Are you guys ready to end Secret Wars? Good! This is Super Reads and we're all about Secret Wars #9.
Prepare yourself because:
There are SPOILERS ahead.
Now, watch as I try to give you the short version of where we are going into the last chapter of Secret Wars.
The Marvel Multi-verse was completely destroyed in the first issue of Secret Wars but all of the Incursions that were killing whole universes were happening long before that. We learned about them in Hickman's first issue of New Avengers but even THEN, that's just the first time an Incursion had affected the main Marvel Universe. We cheerfully call that universe the Marvel-616.
Incursions? Oh, let me tell you what that is. In a nutshell, an Incursion is when two earths from different realities started occupying the same space. When that happened, you were given a certain amount of time before both earths blew up and took their respective universes with them. If one earth was destroyed before the time was up, both universes lived. Until the next Incursion brought the same threat forward.
By the time of Secret Wars #1, there were only two earths left standing, the one from Marvel-616 and the Ultimate Earth. By the end of the issue, they're both destroyed.
Well, don't worry because Doctor Doom was on the case. He was also RESPONSIBLE for all those earths slamming into each other across the multiversal plain. There was a plan put into action by the Beyonders (SUPER powerful entities that live BEYOND our existence) to destroy the whole multiverse using the living time bomb known far and wide as the Molecule Man.
Instead of preventing this, Doctor Doom HASTENED it by killing Molecule Men before their time. This eventually started the Incursions. Before all was said and done, Doom collected a number of remaining Molecule Men and "built a better bomb" in order to directly combat the Beyonders. When this titanic battle was over, Doom was left with the Beyonders' power.
He used this to create a new world, using the left over bits from the previous multiverse. Each domain of this world was a little surviving chunk of a destroyed universe, usually based off of one of Marvel's super-mega-events.
But something else survived the final Incursion. Two liferafts escaped the destruction. Within were the last survivors from the Marvel-616 and Ultimate Marvel Universes.
When those liferafts were finally opened on the last planet in the universe, out walked guys like Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, The Maker, Cyclops, Thanos, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Thor.
And if you're wondering what they thought about Doom ruling the remains of the multiverse as a living god, I'll TELL you what they thought: They hated it.
Two of those survivors are Reed Richardses, after all. Doom and Richards are major enemies. So over the course of the last few issues, our surviving heroes have been working on deposing Doctor Doom and restoring the multiverse to something that... might WORK. Instead of this patchwork planet that is constantly at odds with itself.
Since this is a Marvel comic, that means FIGHTING. Doom's castle has been under attack from various armies. His planetary police force, the Thors, have betrayed him. His domains are in revolt. A horde of zombies has suddenly appeared. And Black Panther joins the battle armed with an Infinity Gauntlet.
All of that? Just a distraction so that Mr. Fantastic and The Maker can sneak into Doom's home and look at his power source: the last living Molecule Man.
Have I mentioned that Doom stole Reed's family? Like, Sue was Doom's consort and Reed's kids believed Doom to be their father? Yeah. That happened.
Secret Wars #9
Writer & Designer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Assistant Editor: Alanna Smith
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Wil Moss
In this issue: As Battleworld erupts in chaos, Doctor Doom has a de-godded showdown with Reed Richards that, when concluded, sees Reed and the Future Foundation rebuilding the all-new, all-different multiverse.
• The Black Panther with an Infinity Gauntlet faces Doctor Doom with all the powers of the Beyonders.
• Reed finishes his chat with his former wife who barely knows who he is.
• Mr. Fantastic and The Maker enter Molecule Man's secret chamber.
• The Maker betrays Mr. Fantastic but Molecule Man isn't having ANY of that and slices The Maker into bite-sized slices.
• Doom defeats the Black Panther only to realize that he's been the victim of diversionary tactics that are keeping him away from the source of his power.
• Susan Storm accuses Doom of being the bad guy.
• When confronting Mr. Fantastic, Doom is relieves of his godly powers.
• At the climax of the fight, both men agree that Reed would have done a better job rebuilding the world.
• This ends the fight and transfers all that sweet godly might to Reed Richards.
• As Battleworld ceases to exist, Black Panther uses the Time Gem to travel back to the past to relive the events of New Avengers #1, this time with no pesky Incursions to ruin things.
• Miles Morales survives the destruction of the Ultimate Universe because he fed Molecule Man a burger.
• Reed Richards and the Future Foundation build an all-new, all-different multiverse while healing Molecule Man.
• Doctor Doom finds his face fully restored, which is something he was unable to accomplish on his own.
Super Reads Secret Wars #0
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Super Reads Secret Wars #7
Super Reads Secret Wars #8
The battle at Castle Doom is crazy, yo. It's got demons, clones, Hulks, unbelievers, mutants, and Thors all fighting each other. Not only that, but last issue ended when Black Panther delivered his army of zombies to the combat zone. That'll keep things nice and insane.
Oh, T'challa and his frenemy, Namor, also joined the fight. Black Panther is rocking an Infinity Gauntlet which makes him the most likely guy to actually dent Doctor Doom's armor.
This escalation of conflict impresses Doom and he believes he's found the architect for all of his troubles. It's clearly the Black Panther.
Doctor Doom has a lot of his mind so maybe he's completely forgotten about Reed Richards.
Instead of ripping out T'challa's spine, Doom offers a team-up. Well, more a position within his organization. Doctor Doom could build Black Panther his very own Wakanda and everything. Of course, T'challa rejects this offer, seeing it as a sham. The only way this ends is with more fighting.
Black Panther uses the Infinity Gauntlet to freeze Doom in place and turn him into some easily breakable material. Namor throws his trident, shattering Doom's body to bits.
And that's the end! Woo!
OK, not really.
Just as we saw in Secret Wars #4's battle between Doom and a Phoenix-powered Cyclops, Doctor Doom is able to reconstitute his form. This battle is FAR from over. Doom lashes out with a godly blast of energy, killing Namor. Black Panther is able to deflect the burst of energy with a shield but he loses the purple Space Gem in the process. That's one Infinity Gem down...
Now, our two combatants up the conflict, using the full force of their power. Or, as Doctor Doom puts it "Let us FINISH this... and do so as GODS..."
Roll that beautiful bean footage! Here, we're given the creators and cast. It is SLIMMED since last we saw. Of the liferaft survivors, all that are left is Mr. Fantastic, Black Panther, Namor (he was alive when the issue STARTED, at least), The Maker, and the two Spider-Men.
In the garden in what remains of Castle Doom, we get one of the most awkward meetings in the book. It's between Reed Richards and Susan Storm. In the main Marvel continuity, these two are happily married with two kids. On Battleworld, Sue doesn't REALLY know who Reed is and her children are believed to be DOOM'S kids. Sue thinks that Doom has told her the entire truth about everything but he's left out... Reed Richards. Which is kind of important when you have to offspring with him.
She also believes that Mr. Fantastic is responsible for the death of Sheriff Stephen Strange. Valeria (one of Sue's kids) tries to explain that Strange's death was probably NOT at Reed's hands but Mr. Fantastic interrupts to not only deny responsibility but to place the blame right on Sue's current husband. It was Victor Von Doom who killed Stephen Strange.
Sue corrects Reed. "You mean GOD."
Reed sticks with his answer. "I mean Victor."
You might be wondering how Doom's fight with the Black Panther is going. It's going alright. During this and other scenes, we'll see Doctor Doom and T'challa battling all over the place. Right now, they're in giant mech suits. Later on, they'll fight up in the sky near Doom's artificial sun (which is made up of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch) or even as more abstract concepts. When Doom said they'd be fighting as gods, he meant it.
Back in the garden, Reed explains that the world is broken and he means to put everything right. When Sue asks him "who he really is," Mr. Fantastic doesn't tell her that he's her real husband. Instead, he goes with "My name is Reed Richards... and I'm the one who fixes things."
The guy who was completely silent during that whole embarrassing exchange starts chatting again when he and Mr. Fantastic enter Molecule Man's domain. The Maker is the Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe and he lost his own Sue Storm long ago. This wasn't because she died. It was because Reed made decisions that led to the two ending their relationship. And then Ultimate Reed went insane and evil. So he's got a whole different perspective on the whole Reed/ Sue dynamic.
After mocking Mr. Fantastic's pain a bit, The Maker and his partner reach the Molecule Man. As usual, the first thing Owen Reece asks for is something to eat and, as usual, no one has anything for him. The only guy who has brought him food was Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, and even then it was just a VERY old hamburger that may have been stored in Miles' crotch.
Because the Spider-Man suit doesn't REALLY have pockets.
Remember when I said that The Maker was insane and evil? He totally is. And, for some reason, Mr. Fantastic didn't see his Ultimate counterpart's betrayal coming. The Maker traps Reed-616 in a temporal bubble that de-evolves the super scientist. Ultimate Reed would really like to feel bad about this but he's still embarrassed about how sad Reed got when confronted with Sue Storm.
And he'd REALLY like to be the new god.
Just as The Maker is finished gloating over his victory, the Molecule Man plays his OWN hand. It's seems Owen rather LIKES the idea of "a weepy god" and doesn't want a repeat performance of Doctor Doom played by a guy with even less of a moral compass.
The Maker is sliced into pieces. Mr. Fantastic is freed and restored to his proper form. Now, they just have to wait for Doom to catch up to recent events.
The battle between Doom and the Black Panther is reaching it's conclusion. In the end, it's resolved with a fist fight with Doom victorious. Victor Von Doom is visibly angry. After all, this battle is going to take some time to fix. However, to the victor goes the bragging rights. Doctor Doom puffs out his chest as the champion god.
When he finds T'challa grinning in defeat, Doom knows something is up. The Black Panther fills him in on the truth. "This is all a distraction."
And then someone remembers that there's at least one Reed Richards still out there, somewhere.
Instead of killing T'challa, Doctor Doom teleports away to his courtyard garden. It is here that he finds his royal consort, Susan Storm, and his daughter, Valeria. This is not a pleasant meeting. Sue has realized that Doom has kept a great many things from her, not least being that he killed Stephen Strange. Instead of answering Susan's accusations, Doctor Doom silently walks into Molecule Man's chambers.
But he's pissed. That damn Reed Richards has ruined EVERYTHING.
Reed is still recovering from The Maker's attack but he starts this conflict as calm as he can be. Mr. Fantastic simply states that he "just came to convince Owen that, perhaps, there's a better solution to all this than you."
"You" in this case refers to Doctor Doom. Not YOU. You're great. Keep reading!
Doom challenges this assumption by stating that he was willing to make the hard choices when no one else would. He saved all of THIS. Reed was only able to save himself and lost his family in the process.
Mentioning the family after what Reed has observed is PROBABLY not going to keep Reed calm for much longer. However, Doom has the power to end this fight right here and now. He snaps his fingers and Mr. Fantastic starts to disappear.
Once again, Molecule Man comes to the rescue. Neither Reed nor Doom brought him anything to eat so they will face each other as nature intended. That means that Doom is relieved of his godly powers for the duration of this fight.
As you might realize, Doctor Doom is still RIDICULOUSLY over-powered compared to Mr. Fantastic. Doom has his magic and that powered armor suit. Reed can stretch. Richards isn't REALLY a physical match for Victor Von Doom. But Doom has had a busy day and has been relying on those extra god-powers for eight years. It probably takes him a bit to grow accustomed to a weaker power set.
There's also the fact that both of these two are operating on a lot of rage. Doom stole Reed's family. Reed is tearing apart all that Doctor Doom had built.
There's some fighting. There's some talking. And then there's this full page image that combines Reed and Doom in a checkerboard pattern. It's not as clear as it could be, though, so I did this.
The crux of the fight is what it always is when Reed Richards is dealing with Doctor Doom. Doom thinks that Reed believes he's BETTER than Doom. Mr. Fantastic denies it at first, saying that he "always believed [Victor] could be better than what [he was]." But Doctor Doom isn't talking about some abstract future. He's talking RIGHT NOW. Reed thinks he could have fixed everything where Doom COULDN'T.
Reed agrees with that. Mr. Fantastic WOULD have made a better world/ universe/ future. And what's more, he knows that Doom thinks that, too. An enraged Doctor Doom angrily confirms that before doing his level best to murder the hell out of Reed Richards.
But it's too late. Molecule Man hears them both agree that Reed could have done a better job and Doctor Doom has lost a battle that was never REALLY about physical strength.
Battleworld explodes. As the landscape goes white, the Black Panther plucks the orange Time Gem from the Infinity Gauntlet and uses it...
When it's worked it's mojo, T'challa finds himself back in the past. Specifically, he's back at the beginning of New Avengers #1. The Hickman #1, not the Bendis #1. In Wakanda, he witnesses the three Wakandan youths passing the last trial and opening up a stellar map of another solar system. This scene is lifted directly from that issue. The dialogue is nearly identical with only one exception.
When this originally happened, one of the Wakandans called T'challa "king" and the Black Panther corrected him, claiming to only be the Black Panther and King of the Nekropolis. King of the dead. In this new version, T'challa simply confirms that he's king and then moves back to identical dialogue.
The major change to this scene causes a greater diversion. In New Avengers #1, this was when the first Incursion took place involving the Marvel-616 earth. It set up the entire chain of events for Hickman's Avengers books and led directly to Secret Wars. This time, however, the Incursion doesn't take place. Instead, the four Wakandans watch as a rocket blasts off into space.
King T'challa explains that this rocket will allow for "local system travel." This is "our Alpha Flight."
Which is also the name of Captain Marvel's space station support team in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe. So that's probably related.
EIGHT MONTHS LATER
THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
THE PRIME EARTH
That's Miles Morales looking out over the city of New York.
In Secret Wars #6, Miles Morales and Peter Parker visited the Molecule Man. As I mentioned earlier, Miles was the only guy who brought any food for Owen to eat, even though it was an old hamburger stored in questionable places. Before we move on from Miles looking down on New York City, we view a flashback of this Secret Wars scene. The Spider-Men are leaving when Owen calls out to Miles, thanking him for the food and telling the Ultimate Spider-Man that he "owed him one."
With (most of) the rest of the UltimateUniverse gone forever, Miles woke up on the all-new, all-different Prime Earth in Ultimate End #5. Joining Miles on the roof is Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man. Peter asks Miles what he told his MOM (yeah, Miles' mom is alive again) about what the Morales would be doing this evening.
"Studying with a friend."
After a few more basic questions, the Amazing Spider-Man asks the Ultimate Spider-Man if he'd like to go punch some criminals. Of course he would. The two Spider-Men swing out for some adventure.
And that's damn awesome, people.
In another place entirely, Susan Richards asks her daughter what the HELL is going on. This isn't the first time she's done this. It likely won't be the last. But in her most patient voice imaginable, Valeria Richards tells her mom the simplified version of what she and the Future Foundation are doing.
They're creating universes! It's a complicated process involving the power of Molecule Man, the creativity and universe shaping abilities of Franklin Richards, and the brilliance of Reed Richards. With each universe made, a version of Molecule Man is sent with it to tether it. This makes Owen Reece less crazy in the process.
So, basically, Reed makes everything better because he's not afraid to ask for help. He doesn't go it alone. Mr. Fantastic doesn't just use all that godly power by himself. Instead, he involves the entire Future Foundation. Because it's not only the creation that's important. They've also got to do research, exploration, and categorizing. Of the entire multiverse.
It's got the Future Foundation pumped!
Susan at least likes to see that her kids are enjoying themselves. As Val goes back to work, Sue walks over to Reed Richards to enjoy the view. It's a hell of a light show.
Franklin has a nagging question to ask his dad: "Are we not super heroes anymore?"
Ah, the age-old question. The Fantastic Four were Marvel's FIRST (Silver Age) super-heroes but they were always less super-heroes and more explorers and adventurers. Still, you can't get into weekly fights with the Frightful Four and NOT be kind of a team of super-heroes.
Reed explains that Daddy and Mommy had to go away for a while because the Fantastic Four movie rights weren't in the hands of Disney and anything created in a Fantastic Four comic would be able to be used in any future Fantastic Four movie created by Fox Studios.
Or maybe he just told Franklin that creating universes and exploring them was a more important job that fighting the Mole Man. Whatever. Franklin is already bored and he asked the question.
As their son goes off to play, Sue and Reed get a little alone time. Sue compliments Reed, saying that even if they aren't going to be super-heroes anymore, he should went out on a high note. And he totally did. Reed, of course, wishes Ben and Johnny were able to join them. For now, those two still have their share of super-heroing to do.
Susan thinks Reed is a big hero even though she doesn't remember anything that happened after the life raft broke apart in Secret Wars #1. All she knows is that all hope seemed lost and then Mr. Fantastic made everything better.
Reed admits he didn't do it alone. Again, we get an image of Molecule Man in his Battleworld chamber, sitting on the ceiling and giving us a crazy smile.
Our scene changes to Castle Doom in Latveria. As we close in on Victor Von Doom, we keep listening to Reed Richards talking to his wife and I'm just going to write this part down word for word. For fun.
I had some help. And that help bought me just enough time to fix so many things I've been wrong about. I learned that the difference between living and dying is managing fear. Not being so afraid of losing the things you love that you hold them too tight. I used to believe in universal contraction, entropy and the end of all things.
Well, I've changed my mind. I'm letting go. Because now I believe in expansion. I believe we endure. Don't you see?
That's a lot more hopeful attitude than "Everything dies" stuff he was saying all the time from New Avengers #1 on.
And about closing in on Doctor Doom. Victor takes off his mask to find his face fully restored. This is no surprise to you because we've seen in since Invincible Iron Man #1. But it's still significant because, as we learned in Secret Wars #3, Doctor Doom was unable to repair his face even with all of his godly powers.
Now that his face is unbroken, it appears we're looking at a whole new Doom.
And now with the series ending editorial. Secret Wars has been a hell of a ride. This isn't my first time Super Reading an event. It's the first time I haven't read EVERYTHING and maybe that has helped me from not burning out on these things but this is the first mega-event book I've really enjoyed since Siege.
And that's, really, the only other mega-event book that was really good. It convinced me that seven issue mega-event books were just too long and meandering to ever really work well. Siege was four and it worked.
And then we have this thing. This was nine issues long. And it was amazingly good. Everything fits. Everything makes sense. And, yeah, you don't need any of the tie-ins to make it work. In fact, some of the tie-ins do the opposite of that.
So, congratulations, Marvel. Congrats, Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic, Ive Svorcina, Chris Eliopoulos, Clayton Cowles, Jon Moisan, Alanna Smith, Tom Brevoort, Will Moss, and Axel Alonso. You done good. Even with the delays. Bravo.