Secret Wars #4 Review

Written by: Jonathan Hickman

Art by: Esad Ribic

Publisher: Marvel

If the last few issues weren’t enough to convince you that Secret Wars was the best Marvel event in recent memory, the fact that we have now reached the halfway point and the wheels haven’t fallen off should be. While it may sound odd to be so in love with the event because “it doesn’t suck yet” there’s so much going on in Hickman’s endgame that other events simply don’t do that’s raising it to a whole nother level of quality.

So far the best feature of this event has been the slow unfolding of Battleworld and establishing the roles traditional chracters now have, especially God Doom, who’s been the break-out star. This has paid off as now that our heroes have arrived we can relate to their feeling of displacement and confusion. Furthermore, the slow build up has made the eventual conflict between Reed Richard and Doctor Doom something to be excited about. Doom has been such a stand-out character in this event that there is sometihng quite tragic about seeing everything he’s built threatened, even if he does take on the role of full blown villain this issue. It’s a testamaent to Hickman’s writing ability that I have myself doubting and questioning my feelings on Doctor Doom, regardless there are some really interesting conflicts brought forth in this issue which look like they’re going to be absolutely explosive in the final few issues.

Furthermore, usually by this point in a marvel event we have some “big twist” that’s been spoiled months in advance by promotional material that derails the pace of the event, however Hickman avoids this, and even mocks it, beautifully. Hickman has clearly had this event plotted and planned well in advance and has taken a very deliberate approach to revealing what this has all been building towards regardless of the usual editoral involvement of events. The best moment comes when Hickman seemingly indulges this trend, as a potential new threat arrives in the last few pages which made me groan and felt like a forced twist, only for Hickman to have Doom step up to the plate and shut down the threat in such a way that you remember why he’s such a powerful figure. It’s a great moment as it not only shows what other events do wrong, but also acts as another “oh my grodd doom is so awesome” moment that this event has in spades. There are several other shocking moments in the comic, but I won’t spoil anyway, I will say however they feel like organic progressions of the story rather than something Hickman was forced to do because it’s an event.

On the artistic front, many of the same compliments can be applied. Ribic has been absolutely killing this event so far and I’m glad Marvel have delayed the book and given him time to finish his art rather than hiring a fill in. It may be a little annoying to wait a bit longer, but when we look back at the series when it’s completed, having the level of artistic quality and consistency that it does will help the event age considerably better. The level of cinematic epicness and staging to the comic already make the wait worth it, there’s so much expectation behind the big meeting between characters in this issue, and while there isn’t much action, Ribic captures the tension to the scene beautifully. He’s on top of his game with this series and I’m so glad Marvel are finally given creators the time they need to finish books.

So in conclusion, while it may seem like Secret Wars is only good because it isn’t going wrong, there’s so much quality to this event that saying that would be a disservice. Secret Wars is acting as a new benchmark for modern Marvel events and shows that pacing, planning and character growth are far more effective at making epic events than standard “everything will change!!” marketing. It looks like we’re heading to a blockbuster conclusion, so I can’t wait to see how Hickman sticks the landing.