10 Favorite Secret Wars Moments

The recent announcement that Marvel would do another Secret Wars event - which I'm unlikely to care about, as everything "Secret Wars" beyond the original has sucked (unless you're a fan of Peter Parker teaching the Beyonder how to use a toilet) - has had me thinking about the granddaddy of all superhero events quite a lot lately. I realize Marvel Super Heroes' Secret Wars was born from the need to sell an action figures line, and was in some ways just a big year-long brawl, I still love it. And on (frequent) occasion, I still like to pit my favorite heroes and villains against one another on some patchwork Beyonder planet, hosted in my mind. So I thought I might go through Secret Wars once more and give you, in chronological order, my 10 favorite moments from the series.
Magneto thrown in with the heroes. I always thought this was a strong idea. If the Beyonder put characters in camps based on their desires - altruistic, selfish, and Galactus - then Magneto very much should be with the heroes. He's not in it for himself, he's fighting for his people. This is before Magneto started getting more sympathetic play in Uncanny X-Men and it shows. He's quick to turn on the heroes, though the X-Men eventually join him in an all-mutants camp. Well, all the human heroes really WERE jerks to him.
Molecule Man drops a mountain on the Hulk. MM is one of the characters who most benefited from the series. He's always been powerful, but that meant he was seldom used, and so still wore a goofy Silver Age costume, and was usually too easily defeated. Exploring his character in Secret Wars made sense of all that, and gave him at least one cool moment, when he drops a whole mountain on the heroes. The Hulk holds the whole thing up, saving everyone from a crushing death. It's awesome.
Molecule Man won't be bullied anymore. MM again? Why yes. He has all that power, but no confidence, and falls prey to the jock-like bullies of the Wrecking Crew. When he finally has enough, it's a fun moment of wish fulfillment for puny comic book nerds everywhere. Especially the bit where his gorgeous new girlfriend Volcana chips in.
Hawkeye - just a normal guy / Monica Rambeau brushes Rhodey off. Ok, I'm cheating by putting two moments here, but they're right next to each other. My REAL favorite moment is the one where Hawkeye expresses his insecurities to Spider-Man, forced to make new arrows from raw materials or face becoming useless. I've always liked this characterization of Hawkeye, where he's just a regular guy with a singular talent, somehow managing to hold his own in a world of superhumans. That everyone thought the Iron Man in this series was Tony Stark (that is to say, a veteran hero) was one of the funnier bits in the series, especially when it led to miscommunications like the one above.
Galactus tries to eat the Beyonder planet. How does Galactus win the Secret War? By eating the planet and everyone on it, of course! He doesn't actually manage it and instead eats his awesome ship the size of a solar system, but Dr. Doom steals his lunch! Yeah, things get cosmic and cool in the third half of the series.
Doctor Doom dissects Klaw. A small thing, but I love the loopy, Ambush Bug-like Klaw and how Doom cuts him up into solid sound slices. By the end, he's just a head without a brain pan, and still yucking things up!
Doctor Doom vs. the Beyonder. Using Galactus' power, Doom goes up against the Beyonder itself... and wins! Doom becomes God, essentially. Finally, power to match his ego. If you're a fan of Dr. Doom (and why wouldn't you be?), this surely fits among his greatest hits!
The Enchantress whips (up) a bathtub elemental. When things get rather Doom-sided, Molecule Man turns the patch of planet that is a Denver neighborhood into a space-worthy life raft and takes off. It's during this journey that the Enchantress uses and abuses a sassy water elemental, conjured up from a 4½-room apartment's bathtub. Hilarious.
The kernel of doubt. Dr. Doom has used his god-like power to destroy all the heroes. Game, set, match. Except Klaw tells a story, an improbable but still possible story in which an alien healer (who had a relationship with Colossus and the Human Torch during their brief stay) finds the dead heroes and heals Colossus, leading to a chain of events that resurrects the whole team using alien tech. Improbable, but Doom doesn't control his new wish-fulfillment powers well enough to prevent his imagination to actually make it happen! And then the resurrected heroes attack his HQ... Literal deus ex machina FTW!
Captain America wills his shield back together. When the heroes got hit by the god-blast, Cap's shield is broken. But because the Beyonder World has innate wish-fulfillment characteristics, he uses his intense willpower to restore the whole from fragments. Sure, it just restores the status quo, but it's very well done.

I might have skipped your own favorite moments. Comments section to the ready!


Anonymous said...

"unless you're a fan of Peter Parker teaching the Beyonder how to use a toilet"

You know me too well.

There's something about the early 80s that I will always consider the Golden Age of Marvel Continuity. They seemed to have the balance just right between solo adventures and interconnectedness; and while sales was doubtless part of the calculation, it also felt more natural, like the creators on the various titles were working collaboratively out of a respect for the whole.

Martin Gray said...

Aw, now I want to read this series, I never got beyond (see what I did there) the first issue? I was sent a collection recently, so maybe ...

Siskoid said...

Anon: I think so too, and not just because it's when I really got into comics. So many great runs... Claremont's X-Men, Simonson's Thor, Byrne on FF and Alpha Flight, Miller/O'Neil/Miller again/Nocenti on Daredevil, Peter David's Hulk... a great time for Marvel Comics before the 90s crashed the whole damn thing.

CalvinPitt said...

Spider-Man vs. the X-Men was pretty good. I especially like the bit where Logan leaps at Spidey while making some threat, and Spidey casually turns and backhands back off panel, adding some comment about how those pigstickers may impress the rubes, but (I forget the rest).

And I say that as someone who generally likes Wolverine, but it was still pretty cool.

SallyP said...

Boy this brings back some memories. Is this the one where the Wasp died and nobody noticed?

Siskoid said...

A giant laser beam pierces her right through the chest, but she miraculously survives then plays kissy-face with Magneto.

I did not earmark those moments for my Top 10.

American Hawkman said...

Loved Spider-Man taking out the X-Men, and Thor versus Doom' s entire army. I also liked Doom responding to gaining godlike power by offering to go be Doom somewhere else and leave the heroes in peace until they decided to oppose him.

Arion said...

So many great moments.
And I agree with the comments here, the 80s were such a great era for Marvel.

Delta said...

Great, great moments.

My one major regret, that seems to irritate me more as the years go by, is that Mike Zeck couldn't get to do the art in issue #4 (or #5). That's the issue where the Hulk holds up the whole mountain range; and at the same time Thor takes on the entire villain legion single-handed. The Layton are is really pretty awful, and these should be the highlights of those most powerful heroes that Zeck's big-fisted style is perfect for.

I know you can't predict these things at the time, and they were on a deadline. But in retrospect the project would stand up so much better if they'd delayed publication to let Zeck catch up (or whatever the reason was).

Delta said...

Oh, and Anon does make a great point about the right balance for crossovers in the early 80's. (And that could maybe be generalized to amount of legacy stuff supporting the run. Maybe someday Marvel will need a reboot like DC, it seems like it's becoming less tenable these days.)

Anonymous said...

I'm all for Superboy Punches every now and again, just to shake out of continuity all the stories you wish hadn't been told, or to fine-tune stories you want to keep in continuity.

It's still in continuity that Carol Danvers was raped by a guy she later gave birth to, then ran off to his dimension with him, and the Avengers were cool with it.

It's still in continuity that the Joker shot Barbara Gordon (which I can accept), then took off all her clothes (dude, not cool) and showed nude photos to her dad (dude, so totally not cool). If we must keep "The Killing Joke" more or less in continuity (I personally wish we woudln't but that's just me), at least make it less squicky.

Simon (formerly Johnny Sorrow) said...

I've always appreciated the brief sequence of Enchantress drowning her sorrows, and then stumbling around.

JohnF said...

I think it's ridiculous to highlight something the Joker did and say "not cool."
Yeah, no shit it's not cool. It's the Joker. He's a mass murderer. If you prefer Caesar Romero Joker, that's your prerogative, but the Joker is supposed to do horrible things.

Anonymous said...

But the Joker isn't a real person; he is whatever the storytellers think is a good idea. Having the Joker do horrible things to Barbara may be in character, but it may also be a bad story idea for a number of reasons.

So my beef is with the creative team -- Alan Moore, and Denny "cripple the bitch" O'Neil -- and not with the Joker.


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