Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Secret Wars #12 (Apr. 1984)

Purchase price: $1

Wow.  The bright pink cover really stands out doesn’t it?  Not necessarily in a good way either.

Like the previously reviewed Super Powers by DC, Secret Wars was Marvel’s way of promoting a Mattel toy line of the same name. A key difference between Super Powers and Secret Wars was Marvel integrated points of the series into their overall continuity, whereas Super Powers seemed to happen totally outside of the normal DC universe.  Spider-Man getting a black alien costume that eventually evolved into Venom is the most famous example of Secret Wars extending beyond the original mini-series.   As someone who started collecting comics around the time Secret Wars was published, this title has always had an odd allure for me.  I was even one of the suckers who bought Secret Wars II and many of the crossover titles, much as I hate to admit it.  I’ve always wanted to read the original series but the reprint books are pricey and scarce; original copies aren’t much better.

“…Nothing to Fear…” is the 12th and final issue of the Secret Wars mini-series, written by Jim Shooter with art by Mike Zeck.  Since its intended purpose was to sell toys there is definitely a “beginner level” vibe to the story and character interaction here, which makes it rather dull and frustrating for a lifelong comic reader.  The whole concept of the series (apart from selling toys) had Earth’s mightiest heroes being transported to “Battle Planet” by the mysterious Beyonder, who pits them against Earth’s mightiest villains for a multi-issue battle royale.  Why would someone do that, you ask; entertainment, experiment, just because?  No one really knows, but there was an awful lot of fight scenes and what more would one want from a comic book.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t read the previous 11 issues so I don’t see the overall storyline, maybe I’m not the target audience for the story or maybe Secret Wars just sucks, but I couldn’t get in to this story at all and that disappointed me, to say the least.  I have honestly wanted to read Secret Wars for a couple years now fully accepting it was not going to be a literary classic, or even a ground breaking comic book story.  I was hoping for a good old fashioned action comic with all of the characters I’ve been following for so many years. Instead I found myself bored with the story and disinterested with the unrecognizable characters.  Mike Zeck has produced some very cool covers over the years, but his art in this issue was lacking at best and didn’t enhance the lackluster story.  Why was Secret Wars such a best- selling series?  I sure couldn’t explain it based on this issue.

As a side-note, I do own many of the Secret Wars toys, which I bought when they came out and I have to say I think the Kenner Super Powers toys were superior.  Each of the Secret Wars toys seemed like the exact same figure with slight differences.  Iron Man was the best with Magneto probably being the worst.  Each of the characters carried a shield that switched pictures when you tilted it, which seems totally dumb, since only Captain America carries a shield, and it looks nothing like the ones that came with the Secret Wars toys.

Notable Ad:  I’m so bummed about how bad Secret Wars was that I can’t even think of any jokes to make about the lame ads in this issue.


2 comments on “Secret Wars #12 (Apr. 1984)

  1. I really think that the two main reasons why Secret Wars was such a best-seller are 1) it had so many of Marvel’s biggest characters in it and 2) Mike Zeck’s artwork was absolutely incredible. It seems quite clear that the series was targeted to younger readers. When I was a kid, the handful of issues that I did manage to get my hands on seemed really exciting. About a decade and a half after it was published, I finally had managed to collect the entire 12 issues. I then made the mistake of trying to sit down and read it all in one sitting. I literally dozed off somewere around around the fifth or sixth issue. But, anyway, I think Secret Wars works in small doses and, like I said, Zeck’s art is amazing.

    • bargaincomicreviews
      February 21, 2013

      Secret Wars did seem like a monumental event at the time. I started collecting just as it was ending and was totally confused by the black costumed Spider-man. There was a ton of hype and excitement about Secret Wars II when Marvel unleashed that disaster and its myriad of crossovers on the comic reading world (yes, I bought them all). The original Secret Wars clearly does not hold up over time, and one could reasonably argue the best thing to come out of it was the black costume/Venom (apart from the cash infusion to Marvel). I think Mike Zeck has done some incredible covers over the years, but I was never all that impressed with his interior work.

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2012 by in Comic Book Review, Comics, Marvel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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