While I’m sure there were either crossover, limited series events before Secret Wars arrived on the scene, Secret Wars was the one published at the height of my love of comic books and one that featured one huge development in the life of my favorite super hero. Yes, I’m referring to Spider-Man getting his infamous black suit, an event that set off twenty years of new continuity for my favorite (then and now) super hero.
Interestingly, the whole black suit thing takes up less than five minutes of this audio adaptation of the entire saga, somehow feeling less monumental than I recall it being in the initial wave of comics. Or it could just be that we had to wait EIGHT issues into the storyline to see Spidey get his new duds. Or it could also be that there are twenty years of spin-off storylines from that one single event that it pales in comparison to what was to come — namely Venom and a whole lot of other symbiotic baddies that would menace our hero.
Secret Wars begins with the kidnapping of various Marvel heroes and villains. Sent to a strange far-off place called BattleWorld, the heroes and villains are promised their fondest wish if they will battle each other until only is left standing. This promise is made by a mysterious creature known only as the Beyonder. Interestingly, the hero team isn’t exactly the most unified for much of the storyline with various hero teams not trusting each other — the Avengers don’t have much love for the X-Men because Magneto has, for some reason, been lumped in with the heroic side of things instead of being with the various baddies that include Doctor Doom, Doc Ock and others.
There are a couple of battles along the way and the news that entire city of Denver has been taken to BattleWorld as well. This leads to the creation of two new female villains, one of whom becomes the love interest of the Molecule Man. Interestingly, it’s Molecule Man who Dr Dooms sees as the lynch pin to taking over BattleWorld and wresting the Beyonder’s power for his own.
It has been a long time since I read the original Secret Wars storyline. Back in the day, I didn’t have regular access to a comic book store so I was at the mercy of finding issues on rack at my local store and to my limited funds. So I can say that I’ve forgotten large chunks of this story or not read them, instead depending on the recaps in the issues I could find and purchase to help me keep up with the story. Or more likely, I was kept in the loop by friends who also liked comic books and had the issues I didn’t at the time. I do recall having issue eight of the series because, again, it had a Spider-Man centric cover and it was about his new costume.
I recently picked up a free reprint of issue one on October’s Free Comic Book day and found it a nice trip down nostalgia lane. I understand Marvel is looking to re-visit the Secret Wars concept later this year with a crossover event.
So when I saw the Graphic Audio version of the story, I decided to give it a try. And, for the most part, it works fairly well. The adaptation focuses on a hero or a villain in each section, taking us inside their mind and thought process as well as their reaction to BattleWorld. And with this large a cast of characters, the linking narration is essential to recalling who is speaking at various points. The narration is a nice reminder without necessarily being intrusive.
The limitations of the story come when there are huge battles and we’re limited to the narration and various grunts and groans by the characters. It comes across as less than compelling and may be one reason a ten issue comic book series can be condensed down to six or so hours in the audio world.
In a way, this reminded me of the Power Records that I listened to and loved in my younger days. Only this time we didn’t get the comic book included. Listening to this, I’m curious to visit the original mini-series again in the original comic book format. I figure with this year’s big return to the concept that Marvel will make the original version available to readers to see where it all started.