One thing that can be said about Jonathon Hickman is that he doesn’t do small stories. If you read his run on the Fantastic Four you’d know he plans for the long term, creating and weaving big stories that all come together with a fantastic ending. The same can be said about Secret Wars (2015). The unfortunate problem is, if you’re starting there, then you’ll only be getting half the story, and that’s half the problem really.
As much as Secret Wars is a great story, if you haven’t read any of the Avengers or New Avengers books written by Hickman, then you’ll be missing parts of the story. It’s not quite as reader friendly as Marvel would’ve hoped it would be, unlike some of their other events out there. True, event comics don’t just happen over night and there does need to be ground work laid out, but if the ground work involves 40 odd issues of comics, then you may have a problem on your hands. Yes they were decent comics, but at the same time it’s still 40 issues of prologue to get the whole picture of Secret Wars. But that doesn’t answer the question of is it any good?
On the whole, it is a rather interesting tale, with the tie ins providing the real meat of the expanded universe, of which there are a lot. Every major alternate universe that was part of the Marvel Universe is hear, Marvel Zombies, Age of Apocalypse, Ultimate Universe etc and if you were a fan of those titles, then there is a lot to enjoy here. There is a lot of fun to be had with the tie in books, of which there is some thing for every one. So if nothing else, the tie ins were pretty rad.
Another aspect to consider is how you find Jonathan Hickman’s writing style. As a great as he is, he can be an acquired taste. If you’ve read his amazing run on the Fantastic Four book, then you’ll know what to expect. As a stand alone event, I want to say it’s worth reading, because it is, but if you don’t have the time to read the previous Avengers/ new Avengers books then you might be better off skipping Secret Wars 2015. It’s like starting Justified at season 6, you can do it, but you’re missing out on much of the story.
To be perfectly honest, as it was Mr Hickman’s fair well from Marvel, you couldn’t expect a better way to send the man off. Given free reign over two flagship titles which lead to a sprawling 9 issue event comic in which multiple threads you wrote all get tied up in the end, well I couldn’t think of a better gift to a great writer.