Waiting for the Trade
Spider-man & the Secret Warsby Paul Tobin & illustrated by Patrick Scherberger & Clayton Henry
collects Spider-man & the Secret Wars #1-4 (& Secret Wars #1)
Why I Bought This: This miniseries was released to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the legendary Secret Wars event. I love that story and am all for a little nostalgia.
The Plot: We revisit key events from Secret Wars from the perspective of Marvel’s flagship character.
Chapter 1 – We open on the scene of Hulk holding up a mountain that the heroes are trapped under. We then cut to earlier that day where Spidey, Cap and Hulk are scouting and see Enchantress. Spidey notes the odds seem awfully unfair what with the villains having Enchantress, Molecule Man and Galactus on their team. He also questions why Magneto and by implication Hulk where assigned to the heroes. Enchantress spots them and we get a fight that Hulk wins. Captain Marvel v2.0 shows up to warn them Wrecking Crew is coming and for some reason Cap and Spidey think they need to retreat. Later that night Spidey brings his doubts about Hulk to Cap. And now we’re back under the mountain where Spidey annoys Hulk to make him madder so he can keep holding up the mountain while Reed devises an escape plan. After they escape Spidey apologizes to Hulk but Hulk overhead the earlier conversation between Spidey and Cap and tells Spidey off.
Chapter 2 – We open on Spidey, Ben Grimm and Dr. Doom giving an inspirational speech to the citizens of
in preparation of repelling an alien
attack. Rewind to a day earlier where Spidey and Ben (sans Thing powers) have
installed holographic projectors so that Reed can tell the citizens what has
happened and calm their fears. A local family offers the heroes dinner and in
the process alerts them to a nearby rampaging alien barbarian horde they call
the Spindles. The horde was previously driven off by Lockheed the dragon whose
has been guarding the town ever since. They also learn Doom has been visiting Denver the last few days
primarily to meet with two local women. Spidey follows Doom for afternoon and
he does not seem to be doing anything nefarious. Doom discovers him and Grimm
and tells them flat out what he is up to: Doombase has machines that can grant
superpowers and he is looking for recruits among the populace. While they are
talking Reed radios in that the Spindles are coming and Doom volunteers to help
the heroes protect the city since he has yet to finish his own mission here.
Back where we started with Lockheed fighting alongside Spidey and the others. It
seems the aliens may overrun them but in the end the heroes and Doom turn them
back with Doom even saving a helpless kid in the process. Doom also recruits
two women who fought hard despite being ineffectual. The heroes let Doom and
the women depart (who will become Titania and Volcanna) and celebrate with the
Chapter 3 – We flashback to the battle of all the heroes fighting Galactus. Reed warns everyone that fighting Galactus causes you to experience time and reality differently (which has never happened before but whatever). As a result we get various flashbacks from Spidey’s life (Gwen, Uncle Ben, MJ, Felicia, etc) intercut with him running up a hill and talking to Enchantress, who serves as his alternate reality tour guide. Then Spidey gets a glimpse of the future which leads to a few pages foreshadowing Venom (as Spidey acquires the Black Costume right before the Galactus battle). The issue ends with the heroes chasing Galactus off and Spidey wondering what it all means.
Chapter 4 – We’re joining in to when Doom acquired the Beyonder’s power. We then get a glimpse of an alternate reality where Peter has the Beyonder’s power. He uses them to stop crime and improve the city but Uncle Ben keeps dying on him though with the Beyonder power he keeps resurrecting him. Doom reveals to Klaw that he subconsciously sent a fraction of the power to Spidey and Wolverine to keep him grounded in reality. This leads to Spidey and Wolverine fighting monsters on another planet until they realize they are in the Beyonder-verse. We do get some neat narration from Doom on how he was able to defeat the Beyonder due to the nature of the Beyonder’s power. Pete’s alternate reality from the start of the chapter then fades as Doom claims all of the power. He also mind-wipes the events from Spidey and Wolverine’s memories.
Bonus Chapter (The first issue of the original Secret Wars) - We open on a satellite in deep space containing the best of Earth’s heroes: Spidey, Hulk, the FF, the Avengers, the X-men and Magneto. Next we second satellite filled with the worst villains: Enchantress, Ultron, Absorbing Man, the Wrecking Crew, Kang, Lizard, Galactus, Dr. Octopus, Molecule Man and Dr, Doom. The heroes question why Magneto is on their ship when the Beyonder reveals himself for the first time. He destroys a galaxy, builds a planet and lays down the rules of his game “slay your enemies and you desire shall be yours.” Ultron uses the cue to attack anything living in his satellite until Galactus snuffs him out with a flick of his finger. Galactus attacks the Beyonder as Doom follows him but they are easily repelled. The satellites land. The heroes refuse to work with Magneto then elect Cap as their leader. The villains ask Doom to fill the same role but Doom has no interest in playing the Beyonder’s game. Doom attempts to seek out the heroes but is shot down by Kang. We end on the villain army attacking the hero army.
Critical Thoughts: This is hard one to evaluate. It would almost be like ranking the DVD deleted scenes and extras of a collector’s edition separate from the movie. I think it accomplished what it sets out to do: namely give us a sort expanded (yet unessential) look at Secret Wars for the 25th anniversary. If you like the original story you’ll probably enjoy this too but it is by no means anywhere near the quality of the original (and that becomes really obvious when you read the bonus chapter from the original series).
Generally I liked the first two chapters better than the last two. I thought the first chapter focusing on Cap-Hulk-Spidey had a nice classic feel to it. Those three heroes were clearly Marvel’s biggest mainstream crossover stars at the time the original series was winning. I think Spidey feeling out of his depth at thought of facing Enchantress, Molecule Man or Galactus especially since back then he didn’t do cosmic stories or team up with the Avengers all that often. I don’t understand why Spidey and Cap think they need to retreat from the Wrecking Crew. Spidey had faced the individual members of the Wrecking Crew in his solo title in the past and done just fine with Cap, Hulk and Captain Marvel there they should mop the floor with those guys but I’m quibbling again.
Chapter 2 is probably my favorite chapter because it is new material (a deleted scene as it were as opposed to an extended version of an existing scene.) It’s a really good Doctor Doom chapter showing his nobility and honor, while also showing Spidey and Grimm’s heroism. I also like that we see how and why Titania and Volcanna were recruited since in the original story they do just show up out of nowhere.
Chapter 3 is the weakest chapter by far. I get why you want to make a big deal out of the Black Costume since that was the big Spidey development in the original story and then Venom went on to become super popular but the dialogue of foreshadowing is clunky and the time-shifting plot device is just something they pulled out of the butt. I’ve read plenty of Galactus stories and none of this reality shift nonsense has ever been part of them. That chapter four doubles down on the alternate reality silliness does the book no favors but at least that chapter has an interesting explanation from Doom on how the Beyonder’s power works and why he was able to win.