In Secret Wars #1, we saw the death of the 616 and Ultimate Universes; the final two universes left in the Marvel multiverse. Though we witnessed worlds and heroes die, this wasn’t the end of everything. A new world has been born from the pieces of the old ones and it is here where Secret Wars #2 now takes place.
Welcome to Battleworld!
The first issue tossed readers into the fray with no real frame of reference for those who had not been following Marvel’s Avengers books for the last three years. This isn’t the case with Secret Wars #2 however. Given that this is a new world, this issue eases readers in by introducing them to the major players of Battleworld and what governs this new land. In many ways, this issue could have been the first one.
From the outset, we are introduced to the Thors: a group of law enforcers who act as a narrative guide throughout the issue. Though these men and women are powerful in their own right they all answer to the all-father, the one who created Battleworld and all of reality: Doom.
Victor Von Doom has always wished to take over the world, not only for egotistical purposes (though ego definitely plays into it) but because he honestly believes he can rule better than anyone else. In this land, his ambition has come true. However, he isn’t the mad tyrant you’d think. On numerous occasions he has demonstrated that he cares about his subjects in Latveria and we see this again in Battleworld. Of course, Doom’s love for his people is one given with a firm iron hand.
The majority of the issue takes place in Doom’s throne room where the God Emperor himself sits on Yggdrasil: the World Tree, and presides over a dispute between two barons: Jamie Braddock and Mister Sinister. This scene is useful for showing us the different dynamics of Battleworld and who its major players are. It clearly establishes the power Doom has over villains like Sinister and how those who don’t follow his rules are punished. It also shows that his wrath can be tempered by Susan Storm who appears to be his consort, if not mistress.
Despite Doom’s power, he is not omnipresent and doesn’t know all that transpires in his world. In particular, there are those who question the origin of Battleworld; an activity that is tantamount to heresy. An unknown craft is discovered underneath the kingdom of Utopolis and when it is found to predate the history of Battleworld, Doctor Strange, who is the sheriff of the world, decrees that it and all evidence of its existence be covered up. After all, there can be no signs that anything the God Emperor says is contradictory.
Just like this issue set up Battleworld and its kingdoms, it also sets up what is to come. We see that the life raft found in Utopolis didn’t contain the heroes seen at the end of issue #1. Instead, it was the Cabal, lead by Thanos and Ultimate Reed Richards who were on board. This group will no doubt make their presence felt on Battleworld and that will carry the story forward until another big twist is dropped.
Esad Ribic’s art gets a real chance to shine in this issue. While the previous issues had some great splash pages, most of it was composed of small panels that hindered the epic nature of the conflict. In this issue, we see some of the various landscapes of Battleworld in full glory. Each one contains a distinct look from one another which helps to give the reader a sense of where they are in the kingdom. The problem of not having a proper inker is still present but it’s something that I’m getting used to.
This was a fantastic introduction to Battleworld that will make readers want to find out more about it. This is no doubt where all of the various tie-in issues will come in and flesh out the characters and the world. In some ways this very much feels like the Age of Apocalypse event in that we are given familiar characters in an unfamiliar world with different dynamics between them. That’s a formula that fans always seem to enjoy and which Secret Wars is milking for all it’s worth. This is one company-wide event that seems to be delivering more than even what it promised. This has the makings of a classic so far.