Comic Book/Graphic Novel
This article is about the 1985 Secret Wars II comic book series. For other uses, see Secret Wars (disambiguation). Secret Wars II Cover to Secret Wars II #3 (Sep. 1985). Art by Al Milgrom. Publication information Publisher Marvel Comics … see full wiki
The conflict between Earth's superheroes and super villains that took place on Battleworld, which was the dubbed the Secret Wars, and orchestrated by an all powerful being named the Beyonder, has left the cosmic entity even more curious about people than before. Fascinated by the way humans think, The Beyonder comes to Earth and seeks to walk side by side with humanity to learn what exactly drives man. His curiosity soon begins a state of panic for the superheroes who knows what he's capable of, and now they're dead set on bringing him down for good. -summary
When I first read Secret Wars in original form back in the 80's, the storyline always felt as if it was capable of far more. I couldn't fathom the possibility of an all powerful being, who effortlessly swatted the almighty world devourer Galactus form the sky like an annoying gnat would sit still and leave humanity be. Jim Shooter must have felt the same way, since he decided to follow up the story, by delving deeper into the mind of Marvel's most powerful being to ever walk the universe. Make no mistake, the Beyonder was the real deal, and Shooter did a fantastic job in letting readers know this. This Trade paperback collects the 9 part mini-series.
The story follows the Beyonder as the central character, as he tries to understand what drives humanity. "Why do people eat?", "Why do people wear clothes?". These are only some of the simple questions he blatantly asks, going so far to walk up to Peter Parker, already knowing he's Spider-Man and asking these questions. He even pops up at the webslingers house with these questions and more. His travel soon lands him into the clutches of a gangster, and from there, one emotion continues to nag him the entire time, desire. Trying to understand this one emotion is what keeps him from complete fulfillment. The frustration sets in, and he soon begins to think drastically. Eventually, he clashes with the heroes on many different occasions.
Secret Wars II doesn't always feel like your typical comic book. Instead, it gives off the feeling of a character study with a real philosophical edge. How does an all powerful being, a god, find satisfaction? The Beyonder has the power to do anything he wants, create any life he wants, manipulate the feelings of anyone he chooses, yet he is clearly unhappy.
The stories aren't very action packed. Several issues go by where there's no action at all, and even when it finally gets to the action, there's really nothing special at any point. In fact, I have to honestly say that I was bored several times action wise, even when The Thing went one on one with the Juggernaut. However, I was still gripped to the narrative because the story is very strong. The first few issues have some very interesting storylines, and the reader will understand the very threat the Beyonder represents. The cosmic gods such as Eternity and even the Living Tribunal are terrified of his power. As a reader, even I felt that someone should kill the Beyonder because he's too powerful, but then you realize his intentions aren't truly evil and you can't help but feel for the guy. I think Shooter did a very good job on developing the story and the main character to the point where the action became a non factor.
Although the narrative is very strong, at times, it can feel redundant with the same questions being asked over and over. The only reason I can tolerate it, is because of the down to Earth feel of it all. Another issue I have is that the story doesn't stand alone as strong as it should. When Secret Wars II was released, it contained several crossovers that branched into many titles; such as Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers, just to name a few. And at times, it indeed feels like something is missing, for example, you find out quickly that the X-Men, most notably Rachel Summers aka Phoenix, wants the Beyonder dead as soon as possible, but you're not given enough reason as to why. There are several moments like these too, although they are referenced via footnotes on which issues clear things up.
Al Milgrom's artwork feels dated, and at times the character designs can have a generic feel. Still, there are some good moments with some notable facial expressions that can tell the story even without the use of words. Some of the action panels are nice to look at, and I have to give some credit to the coloring and inks which appears to be done rather well.
Secret Wars II holds up well enough. There's enough information provided to where the story doesn't feel like it's lacking major substance. However, I would recommend the Secret Wars II Omnibus instead, which contains the crossovers to deliver a more fulfilling experience. Some are very good while some can feel pretty weak. All in all, this is an old Marvel crossover that I believe fans should give a try.
-Top notch character and story development
-Can feel some missing pieces, a little redundant
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