Marvel's Secret Wars has been one hell of a challenge.
I mean this in the best way possible. The eight-month crossover event (it's been riddled with at least 10 weeks' worth of delays) is a beefy, dense story that's swallowed the Marvel comic book universe and spit it back out again. Universes were destroyed, Dr. Doom turned himself into a god, new characters were introduced, and every kind of hell broke loose. And that's not even counting the two years of world building, primarily by writer Jonathan Hickman, that took place prior to Secret Wars' launch in other books like New Avengers.
It's been frustrating (the delays), confusing, and rewarding to read. And on Wednesday, the last issue of Secret Wars was finally published.
Secret Wars No. 9 is a solid and fitting finale, although fans of titanic fight scenes and bone-snapping action won't be all that enthused with the relatively quiet conclusion. Esad Ribic's art is ethereal and gorgeous, but Secret Wars isn't exactly thrilling. And you can almost feel Hickman's sigh of relief by the last act, as he concludes a story that's been a major part of his life for the past few years (he's now taking a deserved break from Marvel).
For fans of Marvel properties who don't religiously read comic books, a lot of what happened in Secret Wars is going to create the feeling of jumping into an already-started sequence of double Dutch. It's a huge event, but not every component is crucial — except for one (two if you're a Fantastic Four fan).
Without giving away too much of the ending, the events of Secret Wars have crystallized Miles Morales's place at Marvel. Morales, who is black and Hispanic, is a Spider-Man who was created in an alternate universe that's separate from Marvel's main stage. And Secret Wars explains how it's now possible for Morales to fight alongside the Avengers in Marvel's primary universe.
Of course, the next question is whether we'll ever see Morales in Marvel's future movies, especially now that there's a plea for the company to expand its ongoing diversity initiative to include its blockbusters.
Unfortunately, a dedicated Miles Morales movie won't be happening anytime soon — there are just too many legal snarls in the way, a slate of scheduled Marvel movies, and the fact that there's traditionally a long waiting period between what's written in the comic books and what shows up in the movies (Civil War, which was a comic event in 2006, will hit theaters this year, and that's one of the faster ones).
One thing that is for certain is that by the end of Secret Wars No. 9, Morales is officially a bigger player in the Marvel universe. One of the biggest universe-altering events in Marvel history is over. And I can't wait to see what happens next.