Secret Wars: Character Arks

Spoilers ahead... I'm not kidding...

The plot thickens with Secret Wars issue 3 as we confirm two very important things. 1) There are definitely people who remember the original universe/time lines, including Doom himself and Dr. Strange. They were together in issue 1, after all, standing outside the multiverse, ready to refashion it. Strange could have been "God" to Battleworld, but didn't want the position. In his opinion, Doom's done a rather good job of it, and though his law is harsh, it is just. There's a reason he's wearing all white, and there are hints that despite his megalomania, he's "lightened up" in the 8 years Battleworld has existed (obviously, it has retroactively existed since well before that). The land itself has gained a sun (see my top moments, below) and Doom isn't sure he recognizes himself anymore.

2) In addition to the villainous ark of multiversal survivors led by Thanos, Strange opens the heroes' ark here, and THEY all remember the Multiverse as it was. For one thing, that means the 616/Ultimate Manhattan featured in Ultimate End ISN'T inhabited by the original characters as we know them, or not exactly. The heroes in the ark ARE the real deal, and suddenly we have conflict and a vested interest in the main storyline, where before, the stakes weren't very high because all the characters were reconfigured alternate versions of those we know. In other words, they can die and it won't mean anything. That can live, and strive and change, but those character arcs won't amount to anything really, because Battleworld will eventually be undone and so will their existence. With "real" 616 and Ultimate characters in the mix, we have a continuous line being drawn, and outsiders who can both affect Battleworld, and change there.

Perhaps that's why Strange isn't too bothered by Doom's leadership - even if he does catalog and reference the events of the tie-in mini-series, nice bit, that - he knows Battleworld is only meant as a way to "save" the universe, hopefully so that a real universe can be born from its components. Lives lost on Battleworld won't necessarily translate as losses in the reborn universe, and you'll note he takes a particular interest in the Phoenix Force here, currently inhabiting Cyclops. Could it have the resurrectional power to spark the new MU into existence?
As for the tie-ins, an awful lot of X-books this week, which isn't a corner of the MU I know very well anymore, so my interest lags there. The configurations seem a little samey. In Inferno (last month), X-Men fought demons. X-tinction Agenda shows the mutant-only X-Topia struggling with a plague. In Years of Future Past, Sentinel have done away with, or incarcerated, most mutants. Different spins, but lots of the same X-Men. In addition, there's a Giant-Size Little Marvel - AvX book that also stars the X-Men, but I don't know if there's actually a spot on the map for this, or if it's just meant to be taken as parody. The other thing that keeps repeating is New York. I think it's okay to have several versions of NYC on the map, but in many cases, you just can't tell WHICH domain they're supposed to belong to. Some books tell you, some don't. I guess I wish they all did.

So clear winners this week: Master of Kung Fu #2, I love the Shaw Bros. take on the Marvel Universe, and it looks gorgeous; Future Imperfect, where Maestro rules, has some nice twists; the AvX book is loads of fun; Years of Future Past triumphs by telling the story through Kitty Pryde's daughter; and Renew Your Vows plays the Convergence card by giving us a Spider-Man from before his marriage was undone (in fact, before Spider-Baby died), and takes an interesting turn. Armor Wars was a little ordinary, though the world has a cool premise; people will probably like the Howard the Duck/Blade team-up in Battleworld #2, though I find these split books unsatisfying; and X-tinction Agenda feels like the 90s stuff I didn't care about. Still a lot more "win" than any single week of Convergence!

My Top 5 Moments from this week's Secret Wars then (and if you didn't take heed of my warning about spoilers, I'll tell you again)...

5. A rebellious Johnny Storm has been turned into Battleworld's sun, which is epic and mythic, speaks to the transformative power of the Fantastic Four (thematically and in this story specifically), is a play on revolution (he revolves around the planet), and makes Johnny succeed in undermining Doom after all, lightening the dark world and its master.
4. Maestro's trophy exhibits have nothing to do with the story as such, but it makes for a very fun intro page. (I also love the final page; Maestro's opponent made me grin.)
3. Everything about Master of Kung Fu really, but the history of that domain, prefacing each issue, is just too gorgeous.
2. The new breed of Sentinel launched against the mutants in DoFP is a Doombot in original Secret Wars armor. Of course it is. (Have that action figure!)
1. Among the many jokes in Little Marvel's AvX (and I almost put the theme song in here), I have to reference the one where the Marvel Studios/Fox battle plays out.
Those are some of my favorites. Maybe you have others? How do you think the event is shaping up to date? Looking at the list of books that will come out in June (in the middle of the text), what are you most eager to read? All questions you might like to answer in the comments section.



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