Greetings from the Odinson,
It was one of Marvel Comics first and still one of its most influential and impactful major crossover events. The Odinson is taking a look back at 1984’s Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. In Part 1 (see HERE), we walked through the lead up to the event, the set-up, the players, and the first shots fired in the war. This week, we will see how the war plays out and how one conflict leads into another, and we will witness one of the most significant moments in Marvel History!
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: A Retrospective: Part 2 of 4
Secret Wars #5 – This is another issue where so much happens! When we left off, the Marvel Heroes were reeling, hurt, and on the run. They stumbled upon a strange village residing in the shadow of Galactus. The villager here have been ripped from their homeworld by the power of the Beyonder and their domain used as part of the many fragments that comprised Battleworld. The heroes and the readers are introduced to Zsaji, a woman in the village with the amazing ability to magically heal wounds. Zsaji and the Human Torch quickly bond and learn each other’s pasts. Issue #5 provides a refresher of the situation and players involved and provides a great jumping point for readers who may have showed up to the party late.
However, our heroes do not have very long to catch their breaths as Galactus the Devourer of Worlds summons his mighty planet ship that is a hundred times the size of Battleworld. If this means what Mister Fantastic thinks it does, they are all doomed! But they don’t get a moment’s respite as the army of super villains mount an all-out sneak attack that catches them off guard. Just as the villains are about to deliver the killing blow, the X-Men and Magneto show up and, in an uncanny display of teamwork, send the villains packing, but not before Colossus is severely wounded. As the X-Men make their leave, they are ordered to leave their comrade behind, and they are not happy about it. Professor X reveals that he mentally discovered there is a healer in the village and Colossus would be better off there.
We witness the budding romance between Volcana and the Molecule Man. A great exchange between Doctor Doom and the Enchantress. Magneto, Professor X, and Mister Fantastic all trying to address Galactus, and all of them failing. Rogue having doubts on whose side her loyalties will fall if things go sideways. And, Colossus meeting Zsaji for the first time, a subplot that will have major impact on the story present and future.
Like I said, Issue #5 has so much packed into a single issue.
Secret Wars #6 – We open with the Wasp, who made her escape from Magneto back in Issue #4. She wrecks her hovercraft and gets lost in the bizarre wilderness of Battleworld where she comes face-to-face with Spider-Man’s foe, the Lizard! Meanwhile Doctor Doom, who has boarded Galactus’ ship discovers the villain Klaw imprisoned there. Again, this is back when continuity was king in comics and the reasons for why the Master of Sound is there can be found in Dazzler #9-11.
There’s some more great character exchanges as Wasp manages to tame the Lizard. Professor X is confronted by both the immortal Enchantress and Storm. There are more signs of Bruce Banner’s waning control over the Hulk. And, Colossus is beginning to struggle with his love for Kitty Pryde, who is back on Earth, and his guilt for burgeoning feelings for the exotic Zsaji.
However, the best part of this issue is seeing the X-Men’s Cyclops, Rogue, and Wolverine battle a quartet of supervillains, Doctor Octopus, Titania, Absorbing Man, and the Molecule Man! It is always interesting to see characters that don’t normally interact in a comic book world cross paths, and this scuffle does not disappoint. Also, this issue ends on not one but two cliffhangers as the Wasp is seemingly murdered by the Wrecking Crew and there is a mysterious visitor spying on the Marvel Heroes.
Secret Wars #7 – Right off the bat, the heroes, and the readers, are introduced to an all-new Spider-Woman. This is Julia Carpenter, not Jessica Drew, and she was brought to the Secret War when her hometown Denver, Colorado was snatched up by the Beyonder as one of the pieces of his makeshift world. Also, pay attention to her costume design as it will come into play in the next issue. The Wrecking Crew suddenly rumble through the scene delivering the body of the Wasp, who is immediately taken to Zsaji. But it appears Janet is beyond even her abilities to heal and the heroes suffer their first casualty.
Meanwhile, Volcana makes a deal with the Enchantress so that she can be by the Molecule Man’s side. Owen was severely injured in the battle against the X-Men. This is a deal Volcana will soon come to regret. There is a rematch between these villains and the X-Men where both sides give as good as they get and neither side walks away unscathed.
She-Hulk, angry over the demise of her friend, mounts a solo attack on the villains’ lair. Jennifer Walters is one of the strongest heroes in the Marvel U and she manages to take down many of the villains, but in the end, she is overwhelmed by sheer numbers and beaten nearly to death. When Galactus discovers the intruder on his ship, Doctor Doom barely survives the eviction. The issue also ends with two cliffhangers. Colossus catches Zsaji as she collapses after exiting the hut where the Wasp lays, and the heroes, who have only been reactive until now, finally decide to take the fight to the villains.
Secret Wars #8 – In this pivotal chapter, our heroes mount an all-out assault on the villains’ home base! We are treated to so many delicious showdowns, many of which we rarely get to see, if ever. Spider-Woman vs. Absorbing Man. Hawkeye vs. Piledriver. Hulk vs. Enchantress. Captain America and Human Torch vs. Ultron. And, Spider-Man vs. Titania, where the wall-crawler gets it over on the powerhouse so badly, it has a significant impact on the villainess for years to come.
The heroes prevail and take all the super criminals captive. Meanwhile, we learn Zsaji nearly gave her own life to bring the Wasp back. As Mister Fantastic repairs Iron Man’s armor, he learns that it’s a man of color under the helmet and the two heroes have a refreshing exchange. The issue ends with a harrowing cliffhanger. Professor X declares telepathically that Galactus is devouring the world!
All that aside, the most monumental event in this issue, and arguably the whole series, is this is the issue where Spider-Man gets his black and white costume. It is a look inspired by the new Spider-Woman’s costume. This is a moment that will impact the Marvel Universe for years to come and is still relevant to this day (see King in Black). Secret Wars #8 is a milestone moment in Marvel Comics History!
Secret Wars #9 – This issue is cover-to-cover, all-out action as the Marvel Heroes attack Galactus with everything they have. There are some really great character beats here. Ben Grimm feeling useless without his power, but when he suddenly transforms back into his old rocky self, we see something we never thought we would, Ben Grimm happy to be the Thing! Spidey discovers his new costume makes his webs organically. Plus, a face-to-face meeting between Mister Fantastic and Galactus brings up a dilemma for Reed. Should the heroes allow Galactus to win so that the Beyonder can grant him his wish to take his hunger away, ostensibly saving potentially countless billions of lives on future planets he would consume? This is a hard decision Reed has faced before in Trial of Reed Richards saga.
The heroes regroup and attack Galactus in full force and they pull off the impossible! They actually drive the World Devourer away. This leads Galactus to consume the cosmic energies of his own massive planet ship. This feat will put Galactus too far out of reach in scope of power for even our heroes to stop him from consuming Battleworld. The issue ends on another cliffhanger as the scheming Doctor Doom has another outcome in mind.
Secret Wars #10 – If you were ever on the fence about whether or not Victor Von Doom is the most dangerous man in the Marvel Universe, this is the moment in Marvel History that settles all debates and lays them to rest. Doctor Doom uses the super science at his disposal to craft a machine that syphons all the cosmic power Galactus generates by consuming his homeworld and channels it into Doom!
Meanwhile, the heroes are picking a very inappropriate time to be debating the social conflict between mutants and humans.
Doom, now with the power of a titan, confronts the Beyonder in a cosmic showdown that threatens to shake Battleworld apart. What follows is hard to put into words. The overwhelming power of the One from Beyond is too much, even for Doom’s new found cosmic might. In the maelstrom of unearthly energies being released, Doctor Doom is broken down atom by atom until only the will of Doom remains, and the will of Doom is indomitable!
Through sheer force of will, Victor Von Doom defeats the most powerful entity the cosmos has ever known (circa 1984 Marvel continuity) and takes the Beyonder’s powers as his own. In the aftermath of the celestial showdown, the Beyonder is seemingly destroyed, Doom rebuilds his body, returns to the heroes, removes his mask, and declares, “The War is over!”
Man-oh-man what a cliffhanger! Tune in next week as we finish our look back at Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars with how the war ended and the monumental aftermath of this seminal event.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE. Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE.