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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 8 comics last week: Amazing Spider-Man: #20.1, Action Comics #43, Batman #43, Star Trek/Green Lantern #2, Batman/Superman #23, Gotham Academy #9, Lando #2 and Secret Wars #5.
The best comic I read last week was Secret Wars #5.
I believe, last month when I selected Secret Wars #4 that, if this is Jonathan Hickman’s last mainstream superhero work for the foreseeable future, he’s going out on top. This crossover has been very compelling if only because the stakes feel very high. I will qualify that statement a bit: the stakes within this story feel very high because I am all but certain that Marvel won’t leave the character who’s death is central to this issue dead. There’s too much at stake in their other media properties (and, my comment doesn’t suggest some sort of prescience on my part: Marvel has already announced a new ongoing featuring the character) to do so.
But Hickman makes me care about the character’s death in the context of this story and that’s a very impressive feat.
At the heart of this story is Doctor Doom and, though I’ve yet to see Fantastic Four (and am less excited to do so with each passing review), I hear that, again, filmmakers did not get Doom right. That’s a shame. Maybe they should have Hickman write their screenplays. Hickman understands Doom.
One part villain, one part hero, all parts somehow noble, Doom is the reason Secret Wars is so good. His growing desperation as he tries to, literally, hold the world together is as compelling a motivation for a character as any comic book has going right now.
I have said this before: I wish Hickman would go back to writing Fantastic Four. Unlike many other writers, he completely gets what drives the characters even when most of them are off panel.
Everything is working in Secret Wars: the writing, the art (by the increasingly brilliant Esad Ribic), the scope… everything. This is the best universe-wide crossover event since Blackest Night.