What the Casual Marvel Fan Needs to Know About the ‘Secret Wars’ Crossover Event

by Kevin Hellions @TeamHellions

This coming May, the Marvel Comics Universe is over.  For almost 55 years, comic book readers have become de-facto citizens of this ever expanding world (even longer if we go back to Marvel Comics #1). Marvel Comics have gone from Earth to every star and planet imaginable. The fun didn’t stop there- our heroes explored the past, future, and alternate dimensions. All of which come to an end in Secret Wars.

Warning: This is a ridiculously complicated story. I aim to simplify it as much as possible here.

If you want to get caught up the hard way, pick up the Avengers and New Avengers titles from the last three years. Plus Fantastic Four. The Spider-Verse will probably play into this too.

If you don’t have unlimited funds and free time, let’s get caught up to date the easy way:

An event happened (a being was born and his birth caused the death of the universe he was born into, but our Marvel heroes aren’t sure if this information can be trusted – like I said, complicated) that caused one of the many universes in the Multiverse to die sooner than it should have in the grand cosmic scheme of things. Usually these universes all exist at the same time but because of this universe no longer existing it has created a gap which has now contracted. Kind of like when you get out of the bathtub and the water level drops since the water has contracted to fill the gap where your body used to be. Think of the Marvel Multiverse as your dirty bath water.

The problem is that this event happened on the Earth of the dead universe. Which means an Earth sized space has been opened up in this contraction. The space becomes a nexus for the colliding universes. This brings the other Earths in the other universes into conflict. And when I say conflict I mean direct conflict.

Yeah. Boom. Two Earths.

Once two Earths are in the same vicinity the clock begins. Eight hours later, if the two Earths collide, those two Earths and the respective universes they reside in will cease to exist. However, if one of those Earths can be destroyed in that time then the two universes can continue to exist, with the remaining Earth in one and an empty space in the other. These events are called Incursions.

marvel secret wars incursions

The easy solution is that we all want to live, so let’s destroy the other Earth. Our heroes and villains do just that. Now begins the morality play. How many billions have to be killed so we can live? Most of us understand that sacrifices have to be made. The good of the many outweigh the good of the few. However, when we’re talking about deaths on the planet-and-universe size scale, our heroes are literally playing God.

marvel incursion wall secret wars

 

All of this is just the start.

Secret Wars begins when the Marvel Universe fails. Eight hours later, two Earths still exist. Specifically the Marvel Universe Earth and the Ultimate Universe Earth.

Side note for the Ultimate Universe: Back in 2000 Marvel Comics started a brand new universe with familiar characters as an easy jumping on point for new readers. Ultimate Spider-Man featured a young Peter Parker in high school (his origin, which was 11 pages for the original Spider-Man, took place over 7 issues).  When Uncle Ben died it mattered, and it hurt. That was just the start of differences with the Ultimate Universe. Allegiances were switched, characters died and stayed dead, sex happened (good and bad). It was a great concept that has run its course.

Back to the planets.

While we all thought the collision of two planets would result in the destruction of both respective universes, instead it results in Battleworld.

marvel secret wars battleworld map

Some of these lands are familiar, some we will realize later on are known but with unfamiliar names, and there’s still a few left that longtime comic readers are still absolutely clueless about.

Battleworld is the new Marvel Universe. One universe. Everything that has ever taken place in any universe or any timeline ever put on paper in a Marvel comic will exist on this new planet. Anything you ever liked will exist at the same time on this new planet. Did you play the Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions video game with four different versions of Spider-Man? Yeah, they’ll all be here. At the same time. And more. For every character. Just take a look at the cover for Secret Wars #2 featuring so many versions of Thor that even long time comic book readers don’t know who they are or where they’re from.

Obviously some conflicts will take place. Marvel is going to make it easy for all of us to keep track of the events in Secret Wars and Battleworld with banners on the titles involved. Just look for the following on comic book covers to know where they fit into the overall story:

  • Secret Wars Last Days – shows what your favorite Marvel characters decide to do on what they believe to be their last day on Earth.  Revelations and resolutions o’plenty.
  • Secret Wars Battleworld – will highlight all the battles taking place between different sectors on the new Battleworld.
  • Secret Wars Warzones – take place inside one location and tell new stories or new takes on classic stories that now take place in this alternate location.

While we have no idea what will happen at the end of the Secret Wars it looks like an all new Marvel Universe is ahead of us. One where everything still happened, and everything matters but the board and players have been shaken up. Imagine taking a tub of toys and dumping it on the ground. No restrictions, no decades of stories hanging over head controlling your play. He-Man is He-Man but if he wants to ride Grimlock and battle Mumm-Ra who cares?! And if there are two He-Mans, screw it.  Make one evil or a twin or anything you want.

I promised to make this simple and uncomplicated, so I wont show all of the titles and details that Marvel has revealed. But let me leave you with this tease of what’s to come:

marvel x-men 92

That’s right. The X-Men you remember. Plucked from over 20 years ago and brought back into today’s comics like nothing happened. This alone should rope in many of the children of the 80s who became comic book buyers and X-Men the Animated Series watchers of the 90s (who now happen to be the parents of teens with disposable income to buy this series).

 

Kevin Hellions (@TeamHellions) just did a lot of work to try to explain this to you (and to understand it himself). Visit his website to thank him for his hard work. 

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