The issue that, at one point, was set to draw Secret Wars to a close becomes the penultimate issue as Secret Wars #8 delivers chaos-filled chaos with a side of Armageddon and a healthy helping of surprisingly fun moments. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic give readers a throwback-sized issue with twenty-two pages of new story and a “. . .then what?!” splash-page cliffhanger that promises a doozy of a conclusion.
Hickman and Ribic, along with colorist Ive Svorcina and letterer Chris Eliopoulos remind readers that Secret Wars is an event. A grand, sweeping saga, and, as such, it should include more than a handful of characters. The first panel alone puts up eleven characters in a one-panel visual representation of the series and its crossovers.
From there, characters hit, stomp, shout, and slink their way around the battleground, adding depth and context to their Secret Wars-based personalities. No longer the Shield of Battleworld, the Thing stomps his way towards Doom’s castle, picking fights with Maestro and Galactus along the way. Yes, Galactus. Well, sort of. The scope of Secret Wars #8 is vast, sprawling like readers have come to expect from Hickman’s plans, but this adventure breaks all expectations.
Ribic has some bumpy spots, like Valeria, Sue Storm, and Black Swan’s faces all trending closely together and Ben Grimm’s eyebrows being depicted in an uncommon manner, but, per usual, his art is amazing. From a giant foot flattening a battlefield participant to Thanos’ pompousness as he confronts Doom to Sue’s measured faith weighing heavy on her brow, Ribic tells the story around and through Hickman’s words. Svorcina enhances all of that, adding temperatures to the battle while also describing depth and space. The duo continues to deliver impressive art, which accounts for the delays this title has endured. Each panel tells a story and Ribic stitches them all together masterfully.
Ribic excels at the quiet moments, but he’s no slouch when it comes to the world-breaking battles. As skeletons are ripped from combatants or guns are drawn in a high-noon homage, the artist packs energy into the story, all of which gains richer life through the stunning amount of detail in every image. And that only scratches the surface, as the artist melds nicely with the writer to tell a tale that seems to not want to end. It does have an end, or at least a pause, but not before surprising Doom (and the readers alongside him).
Among the surprises in this issue is death on both sides of the battle. Well, maybe there’s more than one side, and there are definitely more than two deaths, but there are two really big eyebrow-raising ends.
As I’ve tried to do with my previous reviews of Secret Wars, here is your Spider-Man update: Spider-Men appear in the first panel, with Reed Richards mentioning Spider-Man in particular later on. Beyond that, the story takes a wild swing around the battlefield, touching nearly every corner of the Marvel Universe before the end of Secret Wars #8.
Hickman, Ribic, Svorcina, and Eliopoulos give readers plenty to absorb in Secret Wars #8, right up to the point of helping draw focus away from the now two month deep All-New, All-Different Marvel. Once readers open the cover to this book, nothing else matters. This is the penultimate chapter in an event book that gets being an event book right.