You've made your way to Super Reads, the place where I read a comic and then spoil the hell out of it for you. This time, we tackle Secret Wars #3.
This is your last chance to bail because:
There are Spoilers ahead.
Still here? Probably. Let's see where we're going so we know when we get there.
The universe ended, man. It's like over. And it's not alone. Every universe ended. I know you think you still live in the universe but that's most likely just an optical illusion.
OK. The MARVEL Multiverse ended.
This happened over the course of the latest Avengers and New Avengers series but came to a head in Secret Wars #1 when the normal Marvel Universe and the Ultimate version collided in the final Incursion between Earths. The result? The end of everything.
Except that would be easy and would make the seven remaining issues of the series kind of empty. Some of Marvel's heroes escaped the end of the universe in a life raft designed to SURVIVE this sort of thing. Unfortunately, not everyone aboard made it. The Fantastic Four and Future Foundation, besides Reed Richards, were all lost to a hull breach.
And that's not all! Doctor Doom, Doctor Strange, and Molecule Man faced off against the mysterious Beyonders and in the process, destroyed thousands of worlds, hastening the end of the Multiverse.
Which wasn't really awesome but it led, through some as yet unexplained means, to Doom and Strange living AFTER most everything else had perished. In fact, Doom got set up as the god of the last planet in existence. Battleworld.
Battleworld is a patchwork planet that combines all the scattered remains from Earths all around the Multiverse. It's basically a less-than-subtle way to combine nearly every event that Marvel has ever had on one planet. Everyone living on Battleworld believes that this has always been the way it's been.
Even though we're talking about different variations of New York City repeating itself throughout different domains on the same planet. No one thinks this is at all strange.
Finally, here come the bad guys.
Utilizing the same life raft technology as his Marvel Universe counterpart, the Ultimate version of Reed Richards, the Maker, managed to build his own identical Incursion surviving vessel. This life raft held the Cabal.
The Cabal is every bad guy you wouldn't ever want to meet and most of them are from the regular Marvel Universe. Thanos, Maximus the Mad, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and Thanos's lieutenants (Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight) all hail from the same version of reality. Terrax and Black Swan are both from different Earths.
All of them? Kind of super-wicked. When they were "accidentally" released from their life raft onto Battleworld, they celebrated by killing the hell out of one of the local law enforcement officers: one of many Thors.
Secret Wars #3
Writer & Designer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editors: Jon Moisan & Alanna Smith
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Will Moss
In this issue: We learn more about the nature of Battleworld, Doom, and the fate of the last heroes of the Marvel Universe.
• Sheriff Strange runs down recent events for Doom.
• It is revealed that Strange is the original article (from the original Marvel Universe) and that he and Doom built this world together out of the remnants of multiple Earths.
• Strange investigates the life raft in Utopia and sends out a group of Thors to find it's former occupants.
• Ultimate Spider-Man is discovered aboard the Cabal's life raft.
• The Sheriff learns that Spidey remembers a world before this one.
• We learn more about Doctor Doom's situation as he talks to his consort, Susan Storm.
• Sheriff Strange teleports the newest Thor and Ultimate Spider-Man to his Isle of Agamotto where we find another life raft.
• The Thor opens it up and we see the last remaining Marvel Universe Heroes.
• Strange gives them the lay of the land and admits that the god of Battleworld is Doom.
• The Sheriff's loyalties are... not certain.
• The Cabal's nice campfire is interrupted by an army of Thors.
AFFAIRS OF STATE
Do you want to know a little more about God-Doom? Sheriff Strange? Battleworld? Then this is your issue.
Oh, man, is it your issue.
We begin things innocently enough. The Sheriff of Agamotto is giving Doom a rundown of recent events happening all over Battleworld. Most everything is business as usual. The Shield is quiet, for example. The biggest thing going on is a supposed border crosser that's snuck into mutant lands. The Sheriff has sent out Inquisitors and is waiting on them to do their Inquisiting.
There's also a follow up on the feud brewing between Baron Sinister and Baron Braddock. We learned about this last issue when it was used as an impetus to travel throughout Battleworld and give us a tour of the different domains and tourist attractions. Sinister has paid Brian Braddock his fine for injuries delivered last issue but has sent over an "unflattering statue" of the former Baron, James Braddock. Strange thinks that, eventually, Sinister is going to have to be dealt with for his impetuousness.
Doom, on the other hand, simply doesn't care. This tending to the minutes is probably the most boring thing he could be doing and he can't understand why Stephen Strange could be so diligent with it. The Sheriff explains, as he has many times before, that in order to protect the last world in the Multiverse, he's got to protect the man on top. Doom.
Because Doctor Doom is OMNIPOTENT but not OMNISCIENT. Strange has to keep an eye out for threats.
Doom remains unconcerned. Any future challenges, threats, and dangers will be faced as they happen. He and Strange will overcome them. Together.
And now, it's time for a revelation: Strange, while acknowledging that Doom is god, also remembers the previous universe. He's not one of many variations of Doctor Strange, he's THE Doctor Strange from Earth-616. That's the regular Marvel Universe.
He and Doom built this world together by "saving what we could. Creating what we could not." Sheriff Strange also had the opportunity to be god but didn't want the job. This is all shared to show that Strange's main concern is keeping the world safe, making him a strong ally of Doctor Doom.
At this point, the two walk through a garden and walk past a... statue of Molecule Man. I'd be willing to bet that this statue is ACTUALLY the Molecule Man and not just there to honor him. It's either that or someone painted it. Which is possible.
Doom asks if there's anything important to deal with and Strange is about to tell him about something MAJORLY important when his communicator goes off. There's been... an incident.
It was in the Kingdom of Utopolis that the life raft of the Cabal was found and opened. It was here that the Cabal killed Old Man Thor. Now, Sheriff Strange and a retinue of Thors return to the crime scene to conduct their investigations. The All-New Thor is with Strange, reporting what he witnessed last issue. This isn't much. Old Thor sent Young Thor away almost immediately.
Strange uses his all-seeing eye. This is not the Eye of Agamotto. That's gone. This one is a gift from Doom to replace that Eye. Strange says it works even better. It shows him that this life raft is completely foreign to Battleworld and that not every strange new visitor from beyond has departed.
But more on that later. First, the Sheriff sends the Thors out to search down the six or so people who exited this craft. He makes sure to tell them to leave someone alive to question.
The Thors depart except for their newest member who stays with Sheriff Strange. The New Thor tells the Sheriff how out of his depth he feels. Strange remarks that when the world was new, every day was this challenging. While he talks, he raises the dead Thor up and turns it into a statue. Or, a "Sentinel." That'll probably be relevant as we go on.
That task finished, the Sheriff of Agamotto calls out for this game of hide-and-seek to come to an end. See, SOMEONE is hiding and it's time for them to reveal themselves. After some more coaxing, Ultimate Spider-Man shyly exits the life raft.
You may remember Miles Morales' small appearance in the first issue of this series. He looked like he was entering the Maker's City right before everything blew up. That's because he WAS entering the Maker's City right before everything blew up. He snuck on board the life raft without anyone knowing (Morales can turn invisible) and was waiting for an opportunity to beat up the bad guys when... well, everything blew up.
When he admits all of this to Sheriff Strange, the part that hit Stephen the most is the part where Ultimate Spider-Man REMEMBERS an existance before Battleworld.
THE DISQUIET HEART OF GOD
Meanwhile, at Castle Doom, our resident god has a chat with Susan Storm. Sue is Doom's consort... which is kinda gross... so she has his ear and maybe his heart. While the two talk on a balcony, beyond them we see Valeria and Franklin playing on the hand of the flaming Galactus.
Sue tells Doom that the representatives from the Upper and Lower Kingdoms "were singing a song about THE MAN IN THE SUN." It turns out that Sue's brother, Johnny, led an unsuccessful revolt against Doom and as punishment, was made into the sun of this world. Previous to Johnny becoming the sun, the world itself glowed. It might still do that. But: sun.
More interesting: Sue CHOSE this punishment for her brother over, y'know, death or the Shield. It's gotten to the point where people are worshiping Johnny. It's weird that Doom would allow this, and it DOES bother him, but he lets it continue because of Susan.
What's more? He seems completely honest with her about pretty much everything. She knows that in the previous universe, Doom was a mortal. Doom even seems to believe that, while the world he's created is super awesome, he may have made a mistake by being such a visible deity. Doctor Doom is acting very tired.
And, finally, there's another thing he is unable to do. He can't fix his broken face. Susan takes off his mask and it disappears (she's got invisibility mojo so she most likely MAKES it disappear). She talks about how they met and how she CHOSE him. It was because of his deep down emotions and strength of character. Sue says he shouldn't REMOVE himself from his people, he should join them.
Without the mask.
GOD DOOM LOVES ALL MEN BUT ONE
Who could that one be, I wonder? Oh, yeah, it's Reed Richards. Obviously. I haven't read every tie-in or anything but I have noticed a distinct lack of Richards in the ones I HAVE read. Sure, the Maker is walking Battleworld right now but he was an unexpected stowaway from the Ultimate Universe. If any other Reed Richards had survived the death of the Multiverse, Doom didn't go out of his way to save them.
Sheriff Strange teleports himself, Ultimate Spider-Man, and the new Thor to the Hidden Isle of Agamotto. This is Stephen's personal retreat and it's also where anything sacrilegious is sent to be "studied" but really, it's where they go to disappear.
For example: Strange has another life raft stored here. He tells the Thor to attempt opening it in the same way that the first was opened. Now, this MIGHT seem like a bad idea given that opening the first one unleashed enough killers to fell a Thor but... we all know who's inside this one so we'll forgive Sheriff Strange for being unnecessarily careless, especially considering how long he's been holding on to this one.
The All-New Thor opens the craft and out walk the last remaining heroes from the Marvel Universe.
Woo! It's about time.
So, yeah, it turns out this life raft is seriously undermanned with only a handful of survivors. Well below it's max occupancy, that's for certain.
There's a great moment where Miles Morales recognizes Peter Parker (and vice versa). We've got two Spider-Men and they've already met. As long as we're talking great moments, we've gotta mention Captain Marvel's encounter with Doctor Strange. Stephen's used to dealing with multiple variations of former acquaintances so he wonders if everyone is actually as familiar as they think. Carol's response: "Well, you sound like an idiot... which seems familiar enough."
All told, we have Star-Lord, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Thor (Jane Foster version), a Phoenix-powered Cyclops, Black Panther, and Reed Richards. Reed is having a really bad day.
No time has past for our Marvel Universe heroes. They witnessed the destruction of the world and then the door opening on their craft. That means Reed Richards is nowhere NEAR done dealing with the loss of his whole family. He just watched them all die minutes ago.
For Stephen, eight years have passed. He's had this life raft held here for three years.
Let's get to more explaining on the nature of Battleworld. Strange tells everyone that after everything died, god made this world. Direct quotes would look like this.
He constructed it out of the remnants of Incursion points between collapsing worlds. Some of what we would call OUR EARTH remains... most does not.
This means it's POSSIBLE that the Sue Storm and Future Foundation working with Doom is the REAL deal, since they'd be the definition of "remnants of Incursion points." If that's true, MAN, are things in for complications. It it's NOT true, Reed's still in for another punch right to the gut. Here's your dead wife but not really.
Everyone else on the planet only remember being on this world. When everything was getting stitched together, it was a chore to make the shared history make sense but, eight years on, it's a lot easier to maintain.
Of course, Reed picks up on the fact that Stephen isn't NAMING Battleworld's all-powerful entity. When he asks for a name, Strange admits that Doctor Doom is behind this brave new world.
Lots of dull surprise.
Sooooo... three years in storage? Richards demands that the Sheriff explain that one. In a world where Doctor Victor Von Doom is god, why does Stephen Strange wait so long to open their life raft?
Simply put, Doom "is very, very good at playing god."
Back in the Kingdom of Utopolis, the Cabal is sitting around a campfire and I'm pretty certain they're cooking up one of the goats that pulled Old Man Thor's chariot. They're still trying to suss out what this world is all about.
The Maker believes they should have kept the old Thor alive to answer their questions since the Moloid managed to be all but useless. Namor agrees.
Thanos does not. He's fine with things playing out the way they will. They'll have answers to their questions soon enough.
How does he know?
Because he's looking at an army of Thors converging on them.