Even for a comic book event, writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic’s recent Marvel book Secret Wars is pretty big and bombastic. Basically every universe in the multiverse collides and is cobbled together into a single patchwork planet called Battleworld, made of the scraps of all of the dead universes. There’s a seemingly infinite horde of zombies, an omnipotent warlord and an army of Norse gods. Every one of the mini-series’ nine issues boasts at least one fist pump-worthy altercation between some combination of impossibly powerful denizens of the Marvel Universe.
Yet for all its scale and scope and rampant badassery Secret Wars really boils down to a story about what happens when one man’s ego is finally, conclusively placated.
I suspect we all have at least one hidden talent. One particular set of secret skills that we keep forever close to the chest because for whatever reason we’ve never gotten the opportunity to go full Taken and show them to the world. But if we did, if only we could, the world would be a different place.
For me it’s the lottery. I’ve never played the lottery. Never bought a ticket. But I suspect, no, I know that if, no, when, I finally break down and buy that Powerball ticket millions of beer tickets are as good as mine. I have talked myself out of buying a lottery ticket by reasoning that when I win it will be pretty unfair to the people who have played and lost religiously every time for years on end. That’s just the kind of guy I am.
Dr. Doom’s secret special lottery skill is absolute rulership over the entire universe. It’s a goal he’s aspired to, and on some level even achieved if but for a moment, in the past and it’s a goal that’s wound up making him a de facto villain. But villain is such a narrow word. Sure Dr. Doom wants to rule the known universe, which I guess is frowned upon, but he also genuinely, deeply, truly believes that he is the man for the job. Where I secretly ponder what jackpot amount is right for me to finally pounce and show the world my statistic-defying scratcher prowess Dr. Doom plans the improvements he will make to the universe once the universe stops getting in his way.
In Secret Wars the universe finally steps aside.
Secret Wars is a story about what happens when someone taps Dr. Doom on the shoulder and puts the winning lotto ticket in his hand. Only Victor von Doom’s winning lottery ticket is nothing short of godhood, and its repercussions are vast and totally awesome.
Good comic book events are few and far between and Secret Wars is nothing short of great, due in no small part to the brilliant notion at its center that is at once entirely fantastical and utterly relatable.