Woo! After a real close call last time, what with that crazy bolt of destruction coming out of nowhere when I was rapping up Secret Wars #11, I was able to dust off the old laptop and bring to you the final installment of the first Comic Book Classics Revisited! Let’s dive right in, shall we?
So, at the end of the last issue, the heroes all voted unanimously to confront the new, godlike Doctor Doom and force him to give up this new power he obtained from defeating the Beyonder. The reasoning? Captain America had a chance to chat up the good Doctor and discovered that no matter how much Doom claimed he’s changed and no longer sought the power he had, he still is showing some terribly human characteristics. The concerned Cap felt that it would only be a mater of time before Doom would succumb to his humanity again. It would be dangerous for someone flawed as Doom to carry all this power. Just as Colossus cast the last vote to confront Doom, KABOOM! the heroes were all wiped out with a single bolt of destructive power.
And so that is where the final issue of Secret Wars begins – with 21 dead superheroes. In the village where Zsaji healed the heroes before they took over Doombase, they look on in horror as they see the smoldering wreckage of the heroes’ home base. In his fortress, this new godlike Doom pulls back in all the power he used to destroy the heroes. He mentions again how fragile this universe is and how he needs to leave it before he wipes out whole galaxies with his power. Klaw, understandably, seems nervous.
Meanwhile, millions of miles away, the rest of the villains are still chilling in Volcana’s apartment. Molecule Man is still guiding the suburb of Denver back to Earth, but one villain in particular seeks knowledge. Enchantress has locked herself in the bathroom and calls upon a water elemental (some sort of watery nymph), who, yet again, retells the story of how we all got here. Using the water’s power, Enchantress is able to see that the heroes were killed and Doom is relaxing in his fortress. Two important details about what the elemental told Enchantress about the Beyonder is that: 1) The Beyonder comes from a realm where he was everything and lived in contentment until an event in our universe gave him a way to observe the heroes and villains of Earth. When he discovered their base desires, he decided to study it even further. 2) The Beyonder is not dead, merely defeated and he is hiding near Doom waiting for a weakness to exploit to regain the power lost.
Naturally, all is not well with the villains. The Lizard is freaking out because he’s confused and scared. Doctor Octopus thinks they have no chance of ever seeing Earth again, which leads to a heated argument between Doc Ock and Molecule Man. Molecule Man claims that he’s recreated, and reignited, the stars everyone thought the Beyonder destroyed at the beginning of the war. Molecule Man also claims he’s close to figuring out how to use his power to travel fast enough to bring them back to Earth quickly. All this gives Enchantress the chance to kidnap Volcana and attempt to steal her life force so Enchantress can get back to Asgard to warn the Golden Realm of impending doom. She’s interrupted by Molecule Man and the Lizard, but Enchantress teleports away. Unfortunately for her, the Lizard is so quick to avenge his friend, Volcana, he teleports with her back to Battleworld. There, he messes up her face, but Enchantress takes her revenge by killing him.
In Doom’s fortress, Klaw, possessed by the Beyonder, creeps up on a nearly sleeping Doom until he awakens and lashes out again by telling Klaw he must never sleep or his dreams could destroy the very fabric of the universe. Klaw begins asking all sorts of weird questions about whether or not Doom may have unknowingly revived the heroes. Doom denies this, but Klaw decides to put on a show for Doom with his power over sound. Klaw depicts how Zsaji finds Colossus and uses the last ounce of her own life to bring him back from the dead. He, in turn, takes Reed Richards to one of the cell regenerizer things that is in Doombase’s sick bay. Reed, in turn, builds a bigger one to revive all the heroes. Doom is horrified that this may have been in his own subconscious at the time he struck the heroes down. Doom begins to doubt himself so much so that he is nearly tricked by Klaw to use his powers to check to see if the heroes are dead. Doom believes that by doing so, he may inadvertently revive them. Despite his doubts he stands by his belief that he did finish them off once and for all.
Until Mjolnir crashes through the wall.
Klaw suggests to Doom that he use his power to kill the heroes again, but as Doom begins to unleash his power, it’s too unwieldy. Klaw, instead, asks Doom to give some of the power to him so he can kill the heroes. Doom agrees and Klaw uses it to summon monsters and rebuild Ultron to fight the heroes. While the Wasp is able to destroy Ultron by getting inside him and pull some wires to deactivate him, the monsters are a bit too much for even the heroes’ combined might.
Cap, however, works his way into Doom’s fortress alone. He confronts Doom. Using his power, Doom atomizes Cap again and again, but Cap keeps coming back. Doom’s fragile psyche starts to give into the massive power he’s obtained until the Beyonder comes out of Klaw and takes back his power. After taking back what Doom stole, the Beyonder takes Doom and Klaw and disappears.
Outside, the heroes were able to drive away Klaw’s monsters. The heroes have won, but not without some cost. They are still on Battleworld, and Colossus’ love, Zsaji, has died to save them. At Doombase, they bury their trusted friend and healer. Inside, Richards begins work on finding a way to get back home. Professor X, no longer encumbered by his wheelchair, decides to make himself a costume and return to Earth to take on a more field leader role (Storm is pissed about this). Spider-Man is a little curious why these new costumes are being created differently than his own, but he lets it slide. Curt Connors, no longer in his Lizard guise, joins them and will hop a ride back to Earth with the heroes. All in all, something odd has been discovered. As a residual effect of their battle with Doom, it appears that wishes are becoming true. Things are going exceptionally well for everyone (well, other than Colossus who just buried his girlfriend). Cap uses this “power” to make his shield whole again after being broken from Doom’s blast.
Now it’s time to go home. Richards has created a device that will teleport them up to the machines the Beyonder used to bring them here. From there, they will be able to return to Earth wherever they want. The first group goes without a problem, but the second group, the X-Men, has a little problem. Lockheed, Kitty Pryde’s dragon buddy, had been missing for most of the series. When he returned to the heroes, he had a friend of his own – another dragon creature. That creature went into the teleport beam just as Reed sent the X-Men away causing a minor explosion. Nobody seems all that perplexed by it because the device worked, and it was just those jerkass X-Men so there’s nothing to be concerned about! The Avengers go, minus She-Hulk who is joining the Fantastic Four in the Thing’s place. The Thing decides he’s going to stay behind and figure out why he is able to control his transformation between his rocky self and his normal Ben Grimm self. Reed has suspicions about this, but he lets Ben figure out for himself. Ben sends the FF up and takes a seat on a rock to contemplate and do a little soul-searching.
And so ends Secret Wars. As for what that second dragon was, it turns out it was part of that whole wish-fulfillment thing. Lockheed wanted a mate, so he got one. She would later become a giant monster that would rampage through Tokyo (those guys have the WORST luck!) until being blinked out of existence when Lockheed rejects her. She comes back sometime later, but, for the most part, is more of an obscure reference to this event. The Thing hangs out on Battleworld for a while. In fact, in his solo series published in the mid-80s, a full dozen issues are dedicated to his time on the patchwork planet. There was some business about having a mental block that actually was the reason why he hadn’t been able to change forms that Reed was concealing, but that was later dumped when he became the Thing full-time. At the point, he returned to Earth to find out his buddy Johnny Storm was now with his longtime love, Alicia Masters. That’s a story to itself.
I don’t have much to really say about this issue, but, instead, a lot to say about the series. Was it written all that well? Not really. It’s childish and pretty thin, but, guess what… That’s basically what all comics were back then. Sure, there were more mature books floating around, and some very good and well-written comics for kids sitting side-by-side with this series on the racks, but this was the very thing that kids were eating up and made Marvel a major force to be reckoned with in the publishing world.
This isn’t really a book that you can pick up nowadays, and by that I mean in your 30s or beyond, and read it fresh for the first time and expect to tumble head over heels for it. This is a book that longtime readers and those who appreciate the stories of yesteryear can embrace because we were there when it was coming out or was still fresh. As we grew up, comics grew with us, and this comes just before a major change in comics came about – the dark and gritty age of superheroes. This was still when superheroes were for kids and the young at heart. Comics haven’t really been like this for a long time now. This is mainly because kids aren’t into them as they used to be. Video games and technology have taken the place of comics in kids’ hearts. They still marvel at the idea of superheroes, but connect to them in different ways (i.e. movies, games, and television). This is an industry that is now ruled by adults and the stories are written more to reflect that rather than for children.
These were the books we loved some 30 years ago. These were the cornerstones of what we nearly lived for. We may have grown up, but reading these old books reconnect us to a simpler age of superheroes and skipping homework to read comics outside on the porch with friends. Books like Secret Wars stay with us because we love them just like we love old stuffed animals that we’ve long outgrown. That’s why they are classics. That’s why I revisit them. That’s why I love to talk (or write) about them.
These books have an indelible knack for giving me, and so many others, the warm and fuzzies.
So, that wraps up the first Comic Book Classics Revisited set. Please, if you have a suggestion for another series, leave a comment on any of these articles and I’ll see if I can get my hands on them. It doesn’t matter if it is an entire run, or a single issue. I would prefer to keep something of a limit to the runs (this was 12 issues/6 weeks of revisitation which is about as long as it should be I suppose), but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a longer series/run and break it up. I do already have a list of series, runs, and issues I want to get to, but will always be open for suggestions.
For now, let’s just come back on Monday for the start of the next classic revisited. I will admit, I may be getting in a little over my head because the next one is a real doozy. We’ll be turning the clock back to 1985 and walking across the street to see what DC cooked up for themselves after Marvel proved maxi-series and crossovers do indeed work. Now, if you don’t mind, I should jump off here and try to figure out why the sky suddenly turned red. It’s almost as if a Crisis is coming…