by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor
Issue #33 (Time Runs Out/ Secret Wars)
Written by Jonathan Hickman with Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin
Published: May 2015
I have steered clear of reviewing both this and Avengers for quite a while, and with good reason. The problem is they changed from being books about teams, into books that were fundamental to the Marvel Universe as a whole. The Marvel readers now break down into two groups, those who are happy to pick up the odd title here and there like Silk, Howard the Duck or Spider-Gwen and those that are reading THE Marvel universe. If you are the former, good luck to you, I am much the same with the DC universe where I dip into a little Wonder Woman or Injustice: Gods Amongst Us from time to time, but this whole ‘Convergence’ thing; count me out, I will pick up a few books once it is all over. Whether I can cope with the new status quo will determine whether I bother buying any more of their titles, but there was no way that I was going to fork out $5 a time to buy a whole bunch of Batman, Aqua Man and Blue Beetle that I really didn’t care one bit for.
Unlike other crossovers, such as AXIS, which claim to be ‘WORLD CHANGING’ what it really means is that for 6-10 issues they will mess around with everyone and in the end the odd person will be dead or altered, then everything drops back to normal. With Secret Wars and the cancellation of at least 80% of Marvels comics, that simply is not the case. For sure I expect afterwards that quite a few characters will carry on as if not a lot has happened, but for the most part, you are either reading Secret Wars, or you aren’t reading Marvel this summer.
For this reason, reviewing this and Avengers is a bit like trying to rate an instruction Manual. Sure, you can comment on its clarity,* but other than that, you are merely telling people if it did its job or not. Has this book been building up to Secret Wars- Yes – in which case it is doing its job. Whether I like where it has been going or not is completely irrelevant, because if I stop reading it, it wont stop all the other comics from being changed and me having no clue what happened.
Talking about not having a clue, how complicated is this book? We are into real metaphysical talk when you realise that Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange have basically been leading the two most powerful factions of inter-dimensional beings for the last 25 years. Ok, time clearly flows differently where they are because obviously they have not actually been here all that time, that would put it back before the Marvel Universe began** but they have been busy. And this is where it gets complicated. Doctor Doom has been killing every incarnation of the Molecule Man throughout the multiverse, but really they are all the same person and he killed himself as well just to show him how? I don’t know, but it all seemed a bit convoluted to me, but in the end he realised he needed some assistance and started to recruit Black Swans to help him out. It appears that the only requirement to be a Black Swan is to be white skinned and like to wear very little clothing, frankly I was expecting to see Lady Death hiding in the background, but there did at least appear to be a Deadpool Black Swan for good measure.
Then Doom throws a building block at the Beyonder and cracks open the multiverse and wiping out all but a small handful of alternate realities, just in time for Secret Wars to crash them all together. I will be honest, this all went over my head a bit, but I expect that understanding that much is all I need to know, if we break it down to its smallest denominator then we get – Its all Doctor Dooms Fault. And I can live with that.
The art in this book is spectacular, but none more so than the cover. My favourite covers are often done by Mark Brooks in his fully painted style, but this is a much more impressionistic one and it captures the essence of darkness around Doctor Doom so perfectly. It’s not one of those covers that can grab your interrest from across a busy comic store, but it is one that lends itself to close attention. Often covers are completely misleading as to their content (normally being Wolverines fault) but this one is so perfect for the book it needed to be mentioned.
Other than making me horribly lost, which frankly I blame on me, not the book; this is a wonderful issue. It is all important in the upcoming Secret Wars, although I expect issue 1 of that will do a good job of providing a recap, and for the first time in comic history I actually think of Doctor Doom as something other than a Megatron or Skeletor. Finally he is actually a genuine threat and not just to the Fantastic Four or New York, but too time, space and reality and after 20 years of reading comics, he isn’t a joke for me any more.
* And if it has been translated from Chinese well…
**Its called Marvel time, the last 50 years of comics publishing have only taken place in the last 13 years – blame Franklin Richards, everyone else does.