Secret Wars #5 Review

Written by: Johnathan Hickman

Art by: Esad Ribic

Publisher: Marvel

The newest issue of Secret Wars is one that’s hard to talk about. Every good thing I have to say about the issue I’ve said in previous reviews; Doom is the breakout star of the comic and under Hickman’s pen he becomes one of Marvel’s greatets characters. That just leaves me to talk about what I didn’t like about the issue, which may then make this sound overly negative. Let it be known then, that I did really enjoy this issue of Secret Wars, as I have enjoyed every issue, however it makes some odd pacing choices that left me scratching my head and, honestly, feeling disappointed.

The issue started off well enough, exploring the fallout of Strange’s death at the hand of Doom last issue. It leads to a very interesting conversation between Doom and his “daughter” Valeria in which she seems to be the only person so far who is able to go on the attack against Doom and make him seem vulnerable. It is a very interesting scene, showing the imposing nature of the charcater, but also the depth Hickman has given him, in that some ways he seems to regret the actions that he’s made regarding his possible friend. Whether this is due to any sort of loyalty or friendship or just because he feels Valeria may find out his secret is left purposely ambiguous.

After this however, the issue slows down to a crawl and mostly just focuses on an extended conversation between Doom and Owen Reece (The Molecule Man). There’s not really any new information gleamed from this conversation and it instead choses to focus on over-explaining why the incursions happened and how Battleworld was formed, the former of which was already explained fully in the final issue of New Avengers and the later being something that has been explained through previous dialogue in this series. It’s weird to me that Hickman, with only four issues left, would devote one to explaining something readers should already know, especially given how little Hickman usually holds your hand and makes readers think for themselves. The case could be made that people who have just been reading the Secret Wars event itself needed a clearer explanation, but really they’re given no reason to care about what they’re reading, and if they wanted to know more they could simply check out the previous run of books (which has already been established as required reading for this event). Even worse, most of the backrounds are just white space, so Ribic gets very little to draw of actual interest, I even thought Reece was Dr. Strange for a minute which was a little disorientating. There’s just not very much going on in this issue to excite.

I was looking forward to see Hickman continue the up to now perfect pacing and show more of the new arrivals in Battleworld struggle to cope with the situation they’re in, but Hickman seems oddly unfocused in this issue, as if he’s just killing time until the end. Very little was actually acomplished here to move the story forward, and given how we’re quite near the end that is a little worrying. Up until now, Secret Wars has been near perfect. I hope this slight misstep is just that, and not an indication that this series will stumble in the second half like most Marvel events.