In Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld #1, readers are transported back to a classic story — one with Spider-Man, obviously.
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld #1 (pause for breath) is yet another retro throwback limited series, specifically set between two panels in the original storyline of the same name. If you’ve somehow never heard of Secret Wars, it basically invented the template for the modern crossover event, bringing in a bunch of the company’s heaviest hitters for a bunch of fantastical fights and intermittent quips. Despite its iconic status, the story itself was admittedly quite thin; it only really existed to sell action figures. (The title, which is more or less nonsense in relation to the material, was chosen because market testing showed kids responded to it.) But the concept proved compelling enough for Marvel to return to it in 2015 with Jonathan Hickman’s critically lauded Secret Wars line-wide event, a quasi-reboot of the Marvel universe that will reportedly be adapted in the upcoming Avengers: Secret Wars movie.
So why return to it now? Nostalgia is the obvious answer —there’s always money to be made from raiding the nostalgia mines as these retro throwback titles have proven— and it’s technically being released for the original’s fortieth anniversary, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel also wants to start doing some covert promo for Avengers: Secret Wars even if it’s still at least three or four years out from release. It’s never too early for corporate synergy!
In any event, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld (pause for another breath) features, who else, Spider-Man in the lead. Taking place very, very shortly after he acquires his infamous black suit, he finds himself thrown into yet another trial on Battleworld that leads us through an unseen saga in this classic setting. Oh, and Human Torch is there too, as well as other figures from the original series.
As with every version of this retro throwback title, YMMV on whether or not Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: Battleworld is worth reading based on your experience with the material. There’s probably not much here for the newer reader who doesn’t hold any nostalgia for the original series. Creative team Tom DeFalco and Pat Olliffe do a good job of approximating the vibe of Bronze Age comics while still updating them enough for current storytelling standards, but if you don’t have a fondness for that era of Marvel then it might leave you cold. I appreciate what DeFalco and Olliffe are doing here —particularly the latter’s art– but I’m not especially compelled to continue reading because there’s only so much “new” you can do with a series like this. But that’s just me.