The war has ended! The Beyonder is destroyed! Everyone is safe… Thanks to Doom?!? Yes, folks, Doctor Doom is large and in charge as the end of Secret Wars is just a breath away! Welcome back to Comic Book Classics Revisited as we take an in-depth look at the penultimate chapter in Marvel’s mega-event!
Doctor Doom stands glowing and unmasked (revealing no scars that he never allows any to see). He speaks of peace and happy tidings, but the heroes he’s addressing seem dubious of his intent. Since Spider-Man’s spidey-sense is not going bonkers, both he and Professor Xavier believe that Doom truly means no harm to the heroes. Allowing him to speak, the heroes anxiously await what the conqueror has to say, but he senses something that requires his attention immediately. Once he takes off, the villains, watching Doom speak on friendly terms to the heroes, smell something fishy. You know, because they are the real trusting sort.
So, the villains do what comes naturally – they want to bash Doom’s head in for double-crossing them. The one who gets maddest is Molecule Man. He feels personally betrayed for trusting in Doom as much as he did. He plans to confront Doom and kill him, but first, he has to get rid of the heroes. He does this by tearing up the planet under the heroes and tossing it into the stratosphere. When he approaches Doom, the good Doctor takes him into the trippy eternity that Doom can now see. Realizing Molecule Man’s own denial over being able to control living molecules (I guess those would be the molecules that make up living things), Doom removes the mental block giving Molecule Man control over all types of matter. Molecule Man returns to the villains and takes control of the baddies. First order of business: Go over to Volcana’s pad and get some rest and food, then plan to destroy the heroes!
Meanwhile, the heroes are working their way back to the surface of Battleworld. They regroup and try to figure out the meaning of everything they just witnessed. They take three panels to refresh everyone about why they are there, how often the villains attacked them, and what Doom did to gain the Beyonder’s power. They can’t find Doom and saw the villains seemed to have retreated. Speaking of the villains, they are chillin’ out in Volcana’s living room plotting their next move. Titania mostly complains about wanting to get back home (though they are in her home city, just not on Earth). Molecule Man decides he can fix that and cuts the “suburb of Denver” out of Battleworld and it begins floating into space. The heroes see this happening and Spider-Woman displays appropriate concern for her friends in that “suburb of Denver”. Captain America decides that it’s best everyone just “sack out” for the night and worry about it in the morning. Seriously, he orders people to go to bed instead of investigating what the hell is going on with the “suburb of Denver”.
Anyway, Colossus, that sad sack of mushy feelings, is missing the hell out of Zsaji. He decides to disobey Cap’s order for sleep and takes a little rocket sled to her village. As he leaves, a little light enters the remains of Doombase, and zaps the sleeping Hulk. He rambles through the corridors. Spider-Woman realizes he seems to be sleepwaking. After trying to stop him, the little light leaves Hulk and zaps her, leading her to the lab. She snaps out of it when a mass flash of light goes off. Apparently, Doom came to collect Klaw and restore Captain Marvel from her frozen state (which is what the light Spider-Woman saw). He leaves a message summoning the heroes to his massive tower.
In Doom’s tower, he shows off his new throne room to Klaw (admitting, rather oddly, that the only purpose it exists is to impress the heroes he’s invited). He then retires to a bedroom but commands Klaw to now allow him to sleep. It might just be me, but it’s looking like Doom is kind of losing his marbles just a tiny bit. At the village the heroes called home for a bit, Colossus wakes Zsaji and delivers her flowers. She can’t understand him saying that he loves her, but she gets the sentiment and smiles. At the heroes’ base, Wolverine and Nightcrawler talk over Colossus’ obsession with Zsaji. Nightcrawler is none to pleased with his betrayal of Kitty Pride, but Wolverine kinda gets it. He does reveal that his love for Zsaji is a side effect of her healing powers. Just before leaving for Doom’s new joint, a lot of the heroes complain about having really bad nightmares the night before, but they stuff that conversation for some other time because it’s time to head to Doom’s tower!
The heroes meet with Doom. As Doom tells them all that he will be happy to grant them a wish, Cap realizes that Spider-Woman is acting bizarrely. She seems to be staring at Klaw, but he dismisses it for the time being. The heroes consider what to ask from Doom. When someone suggests that maybe he could send them home, Reed Richards claims that he could get them back to Earth and there wouldn’t be a need to ask Doom for that. So, Cap declines the wish. Doom is cool with that, but warns them to leave him be because he’s going to soon transcend to a another level of existence and doesn’t want to be bothered as he prepares. Outside, Cap takes a head count but realizes Spider-Woman is still inside. He re-enters the fortress and finds Doom. He explains that Spider-Woman is missing, so Doom tasks Klaw with finding her. However, Klaw is soon entangled in a web of her creation and Spider-Woman passes that little light thing from the night before to Klaw.
While Klaw was off finding Spider-Woman, Cap and Doom have a long discussion about Doom’s plans. Doom insists that all he wants to do is free his mother’s spirit from the clutches of Mephisto, then leave this plane because he knows that every action he takes could affect millions and he doesn’t want to hurt or kill anyone. This leaves Cap with a great deal of worry. So, Cap tells Professor X to summon Colossus (who is in the middle of going all the way with Zsaji) so they can make a decision that could affect the entire universe.
Back at Doombase, Cap explains his concerns. You see, all he’s heard from Doom is how he’s transcended petty human desires. However, the first thing he did with the Beyonder’s powers was fix his face. Next, he wants to save his mother’s soul. That second thing, under different circumstances is very noble and something even Cap would volunteer for, but if he’s truly wanting to stay out of the affairs of living beings, then these types of desires should not be on his to-do list. And if everyone is purely existing at Doom’s will, then they really aren’t living their own lives at all. So he calls for a vote – fight or leave it all be. He wants a unanimous decision or they will stay away. Everyone votes to fight to force Doom to give up his power, except one. Colossus puts up the argument that Doom has done nothing to harm them with his powers yet and may never, plus, he’s kinda sweet on this chick back in town and thinks that he may be throwing away his life and happiness needlessly. Cap does admit that there is a real possibility that they will be wiped out upon showing up for the fight by a bolt from the blue. Colossus thinks things over a bit before saying that they should fight Doom and ma——- BOOM! BOLT FROM THE BLUE KILLS EVERYONE!
Okay, so eleven issues in, with one left to go, and the heroes are dead! Like totally teets-up dead. When I was a wee lad, that last page nearly made me forget my potty training. I mean 22 heroes utterly decimated. Though it is a relatively simple splash of a destructive bolt crashing down on them, it’s still kind of gruesome. Today, when I saw it, I laughed. Not in a “look at this goofy shit” way, but in a “what a great way to end the issue by striking these guys dead the moment the vote went unanimous” way. It’s almost a Twilight Zone kind of ending and man, it makes for an entertaining cliffhanger.
That all said, this issue is kind of a mess. Oh sure it ends well, but I can’t help but to think that Jim Shooter was getting tired by the eleventh issue. Things are kinda crammed together awkwardly. That “suburb of Denver” is only ever referred to that and never given a name. I mean, good god, man, just make something up!!! When that very city is lifted from Battleworld by Molecule Man, and flies off into space, Captain America decides sleep is a better thing to do than see what happened to those hundred thousand people. A person from that very town, Spider-Woman, offers up one word bubble of concern (okay, yes, shortly after that she becomes possessed by some alien light thingy, but still) and just follows Cap’s order to pack it in for the night.
Speaking of Cap, there seems to be an utter fascination with him and rest and/or sleep. We’ve seen him oversleep and unable to prepare the heroes for the oncoming attack by the villains. Here, we’re dealing with a whole other situation. Look, Captain America is my guy. He stands for what’s right regardless of politics. I admire that greatly. On a personal level, I’m the type of guy who may say something to the effect of “Let’s worry about that tomorrow.” I admit, I’m kind of a procrastinator. I’m a Gen X guy, we turned procrastination into a sport. What I would never expect is for Captain Frickin’ America to ever say that. On top of that, twenty other heroes are all like “Yeah, screw work an’ stuff… Let’s get some sleep. We’re tired.” I know Cap has evolved over the years since Secret Wars. Remember, he wasn’t even the leader of the Avengers at that time. It’s still hard to see him be so passively sleepy.
For the most part, the issue is totally saved by that final page, but it really feels like Shooter’s struggles to deal with a story with this many characters was starting to really show. Many characters’ only line in the entire book is their vote to fight Doom. Doom’s own paranoia about sleeping is weird and not really explained. The light that possesses the Hulk, Spider-Woman, and, lastly, Klaw is nicely set up as a mystery, but it doesn’t feel like a really complete idea. Yeah, it’s hard to really criticize a book written primarily for children who will get to buy toys of characters and vehicles from the story, but there are some glaring issues. Still this is not an issue that can simply be looked over because that cliffhanger and that alien light floating around in Klaw’s head is very important for the conclusion.
Special commendation should go out to Colossus for scoring a hot piece of ass though…
Alright, what do ya say we all come back on Friday and wrap up these Secret Wars? YEAH! THAT’S THE SPIR—–