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  1. #1
    S.P.E.C.T.R.E. destro's Avatar
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    Default Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars

    In advance, I realize that the majority of you on the classics board are noy fans of Secret Wars. But I haven't seen a serious discussion of these series here, so I figured I should start one.

    For the purpose of this conversation let us limit this to I and II, since Marvel has used the name a few other times since then.

    I was eight years old in 1984 when the 1st issue came out. Up to this point I was mainly reading Amazing Spider-Man with an occasional Avengers. I was only able to get 1 or 2 comics a month. I was vaguely aware that there were other heroes and that they existed in the same universe but I knew very little of them.

    I bought Secret Wars I issue 1 at a 7-11 because I recognized Spider-Man, Hulk and some Avengers that I knew like Cap on the cover.

    I loved it. I loved learning about all of the different heroes and that they weren't all exactly friendly with each other. Galactus! Ultron! Dr. Doom! I have never seen these characters before. I am immediately interested in them.

    I plan to continue this, maybe not dwelling on every single issue but addressing the high and low points. I am generally a fan of the 1st series. It wasn't perfect, and re-reading it as an adult I can see a lot more of the flaws. But as a kid it was incredibly entertaining, giving all of the heroes and villains a chance to shine.

    I think a lot of people hate Secret Wars for being a toy tie in, and one of the early mega crossovers that have plagued us ever since

    I'd like to hear why you disliked or liked this series. Eventually let's get into the even more hated II as well!
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  2. #2
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    Unless I have the chronology mixed up I had already stopped reading Marvel by the time Secret Wars came out, but for me it's emblematic of the creative downturn Marvel went through around the late 70s to early 80s: so in my mind it's all part and parcel with the departure of their best writers (Gerber, Englehart, etc), the introduction of pointless knock-off characters (Ms. Marvel, Spiderwoman, She-Hulk, etc), the cancellation of the best series (Tomb of Dracula, Howard the Duck, Master of Kung Fu, etc).

    I can't say what I would have thought of it if it had been the first Marvel comic I ever read at eight years of age or younger - with no comparisons to make, I might have been hooked too. But, while in other respects I'd love to be 15 years younger, I have to say that as far as comics are concerned I thank my lucky stars that when I was eight years old Marvel was producing better ones than Secret Wars.

  3. #3
    Ex-Cheeks Reptisaurus!'s Avatar
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    I was right around eight when it came out, and I quite like the first Secret Wars - The second I haven't read since IT came out, but I liked it a lot when I was ten or eleven.

    I've read the first series in the last five-or-so years, and I still think it's quite well written: Solid characterization with a "moment" for almost all of the 30-ish characters, a bunch of interesting visually oriented BIG ACTION plot beats that made some sense as a connected story, and an over-reaching plot that's not-at-all by the numbers or predictable, but still makes sense.
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  4. #4
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    I think the original series (which really was something special when it came out, as the only previous limited series of that type had been the three issue Contest of Champions which didn't really affect the rest of the line at all) was great then and still stands up well today. I was less impressed by Secret Wars II, which was basically just a meandering mess impossible to keep straight even if you were buying the entire Marvel line. Really, it was Secret Wars II that launched us on the rocky road the increasingly regular line wide crossovers later became. The original series was just a fun celebration of Marvel's best and brightest characters.

  5. #5
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    Big Fan of Secret Wars. I liked how all the heroes and villains fought against each other. I loved how the Hulk lifted that mountain, or how Dr Doom became so powerful. And the black costume, great stuff.

  6. #6

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    The first Secret Wars is an enjoyable read, but I think it had a negative impact on Marvel and the industry by helping begin the all-event, all-the-time mentality. The characterization was also wonky, something that Shooter I think was kind of known for; it had an internal consistency, but didn't necessarily have much to do with how the characters were actually acting in their own titles at the time. A fun series in a vacuum, but in context, iffy at best.

    Secret Wars II is a travesty of a sham of a mockery. It's horrible. And it just about derailed the entire MU with the terrible crossovers intruding into every title. The first Secret Wars was, you know, secret, so the "crossovers" were just characters disappearing and then reappearing with a little note that readers should see Secret Wars to find out where they went. The second series was a horrible crappy intrusion into every title the company put out, resulting in some truly awful comic books that also mangled ongoing storylines in several series. Brutally bad.
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  7. #7
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    I truly don't see how anyone can have issues with the story, itself. A simple battle royal on an alien battle planet dictated by an all powerful god that the villains ultimately try to overthrow. Throw in mistrust, betrayal, the Hulk holding an entire mountain over the heroes at one point, and Galactus just standing there, casually planning to devour the planet. Simple awesomeness, and it's also a great introduction to the Marvel Universe for new readers. I often recommend it to adolescents looking to try comics for the first time, and it's also a guilty pleasure that I return to regularly.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    The first Secret Wars is an enjoyable read, but I think it had a negative impact on Marvel and the industry by helping begin the all-event, all-the-time mentality.
    I agree with this to a large extent, except that Secret Wars did it well -- even with the forced tie-in of the alien costume in Amazing Spiderman. Still, your point is reminiscent of Alfred Nobel's regrets after creating dynamite. He never considered how much destruction such a positive invention would result in when placed in the wrong hands.

    Meanwhile, had Shooter written EVERY major event for Marvel and DC, I think the comic industry would be in a better place (and yes, feel free to roll eyes at this statement) :)

  8. #8
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    I loved it as a kid and yes it was a good introduction to the Marvel Universe - I had only read DC up to that point and SW did a good job of covering all the basics, I remember loving that opening spread with all the heroes together and it had lots of fun moments.

    But yes Secret Wars II was a pain though some writers did some interesting things with it or at least didn't let it derail what they were already planning - Stern, Claremont & Byrne all used it pretty well I thought.

    I think Marvel UK did reprints of it which is where I think I read the series, don't remember ever owning the original US issues?

  9. #9
    Marked for Redemption David Walton's Avatar
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    Secret Wars hit that sweet spot when the classic Marvel characters were well established, but there were still plenty of untapped relationships to be explored.

    Speaking as a Spider-Man fan, I was thrilled to have my cake and eat it, too. While Spidey still felt bascially mistrusted and out of his league, it was clear the other heroes had a lot of respect for his accomplishments.

    And it was a nice primer for where everyone was at the time, too. I remember reading and thinking, "Why isn't Tony Stark Iron Man?"
    "I came to the conclusion that the optimist thought everything good except the pessimist, and the pessimist thought everything bad, except himself." -- G.K. Chesterton

  10. #10
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    In Secret Wars I, my favorite part was the X-Men/non-X-Men friction (or, if we count Magneto, the intra-X-Men friction). And I thought it did a fantastic job keeping up with Banner's/Hulk's personality deteriorating, as Mantlo had established in Hulk's own title.

    My least favorite part was Kitty and Peter splitting up. I loathed that.

    And again, my personal "marvel universe" stops around the first Secret Wars, I think, with a few add-ons here and there I have to shoehorn in (like Bendis' Daredevil run, everything DeMatteis ever did with Spider-Man, the conclusion of Simonson's Thor and Jurgen's wildly experimental run with Thor as lord of Asgard, etc.).
    Last edited by Polar Bear; 11-23-2012 at 11:44 AM.
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  11. #11
    Elder Member zryson's Avatar
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    I remember hearing about Secret Wars much later. I don't remember the first series, not when it came out at any rate. I read DC. For me, DC was everything. Not entirely sure when I heard about Secret Wars? Maybe the 90s? I remember seeing some of the covers and hearing good things about how Marvel fans loved the series. The first one anyway. As for the sequel, I think I read some of it (as well as parts of the first series later on). Can't say it made much of an impression with me. Sure, it has huge battles but I always thought DC excelled at those, and after seeing the Justice League of America in action, everything sort of paled in comparison.

  12. #12
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    I was 19 when Secret Wars came out, and I was excited by the concept. But it became apparent early on that Shooter was using this story to force some editorial changes on the readers. Driving a wedge between the mutants and the other heroes. Splitting up Colossus and Kitty. New costume for Spider-man. Etc. Still, the overall story was decent, though it was odd that the villains seemed outnumbered and overpowered by the heroes. Doctor Doom was great, especially when he went up against the Beyonder. Mike Zeck wasn't a great choice for artist. He's okay, but his anatomy is a bit off, and I feel like that problem is emphasized when the characters are wearing colorful spandex costumes.

    Secret Wars II was terrible. It actually turned me against Marvel, right at a time when I was beginning to really love post-Crisis DC as well as more of the non-DC/Marvel comics.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by VDCNI View Post
    I think Marvel UK did reprints of it which is where I think I read the series, don't remember ever owning the original US issues?
    Marvel UK published 80 issues of a bi-weekly Secret Wars title from 1985-1987 which reprinted both limited series' and all the crossovers, plus some other issues that were tangentially linked to the crssover issues.

  14. #14
    Elder Member Shellhead's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I also ran the Secret Wars adventure for my friends using the Marvel Superhero Roleplaying system back then, maybe a year after the last issue came out. I gave each of my friends several heroes to run. Things played out differently from the comics. The mutants didn't split off to do their own thing. The combined group of heroes thumped badly on the villains, and one of the Wrecking Crew (maybe Piledriver) even got killed by Wolverine. I can't remember how they handled Ultron. Galactus made Captain America into a herald, who my players dubbed Captain Galactica. It was fun, but not as good a story as the original.
    "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Jake Fury's Avatar
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    This (Secret Wars I) was one of the very first comics I ever read as well. It still holds a special place in my heart and I also think it still holds up pretty well for the most part.
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