This week’s Four Color Bullet covers Marvel’s Secret Wars #9 and one of the wierder crossovers we’ve seen in a while. Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are not exactly the first thing you think of when you hear the word “teamup.”
Battleworld comes a-crashin’ down
The entire Secret Wars event is the culmination of writer Jonathan Hickman’s multiverse-spanning Avengers run. Heck, if you wanted to, you could even take it as far back as his time on Fantastic Four. Secret Wars #9 is the end of that run, and the final chapter of everything he’s been working toward. It’s easy to become frustrated with the delays and the other snafus that have plagued the series, and this issue in particular. But it’s also just as easy to overlook it if you stop and think that Marvel allowed artist Esad Ribic time to do the art himself, rather than bringing a fill-in artist to give the book fill-in art, which, in my opinion, distracts the reader, and can take away from the enjoyment.
Aside from being a no-holds-barred, epic struggle between two godlike beings, this final issue finds a lot of its strength in its intimacy. At the end of it all, this whole thing is about Reed Richards and his last-gasp attempt to save the universe from Doom’s reign, and save his family in the process. Jonathan Hickman is one of the best narrators of the Reed/Doom relationship, and here, we see God-Emperor Doom become scared, refuse-to-be-second, pathological Victor Von Doom.
And never really a Black Panther fan, at least not a die hard one, Hickman’s handling of him here has changed my mind. T’Challa has become one of my favorite characters. From taking on Doom with his own cosmic arsenal, to his treatment of legacy after it all dies down, Black Panther became noteworthy.
So. For me, Secret Wars counts as one of Marvel’s best events, and Secret Wars #9 brings the whole thing home in a close-to-perfect ending. It will bring Marvel readers some changes. Some we’ve seen already because of the delays, and not all of them are as important as others. It will be akin to visiting the house you grew up in as a kid and it has the same feel, but maybe the wallpaper is different, and someone finally fixed that squeaky gate. It’s rare that we see an event title maintain high quality throughout, but Secret Wars kept it going, and if you’ve been keeping up with it, Secret Wars #9 will satisfy you.
Heroes in a half-shell … and a Batmobile
Man. Where to start. If you are a fan of either Batman or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or both, this is required reading. Honestly, the story isn’t all that important. Seriously. Not to knock writer James Tynion IV’s story, because there is one, and it’s good, and there’s even a huge plot twist that puts a ticking bomb on the backs of our mutated teenage ninjas, but the fascination of this issue comes from the slobberknocker between the Caped Crusader and the Turtles. Tynion writes it brilliantly, giving each character the necessary voice, and allowing each side to one-up the other. Batman’s a detective. So when four reptilian burglars break in to a tech lab, he goes to investigate. I mean, he already fights a 10-foot tall crocodile man. Who knows what four humanoid turtles are capable of, right?
And when the fight breaks out, everyone is treated appropriately. Batman wants answers. Master Splinter is philosophical. Raphael thinks he’s a jerk. Leonardo is humbled by Batman’s prowess. Donatello is calculating in his efforts to take him down. Michelangelo thinks he’s the coolest thing ever.
That said, even if you’re a fanboy drooling at the interactions between both sides, like I said, there’s still a story, and in addition to the Turtles being in Gotham, Shredder and the Foot Clan are also in town, and Shred-Head’s making waves in the underworld, and his meeting with the Penguin is crazy good. Freddie Williams II delivers some gorgeous art that makes every scene stand out. From Shredder’s imposing bulk striding on the wharf to meet the Penguin, to that last awesome scene at the end.
Everyone had reasonably high expectations that this crossover would be good. And it is. Tynion and Williams work great together and produce a really good issue with the necessary humor, but a very serious story. Tynion is weaving plot threads into a story that can’t be good for our heroes, but is definitely good for us comics fans.