Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Secret Wars #3
It's a brave new world folks. People don't usually say that unless it's an election year or the next big announcement from Apple. Anyone who said that after Secret Wars #1 was probably on the greatest acid trip since the last Grateful Dead concert because it's not just one world anymore. It's many worlds that now constitute Battleworld, which is now the de-facto Marvel universe. It's a world run by Dr. Doom, who is now packing the kind of power that would give Rupert Murdoch multiple orgasms just by thinking about it. We've seen the creation of Battleworld. We've gotten some insight into how this clusterfuck of a Marvel universe works. And with few exceptions, it's pretty damn awesome. How could a world that's policed by a Thor Corps not be interesting on some levels?
Well just establishing Battleworld was the first step. Now the real challenge will be making people give enough of a fuck about it to see the remnants of the Marvel Universe pull it together. There aren't many survivors from the previous Marvel universe. There aren't many who can hope to stand a chance against an overpowered Dr. Doom. So how will this hodgepodge of Marvel Universes that essentially functions as an orgy of diverging timelines come together? Secret Wars #3 is supposed to kickstart that process.
It’s a process that’s way behind the curve because Dr. Doom has a pretty firm grip on Battleworld. It’s the kind of grip that Apple only dreams of having on the smartphone market. But he still busies himself with the bureaucracy of Battleworld, which I guess makes him the kind of god that likes to document the sordid affairs of his worshippers. Anybody who likes to jerk off in the dark is still screwed. But while chatting with his top bureaucrat in Dr. Strange, he reveals something pretty damning, if that’s not too fitting a term.
Like Doom, Dr. Strange remembers how Battleworld was created. Every other Doom-loving denizen may think the world has always been like this the same way Kirk Cameron believes homosexuality has always been a sin. But Dr. Strange was with Doom when the world ended and Battleworld was created. And Doom knows this too. It’s the first real connection with the former Marvel universe and it’s an important one. It establishes that when it comes to playing god, Dr. Doom is more equipped than most. He already sees himself as a god that deserves to be worshipped. Becoming an actual god just isn’t much of a stretch for him. In that context, Dr. Strange comes off as lazy. However, he does make clear that he wants to preserve what they were able to save. If that means letting Doom be god, that’s a price he’s willing to pay. I’d still say he got ripped off. Then again, if the choice is between getting ripped off and oblivion, I’d say it’s worth the hit to his credit score.
Dr. Strange might not like letting Doom be god in this clusterfuck of a world, but he understands that he’s in a world where a person contemplating life without Doom is like a person contemplating life without internet. Nobody would even dare contemplate such horrors. Then, he gets a break of sorts. One of the cosmic life rafts that escaped the final incursion in Secret Wars #1 finally turns up. Dr. Strange and the Thor Corps go to investigate and Dr. Strange confirms something that helps re-inflate his collapsed scrotum. It’s not from this world.
So now there may actually be someone in Battleworld who understands that there’s something fucked up about Doom being god. He’ll no longer be that crazy street preacher with a tin foil hat claiming that the world is crazy and he’s the only one who knows the truth. He’ll have others to share that tin foil hat. It may not be much against a god-powered Doom, but anyone who has heard fucked up conspiracy theories about lizard people and JFK understand there’s strength in groups.
Dr. Strange sends most of the Thor Corps away to report this to Doom, if only to keep them from laughing their asses off when he tells them about a world where Doom was just a douche-bag dictator from some no-name country. One stays with him, but he makes sure he doesn’t lose his shit when he opens the cosmic life raft. The good news is there is someone inside. The bad news is he has as much chance against fighting Dr. Doom as I do arm-wrestling the Rock. It’s Miles Morales from the now-defunct world of Ultimate Marvel.
Ignoring for a moment how Ultimate is just as fucked as Battleworld, this intrigues Dr. Strange because Miles reveals that he remembers. And for Dr. Strange, this is an important breakthrough. I’m sure he would’ve preferred if someone like Sentry or She-Hulk had survived, but I guess he’ll take what he can get at this point. In a world where Dr. Doom god, he just can afford to be picky.
He can also afford to have Sue Storm as his consort. While most would’ve gone with an army of Emma Frost and Black Widow clones, I don’t think anyone could fault Doom for his tastes. And unlike any other women that Dr. Doom could choose to be perpetual eye-candy, he has an actual rapport with Sue. They’re able to have conversations that don’t just involve how Doom is the greatest being in existence or how his penis can cure cancer and give salvation. There are plenty of other cult leaders who do that shit anyways.
With Sue, Doom has a pretty telling exchange. He doesn’t flex his godly muscle to help moisten her panties like most men would in that position. Instead, their exchange reveals a few other interesting tidbits about Battleworld, such as how Jonny Storm rebelled against Doom. Naturally, it didn’t end well. He was basically a match trying to melt the planet Hoth. What’s so telling is that Sue didn’t object to Doom’s punishment, but she did so while still acknowledging her love for her brother. It shows that despite being Doom’s personal arm candy, she’s still Sue.
At the same time, Doom also reveals that he’s still the same Doom who was in a never-ending dick-measuring contest with Reed Richards. He does something that the Catholic Church shudders in their robes. He concedes he might not be completely infallible. He says he is Battleworld’s greatest flaw. That would be like the Pope saying he’s the world’s greatest sinner. He may be a god, but he still can’t make his face look less appealing than cockroaches anus. It’s a powerful moment that shows that Doom may be a douchebag, but he’s not without perspective. That’s something most wannabe gods don’t have.
Doom’s infallibility is important to establish because it means he might not be the kind of god that knows when someone is trying to screw him over. And as it turns out, Dr. Strange has been working on that for quite a while now. He takes Miles to the Hidden Isle of Agamotto where he reveals that his balls are a bit bigger than we thought. He already found the other cosmic life raft from 616. And when he opens it, he finds a more complete stock of heroes that don’t need to be convinced that Doom is an asshole. This includes Captain Marvel, Thor, Starlord, and Spider-Man. It’s not a team of pro-bowlers, but it’s not the Oakland Raiders practice squad either.
There’s a somewhat awkward conversation that’s a bit muted. As far as these characters are concerned, they just watched their world get fucked up in the final incursion. And Reed watched his whole family get tossed into the cosmic shit storm. None of them are in a good state to say the least. However, they do have plenty to offer. Cyclops is still the Phoenix, courtesy of the Phoenix Egg. Thor is still Jane Foster. And they have a Spider-Man that is used to dealing with evil gods and making shitty deals. Okay, so maybe they’re not as equipped as Dr. Strange would prefer.
It’s still a powerful moment, especially for Reed Richards. He’s pretty much the only one who shows a significant level of emotion here. And he damn well should. As far as he’s concerned, he just watched his whole family die. If only he knew how much the Marvel/Disney lawyers jerk off to screwing over Fox properties, he would be even more disgusted. But his emotions do give weight to a scene that is already morbidly obese with revelations.
Nobody can hide their reactions when they find out that they’re now in a world where Doom is god. I’m pretty sure they would’ve preferred anything, up to and including the maids who have to clean Tony Stark’s mansion after a bachelor party, than crashing in a world where Doom was a god. They also don’t appreciate that they were basically kept in limbo for years, not knowing just how fucked the world had become. It is still a dick move on Dr. Strange’s part, but it’s not as egregious as it could’ve been. He didn’t spray paint dicks on their ship or something. However, he does concede something that’s telling. He says that as fucked as this world is, Doom does a good job of holding it together. Even for those who didn’t just watch their world end, that’s still a pretty fucked up claim to make.
The survivors of 616 are going to need some time to stop shitting themselves in outrage. For the remaining survivors of the other ship from Ultimate, they probably finished that a long time ago. Ultimate Reed, Thanos, Lady Death, and a few other assholes from various corners of the Marvel multiverse are just trying to hang in there in this world where fighting their enemies is a lot more complicated. They probably don’t like living in a world where Doom has won by default any more than the others. They don’t really say much, other than how fucked they are. But they don’t give the impression that they’re content living in a world where Doom is god and they can’t fuck anyone’s shit up without his divine sanction.
That’s actually pretty convenient because Doom feels the exact same way. He’d rather they not live in Battleworld either if they’re just going to whine about the world they lost. But unlike them, Doom has an army of Thors who are more than happy to put them out of their misery. It’s probably the first time Thanos and Lady Death have been underdogs. They’re no Mighty Ducks, but I still have a hard time rooting for them. At the very least, they give Doom another divine headache to deal with. And since he admitted outright that he’s not infallible, he’s bound to get divinely pissed soon enough.
After the first two issues of this cosmic clusterfuck, it's abundantly clear just how badly the Marvel universe has screwed itself. Any effort that ends with Dr. Doom becoming a god deserves to be labeled a failure that even Richard Nixon would scoff at. But after this issue, we finally get some insight into how the Marvel universe is going to unfuck itself. We finally find out what happened to the survivors aboard the cosmic life raft. They're still pretty fucked, but they're ready to give even a god-powered Dr. Doom a cosmic middle finger.
This issue was dense in details, but not in a way that felt like a summer reading assignment. Jonathan Hickman is actually making a concerted effort to give detail and depth to the characters and the conflict. We may roll our eyes at the people who count the number of seeds on the bun of a big mac, but these are the kinds of people we want doing our taxes and performing brain surgery. In that sense, the prognosis for Secret Wars is pretty damn good. I give Secret Wars #3 a 9 out of 10. Dr. Doom is about to find out that even gods can get annoyed. Just wait until his worshipers start praying to him for a bigger dick or more money. Nuff said!