"Secret Wars"! Still pretty good. I didn't seriously think that I'd enjoy it to this extent, but it's a story that's being told quite well. I mean . . .
I'd never seek to impugn the kills of the author Hickman, but the degree of pleasure I derive from his work has varied. Apart from that, there's still a way in which significant chunks of the tale's core concepts fail to smell too fragrant to me at first sniff, but recently Marvel has seemed to put out a fair amount of comics that are far better in execution than they'd feel in a pitch. "All-New X-Men"? The idea of a temporally displaced team from the past in the present day didn't really grab me, but the writing, done with Bendis's customary aplomb, did much to make it a favoured title for me.
My first distinct impression of Hickman came from his run on "Fantastic Four", which may have been endeared to me further by the art of Bryan Hitch. At varying levels of consciousness, his stuff still tends to remind me of his work on "The Ulimates", which was coming out around the time of my initial dive into the world of comics. It also happened to be written very well. For that matter, it also seemed like a fairly weak concept to me at the beginning, taking place in a glorified alternate universe. But the early books in that "Ultimate" universe, including Bendis's Spider-Man one upon which that reality was built, were attached to incredible creative teams. An earlier example of that kind of disparity between idea and implementation that typifies a lot of recent Marvel work for me.
That "Fantastic Four" stuff was pleasant, but his "Avengers" work, which did a lot of in the way of preparation for "Secret Wars", didn't always do much to grab me.
But now I'm feeling closer to his world again.
However, I am now becoming acutely aware of the general irrelevance of the preceding paragraphs to the point I had in mind for this entry, which concerns the depiction of Doctor Doom in the third issue of the main "Secret Wars" title. That guy tends to hide behind his iconic metal mask, claiming that his disfigured visage is too hideous to be seen by the world. A very operatic conceit. But his face has been drawn in the past. The version of his origin to which I was first introduced featured a panel of his demeanour's damage, which turned out to be nothing but a fairly rakish scar. I mean . . . Prince Zuko would feel lucky to trade blemishes with him.
But Doom's a vain one. And eccentric. He fixated on this fairly minor imperfection, which magnified it in his mind. This situation might have been exacerbated further by a basic knowledge of his responsibility for the accident that caused it, which he consciously attributes to his foe Reed Richards. In any case, this led to the acquisition of his mask, an accessory that doesn't really do much to disguise his monstrosity from others. The ones who revile him tend to do so for less superficial reasons. Instead, it can seem to serve more to hide that face from its owner.
But Hickman's new series features a sequence in which Doom exposes himself after a lament about the apparent inability of his new cosmic powers to fix his mangled form. In fairness, what he reveals in this scene does look quite horrific.
But this is a guy who's become close enough to omnipotence to rebuild a universe. Is he really unable to restore himself? Or was the cocktail of vanity, insanity, insecurity, and the recent infusion of extra magical might potent enough to cause the unconscious manifestation of the face he feared?
Best Face? Ron Wood.