Friday, December 27, 2013

Remember When.......Marvel's Secret Wars

In this first installment of Remember When, I am going back to 1984 and the birth of the Event Comic.  This was a comic book that worked to get the non readers into reading comic books, at least in my case.  This was a crazy idea to sell toys.  Mattel approached Marvel Comics then Editor, Jim Shooter, to create a comic to sell toys; that's it, that simple.  This was a 12 issue toy catalog.  But in my eyes, it was AWESOME!!  Here you have a story combining the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Galactus, Doctor Doom, and a bunch of other villains into one big story.

The story goes that an all powerful entity wanted to pit the mightiest heroes and villains against each other to see who would be victorious.  He create a world; Battleworld; from pieces of hundreds of different planets.  The heroes and villains were transported from Earth in two separate vehicles to this Battleworld.  What this story also did, other than sell toys, was introduce new readers to a wealth of knowledge to the Marvel Universe and its characters.  The Avengers stayed together and made a formidable team, the X-Men felt that they were going to be judged as they were on Earth and separated themselves from the other heroes.  The villains had similar occurrences.  Doctor Doom thought he was above all the other villains and left on his own to figure how to take the power of this powerful being that brought them there, who we later find out is known as the Beyonder.  Also, Galactus being Galactus, must feed, so he begins assembling his world eating machinery to start to feed on the planet.

The Marvel Universe being what it is, shows us more of the faults that make their characters so intriguing.  The Fantastic Four are transported to the planet, missing the Invisible Woman, thus creating a longing for her from her husband, Reed Richards.  Iron Man was not Tony Stark at the time, but his best friend, Jim Rhodes, in the suit.  The Hulk realizes at this point in time, he is at a weakened state, but the loss of that gave him the intellect of Bruce Banner.  Ben Grimm finds out that he can change from the rocky exterior of the Thing to his normal human self, so he starts to have longings to stay behind since he can be human and not the monster he is seen as on Earth.  All of these things give a more human side to the characters.

Of course, we have battles here, and what is better than page upon page of numbers of heroes and villains fighting together.  After one such battle, Spider-Man's costume is badly damaged.  While wondering about the heroes base, he came upon a lab.  Here he found a machine that would create a new suit for him.  Little did he know that his new black costume would in turn become one of his greatest foes....Venom.

As I said, this was a comic series that truly captured my imagination and gave me a great cross section of the Marvel Universe.  It became a treasure hunt for me at comic conventions to find all twelve issues.  I also remember Marvel released a role-playing game through TSR (same guys who brought you D&D) and had a supplement for Secret Wars.  Everything about this comic was fun, something that is so badly missed from a lot of the comics released today.  Sure, I am still reading, but there is something about this series, that I still treasure to this day as one of my absolute favorite memories of comics.  Go out there, buy the trade, or if you are more adventurous, go to a con, and search out the issues.  The are great fun......that is until Secret Wars II.....but that is another story.  This is a story that I will definitely be revisisting, possibly going issue by issue and breaking down how good, and bad, it is.


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