Comics : Secret Wars #9

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Crossover Crisis!

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

The omnipotent Beyonder gathers Earth's greatest heroes and villains and dumps them on a planet of his own creation, commanding them to battle. The winning side gets all of their hearts' desires. He can do this, because he's the Beyonder. Doctor Doom took control of the villain team, and Captain America lead the heroes. The battle between the heroes and villains raged across the planet, until the Avengers and a group of others (Spider-Man amongst them) were able to defeat Doom's villains and imprison them all.

It's Heroes: 6, and Villains: 4, but that may change as Galactus has begun to eat the planet!

In Detail...

Secret Wars #9
Jan 1985 : SMURF 251.800 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor:  Tom DeFalco
Writer:  Jim Shooter
Pencils:  Mike Zeck
Inker:  John Beatty
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Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Secret Wars (Reprints) #9
 Reprinted In: Secret Wars (UK) #18
 Reprinted In: Secret Wars (UK) #19
 Reprinted In: Secret Wars (UK) #20
Articles: Doctor Doom, Human Torch, Spider-Woman II (Carpenter), The Wasp

This issue opens up with a terrific shot of Colossus racing out into the streets of the village he was residing in to find that Galactus' machine is consuming the planet! Colossus was tending the alien healer Zsaji (with whom he has fallen in love with) and worries for her safety. Empowered by his love for her, he rushes off to battle Galactus. Nearby, Galactus' machine operates on it's mountain perch, releasing energy as it attempts to convert the planet into a pure form of energy. The sun is blotted out by clouds as Storm attempts to slow Galactus with lightning. Unfortunately, to no avail; a little storm doesn't even phase Galactus. The X-Men marvel at Galactus' power, Magneto of course being the biggest pessimist of the group. Xavier won't be deterred, however. He promised Captain America that they would hold Galactus until the Avengers returned, and so they will!

But even the good professor knows that this fight is suicide, Cyclops realises as the X-Men charge towards Galactus. The Big G launches down a small machine to battle the X-Men (think the annoying little ball that shot out lasers in the original Star Wars). Rogue attempts to tackle the ball, but before she can even get near it the thing projects several solid walls that repel Rogue and Storm's lightning at the same time. The ball defends itself against the combined might of the rest of the X-Men, knocking out the Professor with the aforementioned laser walls. Nightcrawler is able to teleport to the ball and break it, but something goes wrong. The Professor yells out a few hurried commands, and from far off we see the ball cause a huge explosion. Hawkeye (one of the few heroes present, along with Wasp and Captain Marvel) despairs, thinking that the X-Men must surely be dead (why Hawkeye and crew weren't up there helping the X-Men instead of resting on their lazy behinds isn't explained.)

Back at the heroes' new Doombase, the Avengers and co. board one of the many alien spaceships and blast off. Reed doesn't know how long the X-Men will last, and Spidey comments "Where's the rest of the alphabet when you need them?". On the ship, the Hulk is depressed. When he gained Banner's intelligence, he lost his incredible rage. And now that he is slowly losing his intelligence, the Hulk fears he will be of no use in battle. Thor rants about how this the battle he was created to fight, and Iron Man (who is currently James Rhodes and not Tony Stark) who feels out of place as the new Iron Man swears to himself that he'll show the rest of the team that he's the best. Ben Grimm, who has been randomly flipping between the Thing and his human form for reasons unexplained, sulks around until he once again morphs into the ever loving blue eyed Thing. Spider-Man hops around, amazed at what his new suit can do. Most Spidey fans are familiar with the powers the suit provides: Organic webbing, the ability to change color and shape, stuff like that. Spider-Man doesn't fully understand why the Hulk and Thor's clothes can't do cool stuff like his to, but he doesn't lose any sleep over it.

Reed Richard ponders the imponderables while piloting the ship, wondering what the Beyonder's endgame is, why he has chosen them specifically to battle, and Galactus' inclusion in the game as he is so much more powerful than the rest of them. Reed gets caught up in thought, and overlooks the fact that he's steering the ship into a giant red energy beam being expelled by Galactus' machine. The ship is able to make a safe landing, thanks to Colossus who was able to slow it's fall. Colossus is injured but valiantly decides to follow the rest of the group anyway.

The heroes face a whole slew of annoying little laser ball things. Reed warns against trying to break the things, telling the heroes to try and get by them to destroy the world devouring machine instead. Iron Man is able to fly by the drones and damage one of the machine's drills. Reed can't believe that Iron Man was able to damage the machine. He thinks that they just might win this battle. That, however, triggers a line of thought in Reed's brain which causes him to come to the explosive conclusion that they need to stop fighting Galactus! Reed explains that because they actually have a chance to defeat Galactus, that they can't do it. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to the others, so Reed elaborates: Should Galactus win, he will wish to be rid of his hunger for planets, thus ridding the universe of a major threat. They can save billions of lives by sacrificing their own. Before the arguing can begin, Reed, Galactus and the machine all disappear, leaving our heroes without a clue as to the course of action they should take.

Reed finds himself in Galactus' world ship. He is honored to be acknowledged by Galactus. Galactus shows Reed an image of his home where his pregnant wife Sue is happy. Galactus tells Reed to listen well to what he will say next. Elsewhere, in a Doombase prison cell, Doctor Doom (who's will has been broken ever since he attempted to steal from Galactus and failed) comes to his own realisation and presses an emergency blow-open-a-three-foot-thick-steel-door button, freeing himself and leaving his cell. Doom leaves all of the other villains incarcerated, seeking only the delightfully insane Klaw, master of sound. Doom tells Klaw that he's bringing him to the lab to be dissected, to which Klaw replies 'Oh, good!'.

Colossus files through boulders and rocks, attempting to find his fallen comrades. There is a large blast, and we find that the X-Men are alive and well thanks to quick thinking from Magneto and Cyclops. All is well for the heroes back in the village. Colossus sees Zsaji running out joyfully, thinking she is coming for him. The poor guy is devastated when she runs right by him and hugs the Human Torch, who brushes her off. Cap throws out the idea of standing ready in case Galactus returns, but the Thing is adamant that they should do what Reed said and not fight. Iron Man and Grimm are about to tussle over the argument when Reed returns. He says that Galactus called him a 'force of the universe' similar to himself, that Reed was a universal champion of life just as Galactus was an instrument of death. Reed isn't sure if that means he must stop Galactus or stand aside. When Galactus's machine reappears, Captain America decides to fight and a good portion of the group follows him. Before they go, Cap commends Xavier on the good job they died holding the fort while they were gone, saying that they did a service to the universe as far as he was concerned. (Cap would make a great President; Xavier and co actually didn't do anything at all to help stop Galactus, and in fact failed miserably, but there he is thanking them for their efforts.)

Doom sees on a screen that the Beyonder has reopened his portal to watch the coming battle more closely. This somehow fits into Doom's plan, and the doctor returns to building an apparatus with pieces of Klaw (since he's made out of solidified sound, we are spared a gory look into a human stomach). Elsewhere, the Avengers again hammer at Galactus and his machine. Galactus shoots the Hulk out of the sky. Before he can kill the Hulk, Reed Richards appears and saves him. Reed has decided that he wants to see his unborn child, and is willing to fight for it. Reed takes command, sending in Rogue, Iron Man and Spidey to hammer away at Galactus. Iron Man again circles around and fires at Galactus' machine with the help of Thor and Cyclops. Reed suddenly starts yelling that they need to leave the machine alone and go after Galactus. His efforts are in vain, as Galactus suddenly flies off into the sky. Reed starts crying that they failed, because Galactus doesn't actually need the machine to eat the planet; it just makes it easier for him. Galactus is going to devour his homeworld, and then come back for them.

As Reed narrates, we see Galactus converting his ship into energy). The ship converts itself into energy. And this is where we get a look at Doom's genius plan. Using Klaw's body, Doom fashioned lenses of sound attuned to the power of Galactus' worldship (as Klaw was a part of said ship). These lenses are designed to absorb Galactus' energy and hand it over to Doom!

In General...

This issue was very good, but there are a few parts where the story and characterization are a little off. For starters, all of the action where the heroes attempt to stop Galactus was good. The part where Reed says that they must not fight Galactus is a good twist to the formula of most Galactus stories (although any segment where the heroes stop to consider that what's going on is insane is nice at this point). That said, Reed's sudden decision to fight Galactus anyway was a bad writting move, as it basically took that conflict of what to do, which was interesting, and did away with it in half a page.

Doctor Doom's scheme is cool and well thought out. It also brings him back into the game after four or so issues of Doom just sitting there being depressed. Nothing too interesting is done with Spider-Man's new suit and exploring it's capabilities.

There was a funny bit I didn't mention in the summary where Klaw notes that Doom seems to be narrating his life. he asks Doom is he's being recorded, to which Doom replies 'Why, yes! Every utterance of Doom must be recorded for posterity!'. I thought it was a funny little commentary on why Doom is always talking in third person.

On a final note, the art was terrific. We were treated to one or two splash pages (as opposed to the much larger number in the modern Marvel comic, which really takes away from the coolness) and they just looked fabulous.

Overall Rating...

Overall, this issue was fun and dramatic, and the art was great, but there were a few leaps in logic and draggy parts that took away from the overall experience.

Footnote...

It's Heroes: 6, and Villains: 7 (thanks to Galactus' three victories) with only three issues left!