THIS WEEK: Revisit one of the biggest event stories of all time in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld #1!

Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld #1

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: Pat Olliffe
Color Artist: John Kalisz
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Paul Mounts

It’s been forty years since the original Secret Wars storyline debuted. The original crossover saw cosmic being The Beyonder bring a disparate group of Marvel Universe heroes and villains to a patchwork planet called Battleworld. There the heroes and villains were pit against each other, with the promise for the winner of, well, whatever they could imagine. Secret Wars was, at its core, a comic created at the request of a toy company in order to sell toys, and it shows in the storytelling.

The newly-launched Secret Wars: Battleworld fills a similar need, albeit one in Marvel’s schedule for another nostalgia-tinged miniseries set in past of the Marvel U. The anniversary for the original event is as good an excuse as any for one of these, and in the hands of iconic creators Tom DeFalco, Pat Olliffe, and John Kalisz, the miniseries gets off to an entertaining, it not entirely ambitious, start.

Of the many characters impacted by the events of the original Secret Wars none felt more long-lasting effects than Spider-Man, yet the role Spidey plays in the original twelve issues is relatively minimal, in favor of the many Avengers and X-Men characters featured. DeFalco, the writer on Spidey’s ongoing series at the time of Secret Wars, focuses this issue squarely on the wallcrawler, fitting the events of this new book between the panels of the original event’s final issue. DeFalco has Spidey’s banter down cold, though the story suffers from Peter not having anyone to actually talk to until halfway through the issue.

Even after other named characters arrive on the scene, there’s a genericness to the issue’s proceedings that, for better or worse, fits in perfectly with the feel of the original Secret Wars series. Spidey (and, eventually, the Human Torch) fights unnamed alien monsters for nearly twenty pages, an extended sequence that has a real ‘smashing toys together’ vibe to it. Artist Olliffe is more than up for the job of bringing the bombastic action to the page. His linework is as smooth as ever, and his storytelling is energetic and easy to follow. Kalisz’s retro-styled colors complement Olliffe’s work well, adding further definition to the aliens our heroes are facing, and driving home the scope of the danger when the issue’s villains finally appear.

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 is exactly what one would want a throwback to the megacrossover to be like. DeFalco, Olliffe, and co. deliver a book that captures the tone and the spirit of the original series, warts and all. With only three more issues left in this series here’s hoping these creators find room for some much-needed nuance amidst the alien action.

Final Verdict: BROWSE.

Rapid Rundown

  • Captain Marvel #2
    • The second issue of this ongoing series from Alyssa Wong and Jan Bazaldua centers on Carol Danvers navigating her new psychic link with college student and part-time thief Yuna Yang while under threat from a new villain. Wong does a decent job balancing the beats spent on Carol’s superheroics and Yuna’s slice-of-life college experiences, which gnaw into each other throughout the first half of the issue and then collide. Bazaldua’s art heightens this dynamic throughout, keeping the emotional stakes of Yuna Yang’s love life interesting and visually at par with Carol Danver’s more conventional superhero stakes. If anything, I found myself disappointed that we didn’t get more of Yuna’s romantic exploits. The action is fun and relatively clear, Yuna’s actions are plucky and endearing without being too naive, and Carol’s drive and commitment shine throughout. It’s not overly flashy or trying to reinvent the wheel, but it’s commendable for what it is, and a good time overall. —LI
  • Carnage #1
    • I will admit to being surprised by how much I liked this new Carnage comic. This is a feeling I’ve had regularly of late, as the Venom and Carnage series have in general been strong, and I tend not to gravitate to those characters, which create the same feeling in me as being at an Applebees blasting nu metal. But! What I liked about this comic is it seems interested in redefining Carnage — who is as chaotic evil as chaotic evil gets — and what he’d do right now, today, in 2023. To do this, writer Torunn Gronbekk and artist Pere Perez (colored by Erick Arciniega and lettered by Joe Sabino) bring back Cletus Kasady, for a fish out of water (time?) thing, also done to great effect of late by Beavis and Butthead Do The Universe, but I digress. From there, Carnage confronts true crime podcasts, mass shooters, and billionaires. At the same time, he’s moving toward a run-in with Flash Thompson. It all adds up to a book that works for me. – ZQ

  • Immortal X-Men #17
    • Now, in tackling Jean Grey #4 last week, it felt as though this issue had some major points to wrap up and move forward, with a big Jean-centric issue. This is not that. Jean’s narration features heavily throughout the issue, and she’s important in the opening scene, but for the most part, it feels like she’s just another piece of this large cast. I don’t necessarily fault Kieron Gillen for this, as the Jean issue feels like it’ll actually be next month (in the final chapter of this series), but this is far more focused on Charles Xavier than anyone else. Seeing Chuck grapple with the lingering influence of Mister Sinister and his role in the collapse of Krakoa is where this book shines (with letters from Clayton Cowles), even if neither character is particularly likable. Juan José Ryp jumps onto art duties for the book with David Curiel’s great colors and just knocks it out of the park. Ryp nails the facial expressions and kills this phenomenal action sequence in the White Hot Room, with an incredibly disturbing head squish. Ultimately, this is a fascinating issue, just a bit poorly marketed as a big issue for Jean… – CB
  • Incredible Hulk #6
    • This comic seems to have flown under the radar with Marvel readers so far which is a shame because it’s been really good. For fans of Immortal Hulk, this run feels like the natural progression everyone expected after it completed. Bruce Banner is once again a drifter while trying to evade the mysterious Mother of Horrors. Writer Philip Kennedy Johnson and artist Nic Klein ramping up the horror elements. Johnson’s plot so far explores the deteriorating barrier that separates Bruce Banner and The Hulk. Klein continually comes up with more disturbing ways to turn Bruce Banner into the Hulk. The transformation in this issue is no exception and needs to be seen to be believed. The two creators clearly have a lot of fun having the The Hulk fight various monsters both new and from throughout the Marvel universe. This issue finds Banner and his new companion Charlie encountering a new Ghost Rider in Texas. There’s also another monster terrorizing the people. Who wouldn’t want to see The Hulk fight monsters? Seriously, this book is a must read every issue so far and this is no exception. – DM
  • Wolverine #39
    • Writer Benjamin Percy and artist Juan José Ryp continue Logan’s world tour as his journey of revenge brings him to the futuristic country of Wakanda. After the fall of Krakoa, the anti-Mutant organization Orchis has been stripping everything from the remnants of Krakoa, consolidating its power base, and now looking to acquire raw materials like Vibranium from the Wakandans. Luckily Logan is backed up by the exiled Black Panther. This darker side of Wakanda is relatively new to the MCU, and there are few characters suited to exploring let alone diving into the underbelly of this fast-paced, gritty mission of vengeance. After all of the history that the two heroes share with Storm, I wish there was a bit more tension between the two. This revenge arc suits Logan, after dealing with the Beast’s Weapons of X and busting up an auction of stolen Mutant tech, hunting Orchis from the shadows fits in line with his character and makes for a solid comic. – GC3

Next week, a Gang War breaks out in the Marvel Universe!