As someone who has spent far too much time around comics on sale, I often see this one labeled as ‘the 1st appearance of super-popular future movie star, Venom!’  In a way, that’s true, but there’s perhaps a little context one needs to know…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 awaits!

MARVEL SUPER-HEROES SECRET WARS #8

Writer: Jim Shooter
Penciler: Mike Zeck
Inker: John Beatty, Jack Abel, Mike Esposito
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Tom DeFalco
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 75 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $60.00

Previously in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars: The appearance of a strange arena in Central Park attracted the attention of the heroes of the Marvel Universe: Spider-Man, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four and The X-Men all entered the structure, only to find themselves teleported away from New York and into a strange alien battlefield.  Worse still, their greatest foes (including GALACTUS, which is more than a little terrifying) were likewise imprisoned and ordered to fight it out by a mysterious creature called The Beyonder.  And then, at the height of the chaos and tumult, the most lasting change of the entire exercise came when Spider-Man changed clothes!

No, seriously…

Upon arrival on Battleworld, the assembled superhumans split into three factions: The heroic side, the villainous side, and The X-Men and Magneto, who chose to stand aside from the other two thanks to their status as mutants.  (As an aside, this is actually one of the earliest and most noteworthy times that the X-Men were textually treated as separate and distinct from “super-heroes”, which eventually led to the current X-Men status quo.)  The heroes are striking out to avenge the death of one of their own, The Wasp, at the hands of the evil faction last issue, and the loss of another Avenger, She-Hulk, whose current situation is dire…

A seven-on-one battle serves three purposes here: One, it establishes that the villains are willing to do whatever is necessary to win their freedom, serving The Beyonder’s purpose of studying morality.  Second, it forces the heroes’ hand, as they’ve tried to avoid direct confrontation with the other side so far in the Beyonder’s sick game.  (The icky third reason is that Jim Shooter comics often use violence against helpless foes, particularly women, for dramatic effect, but that’s sort of beyond the purview of this feature.)  The heroic faction invades the villain stronghold, walking straight into an ambush, but quickly show that their reticence to engage in war games isn’t due to a lack of skill or power…

Iron Man quickly dispatches The Wrecker, while Captain Marvel flies ahead to find She-Hulk, leaving their friends to fight off the brute force of The Wrecking Crew, Titania, Absorbing Man and Doctor Octopus.  Thankfully, the still have Thor, The Hulk and The Thing on their…

Oh, darn…

A suddenly powerless Thing is forced to scramble away from the fight, leaving Spider-Woman to finish Absorbing Man with a headshot from his own  weapon.  Not far away, Hawkeye, having expended all his most powerful arrows, is forced to make due with the traditional pointy type, which doesn’t impress the super-strong and ridiculously stupid Piledriver…

A lot of Secret Wars feels like it’s designed to answer questions about the heroes of the Marvel Universe:  Does it matter who’s in the Iron Man suit?  Are the X-Men truly super-heroes?  What right does Hawkeye have to be an Avenger?  As we see here, he’s capable in a fight with a superhuman with only his traditional weapon (which, to be fair, has a FIVE-HUNDRED POUND draw weight, which would legitimately hit harder than a bullet.)  And one other question: Why do the other heroes hold up Spider-Man as their gold standard?

This issue (and frankly, the whole series) gives Peter Parker a spotlight, showcasing his skills against the more-powerful villains and actually single-handedly defeating The X-Men when they threatened him.  Faced with Titania, whose strength dwarfs his, Spidey uses his full strength, agility and his greatest weapon of all: His battlefield banter!

The flames of The Human Torch take down Ultron, and while The Hulk falls to The Enchantress’ wiles, Captain America defeats the Asgardian with a shieldinnaface attack.  Cap discovers Doctor Doom completely unresponsive after his battle with Galactus, and She-Hulk is recovered and placed in a regenerative device, saving her life.  With the villains finally defeated, the heroes regroup to deal with their losses…

But Captain Marvel and Hawkeye are thrilled to discover that things aren’t as dire as they’ve seemed, as the dead Wasp is once again up and about!

The reason involves an alien healer named Zsaji, whose main narrative purpose is to make Colossus doubt his love for Kitty Pryde upon returning to Earth, but who made sure that a founding Avenger wasn’t a casualty before she died.  (Heroic sacrifice for love is another recurring Shooter device.)  As the heroes deal with their wounds, we get some really intriguing character interactions, which are the main reason to read this entire book, honestly.  James Rhodes turns to Reed Richards for repairs on his Iron Man armor, leading to an exchange that is at once awkward and admirable…

There’s also some bonding time for Thor and The Hulk (who is currently possessed of the intellect of Bruce Banner, but a little angrier, as this entire miniseries takes place over the space of a week during the leadup to Hulk #300, where all Hulk breaks loose), which gives us the moment we’ve all been waiting for!

In my estimation, this is the biggest error of Secret Wars from the Spider-Man perspective, in that we met the new Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter) a few issues earlier, wearing a stark black and white spider uniform that looks great, but makes it feel like Spider-Man, in-universe, is biting her style.  Kim Kardashian would have her husband write a diss track if this happened in 2017, is all I’m sayin’…

That first panel also underlines perhaps the greatest flaw of this issue: Because Marvel’s licensing deals mean that Secret Wars HAD to ship on time, which lead to multiple hands on inks, and what feels like some rushed artwork on occasion.  Spider-Man looks a little bloopy to me, which is disappointing, given how cool the black suit looks under the right artists’ pens.  Still, Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 has its merits, most of which lie in the novelty of seeing this kind of story in its infancy and Zeck’s dynamic layouts, leaving us with a better-than-average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  If you’re looking for long-term consequences, it may not be the book for you, and much of the negativity of modern Event Storytelling sprouts from this soil, but it’s a fun read nonetheless, even if it’s not the first appearance of Venom…

As someone who has spent far too much time around comics on sale, I often see this one labeled as 'the 1st appearance of super-popular future movie star, Venom!'  In a way, that's true, but there's perhaps a little context one needs to know...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 awaits! MARVEL SUPER-HEROES SECRET WARS #8 Writer: Jim Shooter Penciler: Mike Zeck Inker: John Beatty, Jack Abel, Mike Esposito Colorist: Christie Scheele Letterer: Joe Rosen Editor: Tom DeFalco Publisher: Marvel Comics Cover Price: 75 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $60.00 Previously in Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars:…
A lot of moving parts, but some great stuff to be had in these pages, and some fun character bits. It's NOT the first appearance of Venom, though...

MARVEL SUPER-HEROES SECRET WARS #8

Writing
Art
Coloring

A lot of moving parts, but some great stuff to be had in these pages, and some fun character bits. It's NOT the first appearance of Venom, though...

User Rating: 2.9 ( 1 votes)

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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2 Comments

  1. June 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm — Reply

    I’ve told this many times, but this cross over is the first I’ve read and also one of the first super hero comics I read back in the day. Didn’t know half of the characters, especially from villain side, but it wasn’t a hindrance, only made me for curious who these people were. I think creators are way too concerned with “introducing” everyone and reintroducing them two years later. If 7 year old me was curious and smart enough to figure it out, kids today are too. Don’t underestimate your readers, just tell good stories and they’ll stick around.

    • June 18, 2017 at 6:58 pm — Reply

      Agreed. I fell into comics around the time of Secret Wars and Crisis On Infinite Earths, and was never confused or frightened by all of the characters. I wanted to know more about the cool ones…

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