Thursday, January 21, 2016

If The Ending Didn't Surprise, At Least It Did End

I got a chance to read the final issue of Secret Wars last week (I guess there will be spoilers, if you care). So hey, it's finally over. I'm not sure it even matters at this point. Hickman and Ribic dicked around and took so long finishing it that the rest of the Marvel Universe has moved on to deal with the fallout.

Which feels appropriate. My general impression of Hickman's Avengers run was things did happen, but off-panel. A lot of characters sitting around talking about what they had done, and hey, here's a bit of a flashback so you can see bits and pieces. Hank Pym takes a trip through the Multiverse for months to find out why universes are dying, we don't accompany him, we just find out about it secondhand once he gets back.

So with "All-New, All-Different" Marvel already going for over three months now, Secret Wars is kind of reduced to another flashback. We know Miles Morales is in the Marvel U. now, and oh yeah, here's Miles getting here. We haven't seen Reed or Sue, here's where they ended up. It makes for a bit of an anti-climax, but between the Merry Marvel Hype Machine, and the endless series of Big Events (and my own desire for the whole thing to just be done already), maybe that was always going to be the case. It was never going to end everything, obviously, and it couldn't change things too much from what Marvel deems most profitable either. So, shuffle a few of the deck chairs and hope for the best?

On the positive side for me, there were a few interesting mini-series, and I was able to read them and largely ignore the event itself. That was nice. On the downside, there was the mass canceling of all their ongoing series. Some of them only for a couple of months, but I still resent that I didn't get to read those books those months because of Secret Wars. I have no idea whether that's Hickman's fault. It really feels more like a decision made by the higher-ups, but at the same time, Hickman apparently wanted to write a story where he ended the Marvel Universe, so maybe he expected them to shut the regular books down to go along with that. I don't know. Whether it's on him or not, it was another level of annoying, even beyond the usual irritation that comes with your favorite titles doing event tie-in issues. At least with those, you still have the creative team you like (presumably), working on the characters you like, and hopefully they can spin something good out of the whole mess. Not as much of an option here. Even as few Marvel books as I was buying during the middle of last year, I'd say they still cost themselves some of my dollars, just because I bought even fewer of the mini-series.

I've watched the series with a bit of curiosity because of the fact that Doom did outdo Reed early on. Doom was able to attack the beings destroying universes (with the aid of Molecule Man and Dr. Strange) and defeat them, and saved millions of lives. The best Reed and his Illuminati buddies could come up with was some little lifeboats to save a few thousand people, and they couldn't even manage that right. Of course, once Reed and Doom get down to it at the end, it turns into Reed talking shit about how he'd have done it better than Victor, because he wouldn't have tried to grasp the power so tightly and keep it all consolidated (because Reed shares all his inventions with the whole world, like intergalactic space travel), and blah, blah, blah.

Some of that's my antipathy towards Reed Richards. Kelvin Green observed once that Reed is somehow exempt from that peculiar quirk of the Marvel Universe where arrogance is punished. If Spider-Man decides stopping a burglar isn't worth his time, that burglar will kill his Uncle Ben. If Victor von Doom refuses to listen when Reed says there's a mistake in his calculations, it will blow up in his face. But when Reed refuses to listen to those who say his spaceship needs more testing on its protective shielding, it's his friend who is turned into the orange rock monster. It's the same basic error -a belief he can't possibly be wrong - but he doesn't get hammered for it the way seemingly anyone else would*. The man calls himself Mr. Fantastic, and the Living Tribunal (or whatever physical representation you want to assign such acts to) looks and says, "I'll allow it."

I understand that if Doom is the bad guy - and I guess he is, because he built a world with a lot of unnecessary hazards in it, and expcts everyone to worship him - Reed is the person you bring in to confront him. But at the end of the day, it feels like Doom and Molecule Man did most of the hard work, and here comes Reed Richards to try and play the Big Man who is going to do things right (although it's still going to come down to Owen and I guess Franklin, since he's the one with the power).

I think I'd have rather seen Reed keep goading Doom, and Victor does it himself, just to prove Richards is wrong. "You believe I cannot create, that I cannot send the majesty of Doom out to a thousand new universes? Behold your folly, Richards!" Instead it's Doom admitting Reed is better than him and relinquishing the power, and Reed working with his kid and Molecule Man to create new universes. Reed wins again, even if I'm not sure he deserves it, but what else is new? Reed is like Gladstone Gander, Donald Duck's lucky cousin, the one stuff always works out for, whether it ought to or not.

Anyway, the thing is over and done. I should just be happy about that.

* And at least Doom could have argued a) he was still just a college kid, and b) he was building a device to communicate with a soul in Hell, which is probably not a field with a lot of earlier work to use as a stepping stone, and c) he was doing so to talk to his mother, which had to put some strain on him. Reed can't really use any of those arguments, he just wouldn't accept he was not correct about something.


SallyP said...

I pretty much managed to avoid Secret Wars, although some of the side series weren't bad. But I join you in thinking that Reed Richards is really a huge self-entitled jerk.

Not that Doom is much better, but still! Why the heck Sue has stayed with Reed all these years instead of running off with Namor is more than I can understand.

Kelvin Green said...

Oh blimey. The only Marvel comic I get these days is Rocket Raccoon so it wasn't likely that I was going to read Secret Wars, but now I know that Reed Bloody Richards wins at the end, I'm never going near it.

CalvinPitt said...

sallyp: I can understand the physical appeal of Namor to Sue, but I think he's also kind of a jerk, and he seems willing to play the field a bit, which I can imagine would bug Sue. Or maybe she just hates seafood.

kelvin: And Reed's not even really doing a better job than Doom! I have to figure he, Franklin, and Molecule Man created the current, new Marvel U. Which means they're the reason Terrigen Mists sterilize mutants (or whatever it is they do to them), which is not something the Mists did previously. Aces work there, Richards.

How are you enjoying Rocket Raccoon?

Kelvin Green said...

I quite liked the first Skottie Young series and it looked like it was going somewhere, then it got cancelled in favour of Groot, which wasn't as good -- I assume this was something to do with Secret Wars -- and now it's back. I hope they give it room to breathe this time around.

SallyP said...

Actually part of Namor's charm is that he IS a jerk! But at least he owns it. Reed tries to pretend he's compassionate... which he is not.