Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Battleworld arrives! Doom achieves literally every dream he’s probably had in his entire life! All your faves are less dead than they were last week! But they might be totally different people?
Last week’s premiere of Secret Wars culminated in an explosive (and confusing) final battle between the Ultimate and 616 universes. As these two worlds collided, Victor von Doom was at the end of time with the Beyonders, and evidently that was the right call: we open in issue #2 to find that he’s remade what’s left of the universe in his own image, piecing together all the worlds left behind into the Battleworld Marvel’s been teasing for the last several months.
Iconic titles have become territories led by some of Marvel’s most famous characters as Barons (hi there, Mister Sinister) and Baronesses. Doom serves as god-king, backed up by right-hand man Stephen Strange, left-hand girl Valeria Richards, and an army of Thors, each chosen by their own personal hammer. It would seem the indeterminate period of time of Doom’s rule has been largely peaceful (compared to what we left behind last month) and, surprise surprise, that is changing.
As Valeria and Stephen investigate the discovery of an artifact that turns out to be the crashed ark ship from last issue, Braddock family patriarch Baron James Braddock, Sr. meets an unfortunate end after Doom finds out he may be inspiring rebellion amongst Battleworlders. Together these two incidents certainly bode ill for Doom’s dominion, but after several universes were violently collapsed into Doom’s patchwork kingdom, what’s a little coup among friends?
All in all, Hickman’s writing ensures Secret Wars’ second issue is as compelling as its first, and thankfully far less grim and miserably existential. Even if a thousand tie-ins meant we knew everyone wasn’t really dead, familiar faces are a relief, and knowledgeable readers will have a great time theorizing as to what they might mean to Doom and Battleworld in future issues.
This week also feels like a much better introduction to Secret Wars than issue #1, which may have worked better as an Avengers issue. But I was unsure about whether this would be accessible to new readers last week, and unfortunately this issue has tipped me closer to “no.” That some of these characters are present as they are must be vital to the story, and in lieu of some major Wikipedia study time, new readers may want to wait for a (hopefully annotated) trade.
TL;DR: Battleworld is kind of like Time Compression in Final Fantasy 8. EVERYTHING EXISTS AT ONCE, and makes no sense, and you’re probably going to get stuck fighting the last ten minutes with the characters you kind of ignored for the last three discs. Devoted Marvel fans should pick this up, but here’s hoping someone does an annotated Secret Wars for newbies.
Also be sure to checkout my previous review of Secret Wars #1