Is anyone clamoring for an all-ages retelling of Jim Shooter’s “Secret Wars,” from the perspective of Spider-Man?
Maybe they should be, because this is a pretty good start to a miniseries.
For a comic designed around selling a toy line, the original “Secret Wars” series read a lot like a comic designed around selling a toy line. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it was mostly a series of escalating conflicts and betrayals that you could act out in the comfort of your very own living room with your little plastic versions of Doc Ock and Captain America.
“Spider-Man and the Secret Wars” #1 pokes fun at that now-classic series, and retells it in a way that demonstrates the ridiculousness of the original, but also has plenty of fun on its own. The issue doesn’t begin with the heroes being summoned to the battle planet, it doesn’t begin with any lead-in at all. Instead, it begins with the scene depicted on the cover of “Secret Wars” #4, with the Hulk holding up a mountain.
From there, the story flashes back in time, quickly dispatches the exposition (yup, a bunch of good guys and bad guys brought to the planet by the Beyonder), and then shows some earlier scenes involving Spider-Man, Captain America, and the Hulk. It’s fun, it’s funny, and it brings life to a story that was nothing more than an excuse to throw your Daredevil action figure at your Doctor Doom figure.
Paul Tobin is very good at making Spider-Man actually funny (not just comic book funny), and though many of the laughs come at the expense of the Shooter series (honestly, who thought it was fair to give the bad guys Molecule Man and Galactus), there are plenty of interesting character interactions as the heroes work together to get themselves out of the whole mountain-on-top-of-them thing.
Patrick Scherberger’s good, too. He’s got an Art Adams meets Erik Larsen thing going on (though more of the latter than the former, contrary to what the cover might indicate), and it works well with this goofy all-ages feel. It certainly brings a different flavor to the events of “Secret Wars” when characters have facial expressions different than either just blank or crazy angry.
This comic is certainly kid-friendly, but if you’re a longtime Marvel fan, you might enjoy it even more. Unless “Secret Wars” is some kind of sacred cow in your life. In which case you should probably save up for the “Secret War Omnibus,” instead.