Secret Wars has a big premise, as it is brings the two major universes (616 and Ultimate) to an end with an all out battle between the two for survival. And while the first issue doesn’t give us a huge amount of this battle, by no means are the stakes small.
Throughout Hickmans run on Avengers, he has been building to this with everything that he has done and accomplished which has really paid off as going into this event the story is clear and the motivations of both sides is also obvious. The book goes straight into the arrival of the Ultimate universe’s fleet into New York on the 616 where their met with huge resistance from the Heroes of that world- and we do get some good scenes of the Hulk smashing down some carriers, the Gaurdians of the Galaxy trying to help out and Thor/Storm trying to bring down some of the encroaching forces. While these scenes are short and not very frequent when they appear they really give you the enormity of the scale that this battle could take, and that only helps to add to the sense of excitement.
Alongside the action we get to see the real story Hickman has been building- and that’s how the 616 plan on surviving- as they try to launch the life boat full of humanities best people. However things don’t go as planned as the Black Widow and Spider-Woman piloted ship gets blasted out of the sky and Mr Fantastic has to change the plan and collect the second best sample of people remaining. This choice of heroes is odd as we see Starlord collected amongst others. However the real moment of horror and shock this issue is when the life boat gets hit and splinters leaving Susan Storm and the children stranded with only Mr Fantastic able to save them. However when he tries he fails and we see them perish (possibly??) which is something I wasnt expecting, as a big death this early really could spell the end for everyone.
The story on this book moves fast as there appears to be a lot to cover, however despite this speed it never feels disjointed or rushed and that’s in no small part due to the amount of time Hickman took building this over the last few years meaning we know everyones motivations and reasons for the incursion and battle. The story does move along nicely and sets up threads to be seen later- such as the Thanos and Ultimate Mr Fantastic alliance admitting their lying to their world to try to save themselves, although with the Cabal surely this was expected. Overall the story in this book is good, and is well worth reading even if you don’t know the 44issues of back story from the Avengers alone that has built to this.
The artwork is also really well done as it truly portrays the scale of the battle and the emotions of the individuals involved as it needs too, without ever distracting from the story being told. Overall this book is fun, bold and a great start to the event- you need to be reading this right now!