Monday Morning Secret Wars 2: So Many Thors, So Little Time

Now that’s a crossover!

Secret Wars 2 kicks off our mega-blockbust event for reals. We’ve finally put down Time Runs Out and finally start the story proper. And now, we know who the real star of Secret Wars is:

Hickman design for the win.

Yup, it’s a Doom story. We still don’t know exactly what happened to Doom (and Dr. Strange, and the last remaining Molecule Man) at the end of New Avengers when his plan to use the Baxter Building as a missile against the Beyonders (and that was an awesome plan, let’s admit) failed. But we do know that Doom is in charge of the remnants of Earth-616 and the Ultimate Universe, which is now…BATTLEWORLD.

But first, we get Overly Vain Thor.

“Seriously, kid, stop looking at yourself in the mirror.”

“Can’t, Odin wannabe. My eyebrows are just too awesome.”

So Battleworld is run by a ton of Thors. The cover for Secret Wars promises that we’ll get Thors for every reality, including my favorite Thor…

PUDDLEGULP, THE FROG OF THUNDER! I am so proud of myself for remembering that the frog was named Puddlegulp from the Simonson Thor run. Seriously, when you get into your 40s, and you can still remember obscure comic book trivia like that, it just makes your day awesome.

So we get a shot of all the Thors…


Speaking of Thor, here’s the best Thor joke ever, from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman:

Meanwhile, we do find out that even if you died in the run-up to Secret Wars, you can still be alive in Secret Wars. For example, Hyperion bit the dust in New Avengers, but he’s alive ag wearing a domino mask. However, if you’re a transgender Moloid, you’re probably not allowed into the big crossover event:

Granted, I really can’t tell one Moloid from another (and admit it, neither can you), but there are four Moloids into the Future Foundation. We know that this sequence involves others from that team; we see Alex Power, Dragon Man, and Bentley-23. I’d be really surprised if these were supposed to be other Moloids, so these are probably Mik, Korr, and Turg, the Moloids who identify as male on the team. But Tong, who announced that she was female during Matt Fraction’s FF run, doesn’t seem to be around. Or she might be, but isn’t presenting herself as female in Battleworld (Doom doesn’t really strike me as being the most enlightened guy when it comes to gender politics). Or she might be off in the distance. Or something. It’s unfortunate.

NOTE: Hickman later tweeted me and confirmed these are not Mik, Korr, and Turg. Just other Moloids. Thanks, Jonathan!

OK, that drawing of Jamie Braddock might be more unfortunate. Seriously, my wife’s eyes bulged when I showed her this. No one at Marvel caught this?

Something I did catch:

Is it just me, or did Sue seem to show…tenderness…to Doom in this scene? Clearly, Sue is a trusted voice in Doom’s ear. But if she’s doing it, she can’t be doing it willingly. When Doom created Battleworld, did he make her forget about her love for Reed? And when Reed finally gets into Battleworld and confronts Doom, will she remember Reed…and his part in this whole mess? Remember, Reed is partially to blame for the end of the universes by his participation in the Illuminati. If Sue is repulsed by what Doom has done to her, and it’s Reed’s fault, could this truly spell the end of the Fantastic Four, and the Last Remaining Superhero Marriage in comics? This will be interesting to follow.

Glenn and I talked about Secret Wars on the upcoming episode of GAR! Podcast. He felt that the story felt like Game of Thrones. I’ve seen parts of Judge Dredd here, as did other sites. But I didn’t mind Hickman cribbing a bit here. The Battleworld of Secret Wars feels like a neat concept, big enough to house an all-encompassing summer event without feeling too claustrophobic. Next week, we get the first eight crossover books of Secret Wars, and I’m looking forward to finally seeing where we’re going.

Monday Morning Secret Wars 1: We Know So Much More Than We Understand

“Here we are folks
The dream we all dream of
Boy versus girl in the World Series of Love
Tell me, have U got the look?”

Apparently, there are no gifs from "U Got The Look" on the Internet. Best I could do on short notice, folks.
Apparently, there are no gifs from “U Got The Look” on the Internet. Best I could do on short notice, folks.

Why am I starting a Secret Wars review with a Prince lyric? Well, WHY NOT? It makes as much sense as anything else.

Secret Wars is here! The big clash between the Marvel-616 (that’s all the comics you’ve been reading forever) and the Ultimate Marvel Universe (don’t worry, you haven’t read them since Ultimatum, so the only thing you need to really know is Ulty Peter Parker is dead and replaced by Miles Morales, and Ultimate Reed Richards is EVIL AS ALL HELL). They’re gonna remake the whole thing, and you’re going to buy EVERY ISSUE (and I’m going to read every issue and write about it, even as I’m suffering from some awful back pain which has no relation to Thanos or the Molecule Man).

So when you kick off a first issue of something that changes everything, you should play by the rules, right? After all, I’m only going to believe that this is going to kick off the big changes if you’ve followed the rules that you set down, right?

Well, apparently, this isn’t a big thing at Marvel. For example. this opening quote from 616 Reed Richards:

“We know so much more than we understand. But we know so little.”

OK so far. That’s a good pondering Reed quote. I’m down with you so far.

“Many believe the white light you see when you die is the supercharged electric whimper of a desperate and dying brain. Synaptic death.

“But it’s not. That brilliant, blinding light is God…”

Wow. Reed Richards believes in God. OK, that makes sense–

This is from Fantastic Four  AU, from 2013. Written by Matt Fraction.
This is from Fantastic Four AU, from 2013. Written by Matt Fraction.

Now, you can argue this quote is kinda fake, because in various FF stories, Reed’s been to both Heaven and Hell. But there is a pretty big gap when Reed’s telling Valeria and Franklin one thing and then telling us all something else.

But to be fair, that’s a little gap of logic. It’s not like, say, Ultimate Nick Fury, the best there is at what he does (which is saving the world), would trust the fate of his Universe in Ultimate EVIL Reed Richards, right?

Oh. Um. OK.
Oh. Um. OK.

Out of curiosity, what did Ben Grimm think of this?

"Pal, get me a bromo. This is gonna be a long day at the office."
“Pal, get me a bromo. This is gonna be a long day at the office.”

By the way, am I allowed to assume that from the cover, Captain Marvel is going to have a big role in this series? Because she’s right in the center of the blast on issue 1:

Either that, or "I think I will take a nice nap. STRETCCCCCH!"
Either that, or “I think I will take a nice nap. STRETCCCCCH!”

Can you tell I did not like the cover of this issue? Let me say it out loud- this was not a good cover for your super-big summer crossover, Marvel. It’s dull with bad figure posturing. Let’s do better next time, shall we?

So Ultimate Samuel L. Jackson sends every flying helicarrier, the sky looks like dreaming out Star Blazers after too many anchovy pizzas, and the 616 heroes decide to get in the gang against the Ultimates-

Well, not really the Ultimates. See, if you read the Ultimates when Mark Millar was doing them, or even Jeph Loeb (hey, don’t throw up over here), you remember the Ultimates as Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Wasp, and Giant-Man, right? Yeah, well, we don’t have most of them any more. Thor is stuck in exile with 616-Galactus, Captain America was killed when he smashed a fighter jet into Galactus’s face (not a bad way to go), the Wasp was eaten by the Blob (now THAT was a bad way to go), and Giant-Man blew himself up saving New York. So, who do we get to fight for the Ultimate Universe in this story?

  • Ultimate Nick Fury (dumb as a box of rocks, don’t forget)
  • Ultimate Reed Richards (EVIL)
  • The CITY (written by Stevie Wonder)
  • Ultimate Iron Man (still drunk)
  • The Children of Tomorrow (was that also written by Stevie Wonder? It SOUNDS like it was written by Stevie Wonder, doesn’t it?)
  • Ultimate Jean Grey (yes, in a universe where all the good heroes died, JEAN GREY IS ALIVE)
  • Ultimate Cloak and Dagger (oh God, can’t stop laughing)
  • Kitty Pryde (who got dumped by Ultimate Peter Parker for either Ultimate Mary Jane or Gwen, mind you)
  • Ultimate Wolverine (who is not Logan, mind you, because Jeph Loeb killed him- this is the Son of Wolverine story you never wanted to see)
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (who shows up and climbs into the CITY, so that’s all for him this issue)
  • Ultimate Hawkeye (who’s probably the best of the lot, as he’s the one who says, “Trust Evil Reed? Have you lost your mind?” But who listens to Hawkeye…)

There’s also The Cabal! Granted, the Cabal is a group of Bad Asses- Thanos, Terrax, Namor, and a couple other world-beaters. But all they do is posture and talk to Ultimate Reed Richards, so yawn.

If you read between the lines, you can kinda tell that Hickman realizes that he has not been given the prime Ultimate characters to work with, but rather the hodge-podge mish-mash after a few too many crossovers and deaths.

This is code for "Yeah, I know, the Ultimate Comics line is due for a bullet to the head."
This is code for “Yeah, I know, the Ultimate Comics line is due for a bullet to the head.”

So, big fight scene, Punisher gets his wet dream of killing all the baddies, the Earths collide anyway, and then we’re given one more thing to believe that really can’t be believed:

This is a lot funnier when you imagine Reed saying this like Anakin in Episode 3.

Reed watches his family die.

His family: Ben, Johnny, Sue, Valeria, Franklin…

Wait, Valeria and Franklin? I’m calling a foul here, because when Hickman was writing the Fantastic Four, he had the future versions of Valeria and Franklin as cast members. So either they can’t be dead, or Secret Wars destroys all sorts of stuff, and we’re never seeing the FF again.]

Yeah, I’m not buying it. And there’s my problem- I’m going into Secret Wars #2 (coming out this week) not buying into the story that the writer’s telling me, and really not sure what the point of 616-vs-Ultimate was, since there wasn’t much left of the Ultimate U anyway.

But at least we got this:

See? Glenn WAS right.
See? Glenn WAS right.

There was one other Secret Wars book this week- the Secret Wars Prelude. It collects a bunch of back issues that in all honesty will make you more frustrated that you didn’t read every Marvel comic over the last four years. It’ll help, but only a bit.

See you next Monday for more Monday Morning Secret Wars!

Monday Morning Secret Wars Pre-Game 0: And So It Begins…


Secret Wars
And so it begins…

I love crossovers. Love them to death. Comic book crossovers are a perverse thrill to me. Sure, they can be overwritten, predictable, and painful. Sure, they can chase the most hard-core of comic book fan away from the nine-panel grid forever (Hi, Glenn!). And sure, in the end, they can be all marketing and no substance.

But at their best, comic book crossovers can be tons of fun for all the wrong reasons. The best crossovers can lead to new readers, break new ground, and offer epic stories that just can’t be done in a regular story. Plus, there’s all sorts of hidden treasures in the B-level books that publishers put out during an event. For example:

So awesome.
So awesome.
  • During Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four, Normal Osborn tries to take over the FF’s Baxter Building…only to be thwarted by Franklin Richards in cowboy gear with a popgun. (This was the kickoff to Jonathan Hickman’s long FF run. More on Hickman in a moment.)
  • Fear Itself provided one of the strangest moments that I can recall. To get Odin to help create weapons to save mankind, Tony Stark has to offer…his sobriety. Yep, Tony gets drunk with dwarves. and saves the day.
  • Name a story co-authored by legendary comic writers Alan Moore and Warren Ellis. Did you guess the mid-90’s crossover Fire From Heaven? Congratulations! (Admit it, you forgot about it.) The story led to one of Warren’s first breakout series, Stormwatch, which later became The Authority.

I love month-long epic crossovers. I read all 100+ issues of Fear Itself. And every  issue of Civil War. And Secret Invasion. And Age of Ultron. And Avengers vs. X-Men. And everything else you can consider. So by that logic, I should love Secret Wars.
I also love Jonathan Hickman’s work. I’ve been a fan of his since his first Image Series, The Nightly News. Over on the GAR! Podcast, I put his Death of Johnny Storm story in my five favorite FF stories (before I realized I forgot FF 200, which is actually my favorite). I thought most of his Avengers and New Avengers work was strong, even if it was a little obtuse at times. The Infinity crossover was stellar, with a fantastic Thor moment serving as the turning point in the story. When it was announced that Hickman was cueing up Secret Wars as the end story for his Avengers run, I was thrilled.

Jonathan Hickman. Big crossover, with lots of alternate Marvel realities. The end of the Ultimate universe and the promise of Miles Morales joining the mainstream Marvel U. The notion of an All-New! All-Different! (But Not A Reboot Like Those Other Guys!) universe sounded like fun. I was in.

Now? Not so much.

Blame the penultimate story in Hickman’s Avengers run, Time Runs Out. A crossover all on its own (ten issues of Avengers and eleven issues of New Avengers), the story starts with a promising notion- eight months into the future, everything Avengers-related is falling apart. Captain America and Iron Man are mad at each other. The Avengers are strewn across the universe. The old New Mutants guy, Sunspot, buys A.I.M. (!) Steve is old. Tony is damaged from another crossover (and drinking again in his own book). Thor’s lost his hammer and is no longer worthy of it. Just at the wrong moment, everything is falling apart.

Anyone got the extra-strength Geritol?
Anyone got the extra-strength Geritol?

Usually, this is the moment in comics when the good guys dig down and rally together to save the day. But not this time. Black Panther and Namor are in a blood war, their respective nations in a heated conflict that won’t end. Instead of one party taking the high road, the two act like villains, and Black Panther tries to kill Namor and abandon his body in another universe. If you’re saying, “Hey, that’s not the Black Panther I know!”, well…you’re right. It isn’t. There’s no heroism in T’Challa’s act. And it doesn’t get better.


That stain is never coming out. Blood and leather don't mix.
That stain is never coming out. Blood and leather don’t mix.

Namor, in response, decides to pal around in that other universe (the Ultimate universe, BTW!) with Thanos and Evil Reed Richards. Granted, Namor can walk the line between good and evil. But this isn’t straddling the fence. By joining Thanos’s Cabal, he thinks he can help stop the impending death of the Marvel Multiverse by joining up with a guy who’s in love with Death.

And it never gets better. Sue Richards tricks everyone into thinking she’s mad at Reed Richards- and everyone FALLS FOR IT. Really.


Seriously, I'm supposed to believe Sue's going to turn on Reed? Really?
Seriously, I’m supposed to believe Sue’s going to turn on Reed? Really?


Not that it helps. At the end of the story, we realize that the heroes have failed. A weird plan by the Beyonders to destroy everything succeeds. Every alternate world save for two- our Marvel U (or Earth-616) and the Ultimate Universe are headed for collision.

And in the most disgusting moment of the whole thing, Cap and Iron Man meet. Do they hash out their differences, shake hands, hug? Nope. FIGHT TO THE DEATH, made even worse by Cap putting on a hideous exo-skeleton that looks like a bad 90s idea…oh wait:


We’ve also been given a Secret Wars #0 comic (yes, zero, because that’s what they do on Free Comic Book Day. For the first issue, you’ve got to pony up). That issue recaps everything with unreliable narrator Val Richards, the incredibly smart daughter of Reed and Sue who’s still only three years old (hey, it’s the FF, it makes sense). The Freedom Foundation (all the kids who hang out with the Fantastic Four) help to build a ship to save the smartest people they can, all while trying to ignore the fact that One Direction probably won’t be invited to play on Nerd Island. It’s okay for what it is.

And that leaves us at the precipise of Secret Wars. As I type this, USA Today is running a story spoiling the first two issues (Marvel vs. Ultimate! Gravestones! Battleworld! Weirdworld!). And I’m left without a creative outlet to talk about this. My podcast buddy, Glenn, has decided that while he still will write about comics on certain occasions, he’s not enjoying talking about them on the GAR! podcast. He feels that Marvel and DC aren’t making comics for him anymore. And honestly, he might be right. I’m kind of hoping he never reads those Time Runs Out stories, because those stories are almost anti-Avengers stories. At a time when the box office version of the team rules Hollywood, Marvel editorial has decided to give us a comics team that couldn’t get along, couldn’t solve problems, and couldn’t get out of each other’s way. They bickered, they fought, they tried to kill each other, and this time, it wasn’t because they were alternate versions or brainwashed or written by Rob Liefeld. This time around, the Avengers didn’t act like Avengers because it’s May and we needed a big comics event, and this was the most expedient way to get there. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

Yet, I want to enjoy the event. I’m hoping that Hickman et al will find a way to tell a good tale, one that restores my faith and makes me fall in love with Marvel comics all over again, as has been done before. So this time, I’m going to dust off this old website (, read EVERY book that Marvel puts out related to Secret Wars over the next few months, and write a blog post about it the following Monday (ergo the name, Monday Morning Secret Wars). No Glenn, unless he comes back to comics. Just you and me, folks. Join me, won’t you?