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What Secret Wars Says About Marvel

Secret Wars is done. It’s over. Years and years of story culminated in nine issues of… war-ish drama. A lot went on, a lot of threads. There were parts that I definitely liked, ideas that I think were pulled off pretty well. Still, a big bulk of the story seemed tied down with needless, I don’t know… extras?

Why did it have to be a war? Why a secret war? How was this a secret war? It kinda took place everywhere in the multiverse at once, that’s about as far in the opposite direction of secret as possible. Why did it have to be presented as an epic tale instead of the focused examination of Doctor Doom it turned out to be? Why did there have to be a huge army-versus-army battle at the end? Why did Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and friggin’ Star Lord have a bigger hand in the goings on than the Doom vs. Mister Fantastic conflict?

This says a lot about current Marvel. It also says SPOILERS ARE ON THE WAY!

This never really happens, FYI

First, let me say this. Wouldn’t a lot of this be solved if it wasn’t a war? Wouldn’t a few issues be automatically solved if it didn’t have to be a Secret Wars title? I’m no longer allowed on Marvel’s premises and Jonathan Hickman refuses to answer my emails, but if I had to guess I’d say it wasn’t Hickman’s choice to have this be billed as a Secret Wars reboot. I think, with the influx of new readers, Marvel tried to capitalize on a once-successful event.

This is the same reason we’re getting a Civil War sequel, I suspect. A sequel where Iron Man and Captain Marvel — a trusted, merchandise-moving IP and a soon-to-be-a-movie-character that Disney needs in front of as many eyes as possible — fight. The event’s premise, a fight over stopping supervillains before they start with a precog superperson — is a cool idea. One that could accurately be explored in a smaller event, like Age of Ultron or Fear Itself. Instead, they’re needlessly dressing it up as another Civil War event. Doesn’t it feel like that they started with “we need another Civil War comic” and worked backwards? I wonder why?

Oh the MCU. I think Marvel has become a victim of its own success. The last two SUPER BIG EVENTS have been reboots of past success? That’s not right. They’re playing it safe, they’re playing to formula. It goes for the people with screen time in the past Secret Wars. It’s no coincidence they’re all MCU successes/soon-to-be MCU fixtures. Star Lord beats the Black Swan? By summoning a giant Groot. Really, guys.

I’m sure this won’t end satisfyingly!

What really gets me is the story we could have. There were a lot of really cool deconstructions of Doctor Doom. The fact that he has all of the power in the universe, but still can’t fix his face? That’s awesome! That says so much about the character. The way he replaced Reed, his residual anger at him existing despite the fact he’s god. There was a lot of things we could have gotten into if we didn’t have to make room for the Wars part of Secret Wars.

In the end, the wars part suffers as well. A lot of the battle-action goes on off screen. Entire plot points are explained to us instead of having us actually see it. The selling point of the first event from the 80s was that you saw heroes and villains that never meet fight each other. Captain America versus The Lizard! Magneto versus Iron Man! Doc Ock versus Storm! Absorbing Man versus Wolverine! Spider-Man versus Costume Designs! Pretty much none of that happens in this reboot.

What a dark portent to come. One could say this whole Secret Wars arc started with Hickman’s Fantastic Four, a run that injected some much needed life into a mostly-dead title. It pushed the universe into new directions. His Avengers run, despite its dialogue-heavy problems, was an extension of that. His Secret Wars felt that they took that and stuffed it into a safe little box. Now there are multiple Guardians of the Galaxy books, Iron Man is Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four are just gone, and we’ll probably have a million reboots of past events.

Am I wrong here? Is this just a little bump in the road? Was Secret Wars actually super consistent and I just missed it? Let me know in the comments below!

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