If this comic book could be summed up in one word, it would be “middling”. Although some exposition is delivered within that is critical to the overall plot of the story, the pace with which it and previous chapters have come forth has been a touch too slow, at best. Despite what most comic book publishers will admit, very few stories are complex and deep enough to warrant more than six issues in length. Eight issues, after all, is two thirds as long as the well known classic, “Watchman”. And “Watchman” this is not.
In the previous issue, the virtually omnipotent Doctor Doom found out that his head sheriff Doctor Strange had hidden the fact that interlopers from the previous Marvel Universe (which had been destroyed, and which Doom replaced with “Battleworld”) had survived and arrived, seeking to undo his rule. They escaped, at the cost of two lives. In this issue, readers see more of Doctor Doom’s insecurity as well as gain more of an understanding in exactly how he was able to pull off saving and recreating all of reality. He, Strange, and the powerful D-list villain Molecule Man took on the Beyonders, who are literally the gods of creation, and managed a victory which allowed Doom to become and create what he has now. Unfortunately for him, the pressure of being god as well as his complex about Reed Richards are getting to the armored monarch, and the seeds of the end of Battleworld (both with the surviving heroes and with a gang of villains led by Thanos) have been sown.
At best, “Secret Wars” 2015 is similar to the classic 1984 version in being a tale about Doctor Doom. In both, Doom managed to usurp cosmic power, only this time around he’s kept it for a longer period of time and done some things which were legitimately good. Doom isn’t wrong when he claims that without him, all of creation would have ended. However, a tyrant is a tyrant and not even godhood can allow Victor to escape his own insecurities, namely revolving around Richards but also in seeking to hold together a planet full of bits of random, warring realities. Jonathan Hickman has a great imagination as well as seems to be at home writing lead characters who are detached geniuses, as he did for most of his “Fantastic Four” run (which may as well have been called, “Mister Fantastic and Friends”). The artwork by Esad Ribic and colors by Ive Svorcina is brilliant. And the added wrinkles do some service in adding some oomph to a villain in Molecule Man who has been kicking around since the 1960’s to little consequence before now.
At worst, however, “Secret Wars” 2015 is an overly long tale which gives Marvel Comics a lot of excuses to spin off dozens of side mini series without cutting to the chase in a timely fashion. There is a lot of creativity to the background and mythology of the story, but aside for Doom, no character is really rising to the fore beyond a random scene or line here or there. Mr. Sinister all but stole the first issue but has vanished into the ether since, for one example. The plucky heroes who survived the last incursion come and go and seem to be cameo players in their own epic, for another. Despite a lot of good moments, this issue isn’t the sum of its’ parts. Dubbing this issue “Secret Bores” wouldn’t be unearned.