I found myself thanking Doom that Secret Wars #6 had finally come out. In order to justify my jubilation, I checked the archive and discovered that it hasn’t even been a full two months yet! Sheesh! That’s no time! Except the end of summer, the start of school, a quarter of the football season and a leaf fall closer to winter.
This issue opens with Doom asking for an update into the investigation surrounding the demise of Stephen Strange. Valeria reports to her father, Doom in this version of reality, that they are no closer to the party responsible than they were previously. Of course, Valeria is no fool herself, which further amplifies the uneasy feelings permeating the walls of Castle Doom.
Outside those walls, an uprising is occurring. Well, several uprisings. Readers from the various splinter tie-in titles know that not everyone is quite feeling that Doom is worthy of worship. In addition to skipping church, some of those characters are taking the next steps to deposing Doom. Hickman elevates the tension and uncertainty that enshrouds Battleworld by bouncing around in this issue. He checks in with the Reeds (Richards from the 616 and the Ultimate Universe), Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Namor, Spider-Men, and, finally, gives readers a payout on the loudly unspoken question: “Where is Ben Grimm?”
For most of this issue, the story skips along, pointing out cracks in the wall and occasionally lingering long enough to pick at them a bit. “Most” in this case is the first twenty-two of twenty-five pages. That final reveal takes the eyebrow-raising factor up a few notches and saves this issue from being simply a very good transitional tale.
Of course Esad Ribic’s art also helps keep Secret Wars #6 from being “just another comic.” This isn’t Ribic’s best single issue ever by any means, but it is a very pretty looking issue. A few characters get a little too goofy for Ribic’s usual precision (looking at you, you’ve-had-too-much-to-drink Sinister), but they work within the story, despite seeming so wildly out-of-place. As he has done throughout Secret Wars, Ribic leaves much of the labor present in the final drawings, with lines piling up in shaded areas and sound effects drawn into the scenes, curtailing the responsibilities of letterer Chris Eliopoulos. Iva Svorcina preserves Ribic’s line quite nicely, using a color palette that is bright, but reserved. The environmental coloring is largely atmospheric, affecting as much to the tone of the panels as to the detail in those panels. Eliopoulos does a great job providing a variety of tones in the word balloons while keenly complimenting Ribic’s art, perhaps placing a balloon over particularly rough patches or maneuvering the balloons in such a manner as to keep the art crisp and sharp, especially in wordless panels, like when T’Challa retrieves the – – well, that would be a major spoiler. Just know that Eliopoulos curates the final imagery quite nicely, respecting the work from Ribic and Svorcina.
As for the Spidey-specific update, this issue gives readers a quartet of pages with a pair of Spider-Men. The cut-to line in the transition comes from Reed Richards, who says: ” I’ve got my best people working on it.” Those best people? Peter Parker and Miles Morales, who are as comfortable with one another as can be. Their banter provides a nice uptick in this issue, and the discovery they make (no, not the hamburger in Miles’ pocket) is arguably the biggest catalyst affecting this series’ direction yet. Hickman has a knack for characters integral to the Fantastic Four corner of the Marvel Universe, and I have always found his occassional dabbling with Spidey quite enjoyable.
Secret Wars #6 is definitely the turning point in the series, given the scope of the reveals made here. Hickman, Ribic, Svorcina, and Eliopoulos give readers another satisfying issue with a significant amount of imagination and creativity offered up. I did not see the final reveal in this issue coming, nor did I suspect half of the other trio of “major” developments in this issue, but they’re here, and this story is about to take another exciting twist. With all of the pieces on the board (barring another surprise or three from Hickman) Secret Wars is about to get real interesting.