In Secret Wars #5, Stephen Strange gets a sendoff statue and Victor Von Doom verily vanquishes a variety of vulpine…guys. He also exposes important plot elements. OOOOOOOHHHH YOU JUST GOT CLICKBAIT’D
Secret Wars #5 is exposition heavy, but it at least clears up a lot. It turns out the Beyonders, who created the Multiverse, got bored with it and planned to blow it up. Old-timey villain Molecule Man was apparently created for just that reason: the Beyonders stuck a version of him in each universe as a self-destruct button. Doom discovered this, teamed up with Molecule Man, killed the Beyonders and stole their power. Once the Beyonders were gone, however, their power had to be stored (in what looks like a giant Ghostbusters trap) and reshaped. The task was beyond Stephen Strange’s abilities, so to Doom that task fell. And apparently he’s still what holds everything together. The obvious questions now are 1) how do you defeat Dr. Doom if the universe is contingent on his survival, and 2) can Marvel actually finish Secret Wars before Halloween. Or Thanksgiving.
So…fan fiction. Everyone dies, a megalomaniac reassigns roles and characters, then inserts himself as the hero and marries his favorite female lead. Secret Wars is Victor Von Doom’s giant, real-life fan fiction. Or a lengthy version of that scene in Spaceballs where Rick Moranis plays with his action figures. God (Doom) help us all.
But it’s like a fan fiction ON AN INTERNET FORUM, or in a round robing writing group. Because every other villain who escaped the original universe wants to rewrite the story him/herself, and this concerns Doom mightily. For instance, the issue ends with Thanos reaching the Shield (Battleworld’s own Game of Thrones Wall, but with girl-on-girl action) and Doom’s daughter Valeria asking why Dad/God is so scared if he’s, well, god. Other villains in side titles (see my Red Skull #2 review) also want to rule Battleworld.
Secret Wars may be part fan-fiction, but it’s also part medieval Chinese Civil Service Exam. You have to know ALL the Marvel Classics to be able to keep up. I think of myself as a fan, but this story points out just how many gaps there are in my knowledge. Each issue sends me scurrying for the Marvel wikia page, either to remind myself who someone is, or find out for the first time. It reflects a lot of knowledge on the part of Jonathan Hickman and the editors, but it also makes the story feel a bit like homework.
Worth the money? Not this one. There were moments in issue #4 compelling enough to warrant the purchase. The exposition’s so heavy in this one that there’s no room for any gripping encounters or dialogue. Skim it in the store if you want to be fully caught up on the necessary exposition.