Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Crabby Marathon! Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Battleworld Box Set, Part Two: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars

 The granddaddy of the modern-day epic crossover....How does it hold up over thirty years later?



  It actually reads today pretty much the same way it did back in 1984: It's hardly a deathless piece of modern literature, but for a 300+ page epic that was created to sell horrible toys, it's a lot better than you would expect.

 In MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS: TO BATTLEWORLD AND BACK
we saw the various heroes of The Marvel Universe transported to Battleworld, and the aftermath of their return to Earth. In MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS, we see what happened during the week that they were missing. Taken to Battleworld by The Beyonder, a mysterious being of immense power, the heroes, and their villainous counterparts, are commanded to "..slay your enemies, and all you desire shall be yours!" The bulk of the 12 issues collected here show both sides trying to survive the hostile patchwork planet they have been deposited on and their enemies.

 As I said, this isn't high art, but I was surprised by how enjoyable it was, in it's own dopey way. Writer Jim Shooter does a great job of keeping everyone acting and speaking in character, which must not have been an easy task. The Storyline is incredibly dragged-out, but it picks up steam as it goes on. The character and motivation of The Beyonder himself is pretty thin, but Shooter would more than make up for that shortcoming in MARVEL SUPERHEROES SECRET WARS II.

 The art is ostensibly provided by Mike Zeck and John  Beatty, but there are a few fill-in issues illustrated by Bob Layton, and as the series goes on the art gets ghosted by a number of unnamed artists. I was able to recognize John Romita, Art Adams, Butch Guice, and Ron Frenz without looking too hard; I'm sure there were a lot more that I couldn't quite pin down. The book has no supplemental material, but I'm hoping some of this artistic turmoil will be addressed in the Behind-the-scenes volume that was included with the box set.

Overall, this was a better read than I remembered it being, mostly due to Shooter's spot-on characterization, and the interesting interplay between the various heroes and villains. Not a great book, by any means, but better than a lot of modern books that I've read lately.