Jonathan Hickman is and has always been a strong writer in the world of comic books, and his contributions to Marvel since 2009 have been among his best. Heavy on science fiction theory and with deep character motivation and development, his incarnations of long standing heroes rank high above most. Secret Wars, so far, is a culmination of all his strengths and will likely prove to be the most fitting end to this beloved universe before the big reset button gets hit.
Sheriff Strange is gone and Secret Wars #5 opens up with God Doom and his loyal compatriots mourning the loss of their fallen ally. Doom blames his death on the raft survivors from the worlds that no longer exist, whom Strange scattered across Battleworld in his last heroic act. It’s a very fitting end for Strange and what follows is the unraveling of God’s exaggerated status.
There is great conflict within Doom for what he perceives Strange forced him to do. After forming a task force to search for Strange’s murderers, Doom seeks council in The Molecule Man who has hidden away from all other beings. The exchange between Molecule Man and Doom is chilling, adding major depth to the idea that Doom’s reign as God may come to an eventual end as a result of his recent actions.
The task force, consisting mostly of the Future Foundation, begins forming a plan of action and poking holes in the logic surrounding Battleworld’s mysterious circumstances. All signs point to a grand finale, one that will shatter Doom and the world he’s built.
The plot structure and pacing in Secret Wars #5 is absolutely superb. Hickman is taking this story to a whole nother level with each and every issue. Every action in Secret Wars has a consequence, and as the stakes rise higher, the tension amongst the core factions grows. Hickman makes complex events and logic the driving force in this issue, and those who can follow are greatly rewarded.
Everything Hickman accomplishes in Secret Wars #5 is accented perfectly by the visuals of the book. Esad Ribic gives this huge cast of characters life and individuality, which is no easy task. The grand scale of the story rises to greater heights with how vast and detailed each panel is drawn. Ive Svorcina’s coloring adds another layer to how dazzling this book comes across. The line work and coloring are so in sync with conveying the emotion of the story that readers will often find themselves making similar facial expressions to the characters on the page during the issues’ biggest moments.
Secret Wars #5 is another triumph in every way. It’s rare that a crossover this big, with all its tie-ins, makes readers feel like it’s all apart of a larger world. Hickman may lose some with the complexity of his writing, but those who can keep up won’t be able to stop reading. Nobody is on Hickman’s level right now, and no one has been for a while. The grander the scale, the more he steps up the plate and delivers.
Those who favor DC Comics or another publisher over Marvel should give Secret Wars and other works by Hickman a try. No matter how deep their allegiance, they won’t be able to deny the brilliance and excitement of these stories.