna play now.” (I love this scene. Love it.)

Sue hugs Reed and says for not being a super hero Reed sure delivered a pretty amazing final act. Reed replies “Still, Johnny and Ben.” Sue said that they could not be with them. That they should not be with them. That their act isn’t anywhere even close to be finished.” Sue says that what Reed as done is enough. Sue says “The life raft broke and I thought we were done…and you saved us.”

Reed shrugs and replied that he had some help. We cut to the Molecule Man in the blinding white once again. We then shift to Doom’s castle. Reed narrates that the help he received bought him enough time to fix so many things that he had been wrong about. Reed says that he learned that the difference between living and dying is managing fear. About not being so afraid to lose the things you love that you end up holding them too tightly.

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We see Doom staring at his mask. Reed narrated “I used to believe in universal contraction. Entropy and the end of all things. Well, I’ve change my mind. I’m letting go. Because now I believe in expansion. I believe we endure. Don’t you see? Everything lives.”

We pan back and see Doom’s face. Doom’s face is no longer disfigured. Doom laughs. End of story.

The Good: Secret Wars #9 was another beautifully written issue. This issue is Hickman’s final chapter of his magnum opus that he began with Fantastic Four #570 back in August of 2009. And that is what makes Secret Wars #9 such a satisfying read. Secret Wars is the culmination of a story that Hickman has been writing for 6 and 1/2 years. In the end, it was all about Marvel’s First Family. As it should be, one of the grandest tales of Marvel Mythology centered on Jack Kirby’s greatest creation: The Fantastic Four.

Kirby created so much of the Marvel Universe, but it was the Fantastic Four and the characters associated with the Fantastic Four franchise like the Inhumans and the Black Panther as well as so many core important alien races, alien technology and ancient artifacts that play an important role in Marvel mythology. The Fantastic Four is steeped in Kirby based Marvel mythology like no other title in the Marvel Universe.

Hickman is a writer who clearly worships at the Altar of Kirby. Hickman is one of the few writers who has come behind Kirby and played with the same themes and did so in a fashion on par with what Kirby did during his time at Marvel. I have always viewed Hickman’s work from Fantastic Four #570 on through his work on the Future Foundation, the Avengers, New Avengers and culminating with Secret Wars as a love story to Kirby and his original concept for the Marvel Universe.

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Reed has been at the center of Hickman’s story since Fantastic Four #570. There is beauty in how Hickman brings everything full circle and has Reed experience true character growth as a man and as a hero. In the scene with Sue and Val just prior to entering the cave to meet with the Molecule Man, Hickman has Reed face his worst fear: The loss of his family. Reed has to see Sue face-to-face and how she has no idea who he is. At this point, Reed introduces himself as Reed Richards and that he is the one “who fixes things.” This picks up on a theme that Hickman rolled out on his very first issue of Fantastic Four where Reed begins traveling through the Multiverse and working with the Council of Reeds in order to “fix” things.

In the very beginning of his run on Fantastic Four, Hickman used Reed’s desire to protect his family as his impetus for everything that he does during Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four. Hickman made Reed absolutely obsessed with fixing everything. Hickman has had Reed traverse morally ambiguous areas in his quest to fix things and to protect his family. This scene is the moment where Reed realizes that all of his extreme efforts to “fix” things and his morally ambiguous work as part of the Illuminati have led to this moment. A moment where he is erased from reality and his own family no longer knows him. This is the moment where Hickman stops deconstructing Reed and begins to grow his character into something new.

This was also the moment in the story where Molecule Man became the literary device for Hickman to employ multiple times in order to deliver the conclusion to this story. And, yes, this is the moment where critics can point to Hickman using an omnipotent character to “magically” finish his story and deliver a happy ending. But, that would require ignoring the excellent character growth with Reed and the strong internal logic of the story. The use of Molecule Man is not an unsatisfying or uncreative deus ex machina. Instead, it is a logical ending that plays on themes and concepts that Hickman has been giving the reader since the beginning of the story. It also allows Reed to grow as a character.

After this emotionally touching scene, Hickman turns to Molecule Man as a pivotal tool in the conclusion of this story. The concept that the Molecule Man is constantly hungry has been played with since the first issue of Secret Wars. And it makes sense as Molecule Man has consumed so many of the alternate versions of himself from across the Multiverse. Reed’s line that it must be difficult to feed an infinite number of missing mouths was perfect. It effectively go across how merging so many alternate versions of the Molecule Man into the 616 Molecule Man has led to his mental instability.

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Hickman then has Molecule Man save Reed from Ultimate Reed. Molecule Man does this because of Reed’s compassion and love for his family. While Doom has been an angry and ruthless god it becomes clear that Reed would be a more compassionate and loving god. Or, as Ultimate Reed puts it, a weepy god. Having Molecule Man step in and say that he would like a weepy god shows the cracks in Doom’s solution. This is the moment where Molecule Man finally realizes that there may be a better option before him than Doom and Doom’s solution. Molecule Man does not insert himself into the conflict between Reed and Ultimate Reed simply for no reason or because it is convenient for the writer. No, Molecule Man rescues Reed because, for the first time, Molecule Man sees that, finally, there may be a possible option to Doom’s solution.

Of course, this leads to the climactic scene of Secret Wars #9 when we finally see Reed and Doom battle each other. This is a brilliantly written scene. Not only did it have quality action, but it boiled over with emotional intensity and also delivered some excellent internal logic. This showdown begins with Molecule Man stripping Doom of his omnipotent power. This is the second step in Molecule Man’s growth. At this point, Molecule Man asks Doom if he brought him something to eat. Of course, like Reed, Doom had not brought anything for Molecule Man to eat. This is the moment where Molecule Man is willing to entertain the possibility that Reed presents a better solution than Doom. And that the only way to see which man presents the better solution is for the two of them to engage in a fair fight.

The battle between Reed and Doom was powerful. Hickman delivered a brawl that is soaked with emotion. Doom’s rage is palpable. Reed’s anger and, oddly enough, his compassion toward Doom both leap off the page. This is such a riveting scene that tightly grips the reader from start to finish. This was as emotionally satisfying climactic scene that a reader could possibly hope to receive.

The Molecule Man then intervenes for a third time to save Reed from being killed by Doom. This is brought about by Doom finally agreeing with Reed if Reed had been given the Molecule Man’s power then Reed would have done a better job solving everything than what Doom did. The moment that both men agree that Reed would do a better job than Doom with Molecule Man’s power is the climatic moment where Molecule Man decides to give his power to Reed. This brings about the destruction of Battleworld and the birth of the new Marvel Multiverse.

It is the internal logic and the statements by Reed and Doom that put Molecule Man into action. Again, this is not the case of a writer lazily inserting a deus ex machina into place to automatically reset everything and give the writer an out to the corner they have written themselves into. Molecule Man acts in a clear response to the character growth between both Doom and Reed. It is the internal logic of the story that dictates the Molecule Man’s action. Reed admits his belief that Doom could have been a greater man than Reed himself. That is a hell of a thing for Reed to every admit to given his supreme ego and confidence that Hickman have given the character. Then Hickman has Doom, finally, acquiesce and admit that Reed would have done a better job than Doom when wielding Molecule Man’s power. That Reed would have had a better solution.

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These are two huge moments for both characters. The fact that these two character growth moments are the impetus for the Molecule Man’s act to destroy Battleworld and grant Reed his power so that a new Multiverse may be created flowed organically from the story and never felt like a cheat. This was a logical and satisfying climactic scene where the main protagonist and antagonist both attain clarity concerning the matter at hand. And it is their dual moments of clarity that place into motion the power of the Molecule Man to lead the reader to a satisfying and interesting denouement to this story.

The final 14 pages to Secret Wars #9 answer several questions concerning the new Marvel Universe. These pages also make it clear as to the four corporate goals of Secret Wars. It appears that the first corporate goal of Secret Wars was to remove the Fantastic Four from the Marvel Universe. It has been suspected that Disney’s long running feud with Fox that existed far before Disney purchased Marvel is the reasoning behind this decision. Evidently, Disney does not feel the need to promote a property that benefits Fox. This is certainly consistent with Disney’s past which show that they prefer to promote franchises where they own everything from movie rights to merchandising rights.

The second corporate goal of Secret Wars appears to be to elevate Black Panther in the Marvel mythology. This move appears to have dual purposes. The first is that the main objective of the New Marvel Universe is to increase diversity so making Black Panther an even more important figure in the new Marvel Universe would further that objective. The second purpose is to create “synergy” by promoting Black Panther more in the comic books since he will be appearing in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie and is also slated to have his own movie. Just like we saw with Ant-Man, having a movie means that you get a higher profile in the comic book universe, too.

The third corporate goal of Secret Wars was to finally trash the long failing Ultimate Universe line of comic books. These titles have been poor sellers for a long time. Even the best-selling Ultimate Universe title, Miles Morales, was a weak seller usually relegated down in the low 30,ooo unit range per month. The recent merging of the 616 Universe and the Marvel Movie universe has largely obviated the original purpose of having the Ultimate Universe line of comics around in the first place. Since the Ultimate Universe comics have not really had any purpose at all for quite a while and have sold poorly it makes sense that Disney would want to just kill of this line of comic books all together.

The fourth and final corporate goal of Secret Wars was to make the New Marvel Universe more in line with the Marvel Movie Universe. Whether comic book readers like it or not, the fact remains that far more people know the Marvel Movie Universe than the Marvel Comic Universe. So, I understand why Disney would want to make the Marvel Comic Universe more like the Movie Universe which is far more known and popular with the general public.

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Now, let us take a look at the changes that have been brought about by Secret Wars from a creative and continuity standpoint rather than from a corporate standpoint. Hickman delivers an ending that has Franklin using his powers as a shaper and a dreamer to come up with all these different universes. Then Reed uses Molecule Man’s powers to bring these various universes to existence. And then Molecule Man releases the multiple versions of himself that he absorbed prior to Secret Wars so that each new universe has its own Molecule Man to serve as an anchor for the universe.

This is blueprint for the construction of the new Marvel Multiverse is simply brilliant. I love how Hickman takes Franklin, Reed and Molecule Man and uses each one as an important ingredient in the recipe for the creation of the new Marvel Multiverse. And this recipe is so logical and the three characters click together perfectly. This is an intelligent ending that makes sense and is logical and utilizes these characters in a smart fashion. Hickman did an excellent job of clearly explaining the foundation for this new Marvel Multiverse and doing so in an intelligent and logical fashion.

We already learned in the pages of the new Ultimates comic that the current Prime Universe is the 8th iteration of the Marvel Universe. This is consistent with what Hickman delivered at the end of Secret Wars #9 with Franklin, Reed and Molecule Man creating a reborn Marvel Multiverse. This is based on the Cyclical model of the universe in which the universe follows indefinite or infinite self-sustaining cycles. Einstein’s theory of an oscillating universe that follows an eternal series of oscillations each beginning with a Big Bang and ending with a Big Crunch. The universe would expand before the gravitational attraction of matter would case the universe to contract and then bounce back and expanded once again forever repeating itself. The most recent cyclic model is the is the Baum-Frampton model. A cyclical model for the universe is also the theory that Jack Kirby used to explain the birth and eventual end and rebirth of the Marvel Universe.

Needless to say, this direction that Hickman takes with the rebirth of the new 8th Marvel Multiverse has internal logic and is consistent with the vision of Jack Kirby who was the original architect of the Marvel Universe. And that is important. Marvel should always, in its most basic essence, remain true to the vision of its father. Hickman also employs enough real science theory to his foundation for the creation of the new Marvel Multiverse. Hickman also places his own unique personal twist on the creation of the new Marvel Multiverse with the use of Franklin, Reed and Molecule Man serving as the architect, builder and power source for the new Marvel Multiverse.

Now, it appears that the ending of Secret Wars #9 has obviated most of what Hickman wrote post Infinity. I would appear that the Incursion no longer took place and that Time Runs Out no longer took place. Both appear to be retconned out of the Marvel Universe. We will have to wait and see if any other changes have been made as well learn more about the new Marvel Universe going forward.

It is also made clear that while the Marvel Multiverse is back and is expanding as quickly as Franklin, Reed and Molecule Man can create them that Earth 616 is no more. We do not even know if Franklin, Reed and Molecule Man have been able to create 616 universes in the eight months between the destruction of Battleworld and the present day in the New Marvel Universe. Therefore, Hickman renames Earth-616 as Prime Earth and renames the 616 Universe as the Prime Universe.

On a tangential note, this is interesting that the Earth 616 is now Prime Earth. Earth-Prime in the old Marvel Multiverse was Earth-1218 which was our real Earth where the readers lived and Marvel Comics published super hero comics. Sometimes comic characters would meet their “gods” Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. So, I guess Hickman just retconned all of us out of existence!

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At any rate, Prime Earth appears to be Earth-616 with a new wrinkles and additions such as Weirdworld, which used to be a separate reality from the 616 Universe, and a few cast-offs from the Ultimate Universe in the Maker (Ultimate Reed) and Miles Morales. At this point, we have not received any definitive answer to the question if any other characters from the Ultimate Universe made it over to Prime Earth. My guess is that the Maker and Miles Morales are the only two survivors. The logic being that they were the only two Ultimate Universe characters that survived and made it to Battleworld. Therefore, the Maker and Miles were the only two Ultimate Universe characters that were in existence at the time that Reed created Prime Earth.

Of course, we learn that Miles’ family were reincarnated as a thank you from Molecule Man for the burger that Miles gave Molecule Man during Secret Wars. That was a cute touch and a good enough explanation for Miles’ family being brought back to life. Of course, the question remains why Molecule Man would allow the Maker to be brought back to life in Prime Earth after Molecule Man consumed the Maker in Secret Wars #9.

At any rate, Hickman gave a good enough reason for Miles and his family to be in Prime Earth. And I am inclined to believe that Miles and the Maker are going to be the only survivors of the Ultimate Universe. But, you never know what Marvel may roll out in the future.

There is also the question of how much do the characters in the Prime Universe remember of the events of Secret Wars. It appears in the few issues of the New Avengers where we have seen the Maker that he does not fully remember the Ultimate Universe or the events of Secret Wars. We do not know about Miles since his solo title is not set to be published until February. I suspect we will get a few more answers to our questions about how much people remember of the Ultimate Universe or of Secret Wars at that point.

Now, let us take a moment to examine Secret Wars #9 from a literary standpoint and evaluate Hickman’s technical skills as a writer. Secret Wars #9 is a technically well written issue. This is a perfectly plotted and paced issue. Hickman seamless blends action and dialogue heavy scene together to create a wonderfully balanced read. Secret Wars #9 has it all: Drama, action, adventure, character growth and world building. There is not much more I could have asked from Hickman for this final issue of Secret Wars.

Hickman also delivers some fantastic character work and dialogue. Secret Wars #9 is such a complex and nuanced issue that moves the reader’s heart and mind. The most fascinating character work is centered on Reed Richards and Victor von Doom. Let’s take a look at Doom first. Hickman has done a masterful job presenting Doom as a complex character that is far more than a one-dimensional evil villain. Over the course of Secret Wars, Hickman managed to present Doom as a clear villain but successfully justify Doom’s decisions and actions so that Doom clearly believes that he is a hero and makes the reader take the time to exam both sides of the argument when it comes to Doom’s solution to the end of the Multiverse.

The climactic moment of Secret Wars #9 was when Doom finally admits that Reed would have done a better job dealing with the end of the Multiverse and coming up with a solution utilizing Molecule Man’s powers. This was stunning. Doom, of all people, ever admitting to not being the best? To admitting that Reed would be better? Shocking. Yet, it made sense and worked perfectly with the story. This makes the final two pages of Secret Wars #9 even more powerful. During the battle between Reed and Doom, it is clear that Reed has compassion for Doom and honestly believes that Doom has the potential to be an even greater man than Reed.

As a result, when utilizing Molecule Man’s powers to create Prime Earth, Reed gives Doom his face back. Gone are the hideous scars. The result is that Doom can now finally embrace life and become a good man. That Doom can now become a positive force for the world. That Doom can become an even greater positive force for the world than Reed ever could have been.We have already seen Doom over in Invincible Iron Man where he has stated that he has no intention of taking  back Latveria. We have seen Doom say that he now knows that he is meant for more. And we have seen Doom act like a hero over in Invincible Iron Man. This is some excellent character growth for Doom’s character that develops in an organic fashion from the ending to Secret Wars #9. Therefore, in the new Marvel Prime Universe, Doom takes Reed’s place.

Of course, this leaves a power vacuum on the side of evil. Ah, but Hickman has the perfect replacement for Doom. That would be The Maker. Ultimate Reed now stands to assume the place as the top villain of the Marvel Universe that was once occupied by Dr. Doom. And the Maker is a natural replacement to be the new “Doom” styled villain for Prime Earth.

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Despite all of this great character work with Doom, the fact remains that Reed Richards has been the main character for Hickman’s grand nearly seven-year long story. It is Reed who receives the greatest amount of growth. Everything started with Reed. Three years ago, in New Avengers #1, Hickman kicked off his run on the title with the opening line “Everything dies.” It is Reed Richards who utters this fateful line. It was Reed’s belief that there is nothing that anyone can do to stop the inevitable death of everything that serves as the genesis for the Illuminati deciding that them ruling the world would be the best way to protect the Earth from being destroyed.

Reed’s line “Everything dies” sets the tone for the spiritual journey that Hickman would take Reed on that culminated in Secret Wars #9. Reed begins to hold tightly to his role as a “fixer” and his desire to protect his family with Fantastic Four #570, Hickman’s first issue on that title. This naturally evolves into Reed’s statement that “Everything dies.” in New Avengers #1 that began the epic tale that ended with Secret Wars #9.

The final two pages of Reed’s narration drives home the spiritual growth that Reed has gone through and presents the reader with a poetic ending that serves as a fitting ending to this tale. Hickman has Reed state that the events of Secret Wars has made him realize that the difference between living and dying is managing fear. About not being so afraid of losing the things that you love that you end up holding them too tight.

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This is exactly what Reed was doing when he joined the Council of Reeds during Hickman’s Fantastic Four run. It is the fear of losing what he loves that motivates him to fix everything that he can. Later, in New Avengers #1, it is Reed’s fear of death. Fear of their Earth ending that motivates him to grab as tightly as he can to his family and to the Earth. It is this fear that serves as the genesis for the Illuminati engaging in morally ambiguous decisions to try to keep ahold of their Earth as strongly as possible.

Hickman then ends Secret Wars #9 with Reed narrating that Reed is letting go of universal contraction, entropy and the end of everything. That Reed now believes in expansion. Hickman then ends Secret Wars #9 with Reed saying “Everything lives.” And there it is. The perfect bookend to the line “Everything dies” that kicked off this epic tale three years ago. This was beautiful writing on every level. Hickman use of story themes to frame this massive tale was impressive. The way that Hickman took our main hero, Reed, on such a spiritual journey where Reed clearly comes out on the other end a completely changed man is also fantastic writing. This is a powerful and poetic ending that satisfying puts a bow on this nearly seven-year journey.

Esad Ribic provided plenty of his usual gorgeous artwork. Ribic’s style of art is the perfect match to Hickman’s grand and epic tale. Ribic’s artwork has enough gravitas and drama to it that makes Hickman’s story even more emotional and powerful.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Secret Wars #9 was a beautifully written issue that serves as a satisfying ending to what was a truly remarkable nearly 7 year story. I am sad to see Hickman leaving Marvel, but what a wonderful way for Hickman to leave. If you skipped on Secret Wars #9 then you should absolutely go and purchase this story when it comes out in trade format. Secret Wars is simply writing that is on a much higher level than what you get on 90% of the super hero comic books that are currently on the stands.