Marvel Events XVI: Road to the End

by GregFahlgren

Continuing my series on Marvel Events, we look at the road to the new Secret Wars.

Hello again True Believers! Hard to believe, but we are nearing the end of this series, and the end of an entire age of Marvel as we know it. By 2014, the company was riding an all time high, their sales hitting peaks that hadn’t been seen since the 1980s. Movies and TV programs based on Marvel’s characters were popping out of the woodwork faster than Quicksilver goes to the bathroom, superheroes more visible and beloved than almost any time in history.

To capitalize on this success, Marvel continued to push forward, its most popular characters rushing headlong into new and uncharted territory. More than a few massive stories came out of this time period, taking Marvel in exciting new directions.

Something was looming in the background though, unbeknownst to the majority of Marvel’s heroes, as a march towards the single largest event in the company’s history was about to take place. Before we get there however, let’s check out some of the biggest stories for Marvel’s biggest heroes of the last decade, and find out how we came upon the road to the end.

The Trial of Jean Grey

Sins of Future Past

The Original Five X-Men’s arrival to the present had set off a domino effect for the Marvel U, creating chaos for the mutant community. After they had left the Jean Grey School, Kitty Pryde led her young charges to Cyclops’ New Xavier School, hidden in the old Weapon X Facility. Soon thereafter however, the Shi’ar arrived, kidnapping young Jean Grey so they could put her on trial for the crimes her older self had committed decades before. Of course, Professor Pryde is not going to let this come to pass, and declares that she and the young mutants were going to go after her. The problem was however, they didn’t have a ship, and no clear way of getting one. Thankfully, the Guardians of the Galaxy witnessed the Shi’ar in Earth’s solar system, and were investigating the situation. They took the X-Men into space to rescue Jean, eventually linking up with the Starjammers, lead by Cyclops’s father, Corsair.

The three teams head to the Shi’ar homeworld, and manage to free Jean from her captivity only to be attacked by the Imperial Guard. During the battle, Jean discovers that Gladiator and the Shi’ar had killed her parents in attempt to wipe out the Grey line. Filled with rage, Jean activates a new ability to absorb psionic energy and then use it as a weapon, then uses it to destroy a Shi’ar battleship, and defeat the Imperial Guard. As the heroes leave, the Guardians warn the Shi’ar that Earth is under their protection, and to not go after Jean again. Once home, Star-Lord give Kitty a communicator in case the Shi’ar return, while Cyclops decides to go with his father and the Starjammers for a time, leaving the All New X-Men behind.

The Trial of Jean Grey was the first of two crossovers for the Guardians and the X-Men, and though its consequences were not earth-shattering, they sowed some fairly important seeds for down the road. Cyclops’s departure (for a while at least) left a bit of a hole in the young X-Men’s ranks, a hole that was filled by X-23 who at his insistence decided to stay on with the team for a while. Jean’s new power was quite a shock, showing that by coming to the future much of her destiny as the Phoenix may or may not have been changed. In addition, the event began the relationship between Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde, one that has been me with a largely positive response from fans. The trial may be over, but this event solidified that that the All-New X-Men weren’t going anywhere.

Goblin Nation

Superior No Longer

During the storyline, Dying Wish, Doctor Octopus had successfully switched his dying body with Spider-Man’s, killing Peter Parker and taking his place as (Superior) Spider-Man. During this time, he managed to get Spidey kicked out of the Avengers, blackmail J Jonah Jameson, screw up Peter’s relationship with MJ, and hired a bunch of militant goons to do his bidding (yes, he had Spider-Henchmen). All the while, Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblins, had returned as Goblin King, and was slowly transforming New York City into his personal playground. While Otto was busy with screwing up Peter Parker’s life, Osborn was kidnapping New York’s citizens and using the Goblin Formula turning them into his loyal, psychotic minions, including Peter Parker’s cop ex-girlfriend Carly Cooper.

After months of planning, Osborn makes his play, his Goblin Nation waging a war against New York City, the Avengers, the authorities and everyone else taxed to the breaking point trying to stop it. In secret, Superior Spider-Man meets with Osborn, who declares that he knows its Otto occupying Spider-Man’s body all along. Otto tries to fight back, but is stopped at every turn, Osborn taking over Otto’s tech and using it against him. Finally, after a series of defeats, Otto realizes then that he cannot save New York. He seeks out the small part of Peter Parker’s consciousness that was left in his mind, and allows himself to slowly fade away and allow Peter to regain control of his body, and once again become the Amazing Spider-Man!

With Peter Parker back in control, he immediately goes on the offensive, stringing together a series of victories against the goblins. It all comes to a head at a final confrontation with Goblin King, the fate of the city resting on the battle of old enemies. He stops Osborn by injecting him with a cure for the Goblin Formula, taking away his insanity and rendering him normal. Osborn manages to escape, but it doesn’t matter in the end. Spider-Man was back, and the city was saved!

Of course, there was still the issue of the massive mess Doc Ock left of Peter’s life. Peter was left with PhD he didn’t actually study for, owning a company he knew nothing about, and a girlfriend that had apparently fallen in love with Otto (yeah, figure that one out!). In addition to that, many of his friends and family distanced himself from him, including MJ and Carly, hurting Peter than either of them truly realized. In order to help fix part of the problem, Peter declared that he was distancing himself from Spider-Man publically, though he knew that it would be a long time before the Web-Slinger was fully accepted as a hero again. What was more, Osborn was still out there, and cured of his insanity, maybe more dangerous than ever before.

Golbin Nation was the grand finale to Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man epic that began with Dying Wish, and went above and beyond all expectations. The return of Peter, though a delight and the best superhero comeback I’ve ever seen, was not clear cut, much of the good and bad Ock had done to Peter’s life not something that can just brushed aside. Peter would have to deal with this mess, and would do it typical Spider-Man fashion (not particularly well), but Spider-Man was back, and better than ever!

Original Sin

The Watcher is Dead

The Watcher Uatu has been a staple of the Marvel Universe for a long time. Never getting directly involved, he has always watched the heroes of Earth, recording their history as is his duty. An immensely powerful being, it was always accepted that no matter what transpired in the Marvel Universe, he would always be there to watch and record as his people always have. However, when he is found dead, his eyes removed, Marvel’s heroes race to find his killer, and why it happened.

While the majority of Marvel’s heroes pursuing the Watcher’s killers, a small team comprised of Moon Knight, Punisher, Scott Lang, Winter Soldier, Gamora, Emma Frost, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange have been contacted by a mysterious benefactor, sending them to pursue answers through alternate means. The rest of Marvel’s heroes go into overdrive, lead by the retired Nick Fury. Through his investigations, Fury tracks down a group of minor villains in possession of one of the Watcher’s eyes, lead by Doctor Midas and a new Orb. All available heroes converge on New York City to retrieve the eye, not knowing what it might be capable of. In the midst of a battle between the Orb’s fellows and the heroes, the Orb in desperation actives the eye, revealing its secrets to everyone in sight.

Everything dissolves into chaos as the heroes discover terrible revelations about their pasts. Thor finds out that he has a sister, and along with Loki seeks her out and discovers her to be Angela, and the Heven is the lost Tenth Realm. Hulk discovers that Iron Man may have been involved in the Gamma Bomb incident that created him, and goes on a rampage to find Tony. When Tony disappears, Bruce Banner uses Extremis on himself, turning himself into a super intelligent monster named Doc Green. Doc Green tracks Tony down, and after destroying the Hulkbuster armour, forces Tony to admit his involvement. Tony explains that in a drunken delirium he had tampered with the Gamma Bomb, but his actions in fact made the bomb less destructive, and therefore had no impact on the creation of the Hulk. Doc Green leaves him to his self-loathing, though what the new Hulk’s motivations were are unknown.

Meanwhile, the secret group’s investigations turn over a series of clues, eventually discovering that someone had been killing major threats to Earth in secret for over six decades. Suddenly, Winter Soldier abandons his colleagues, heading back to Earth and beheading Nick Fury. His action horrific, he heads to a space station orbiting Earth, his cohorts in pursuit. There, they discover that the Fury Bucky had killed was an LMD, and that the real Nick Fury was near death, and had been for years. He admits to Bucky and company that Fury’s Infinity Formula had worn off years ago, for decades the Nick Fury they had known were various LMD’s he had sent out to take his place.

The group demands answers to the things they had discovered, and Fury tells them that when he was a young man, he witnessed Woody McCords’s death wearing specialized space suit. Howard Stark soon arrives, and convinces Fury to join him in a secret venture to eliminate threats to Earth, often using terrible means, becoming known as The Man on the Wall. As the horrified heroes stand in stunned silence, Fury then tells them that he had called the various heroes so that one or more of them could replace him and continue his work. Panther demands to know what happened to the Watcher, but Fury activates the eye and sends his LMDs to fight against the heroes.

The rest of Earth’s heroes arrive at the moon lead by the Avengers, and demand answers from Fury. Fury tells them that Midas and Orb had attacked and robbed Uatu’s armoury. The weapons in the armoury some of the most destructive in existence, Fury had arrived to track down the thieves. However, Uatu had refused to name his attackers (as is his oath of non-interference), and Fury killed him in order to get his eyes. He was then attacked by Midas and Orb, who took the one eye and fled before Fury could catch them. Disgusted  by his actions, the Avengers try to take him into custody, during which Fury whispered something in Thor’s ear, the words (whatever they were), making him unworthy to wield Mjolnir!

The battle continued, and finally, Fury forces Midas to absorb the power of the Eye, overloading and killing the villain, the resulting explosion supposedly killing Fury as well. The Avengers return home, horrified at this turn of events, questioning how Fury could have done all this. Unbeknownst to them, Fury had survived, absorbing the Watcher’s power, and becoming the new Watcher! Winter Soldier meanwhile, takes up Fury’s cause as ‘The Man on the Wall’.

The consequences of Original Sin were immediate, various characters that were caught in the ‘Truth Blast’ discovering horrible facts about their past that many didn’t want to confront. More immediately, the Hulk had been transformed into Doc Green, with Bruce Banner somehow trapped within his own mind, unable to get out. Thor’s inability to lift Mjoinir lead to Jane Foster taking up the hammer, becoming Thor in his stead, causing Thor to give up his name, calling himself Odinson and wielding the axe Jarnjborn.

Many of these threads would continue to be pulled in the months to come, and I doubt we have felt the last aftershocks of this storyline even today. For better or for worse, Original Sin changed Marvel irrevocably.

Death of Wolverine

End of a Ronin

Wolverine has been one of Marvel’s biggest stars for over three decades, going from a Hulk opponent to an X-Man to an Avenger and beyond. Over those years, he has lived through many tragedies and triumphs, each one changing him in ways he never could have predicted, and in recent years, seemed to have found some measure of peace with himself and those he cares about.

However, when Logan became infected with a virus from the microverse, his healing factor was completely burnt out, leaving him vulnerable for the first time in his life. Over the following months, he had begun to adjust to his new status quo, nearly getting himself killed several times in the process, hurting his relationships with Storm and Kitty Pryde. To make matters worse, just when he was starting to accept his fate, his condition began to worsen, Reed Richards and others failing in every attempt to find a cure for his condition. The fact was, his adamantium claws were killing him, filling his body with bacteria every time he popped them. Word got around, and soon Wolverine’s enemies began circling like vultures, each one wanting to be the one who finally killed Wolverine.

Knowing how big of a target he was, he left the X-Mansion and goes into seclusion in order to protect those closest to him. Soon, he is beset upon by a multitude of villains. After dispatching Nuke, he learns that someone had put a bounty on his head, and sets out to discover who and why. His search leads him to Madripoor, Marvel’s resident hive of scum and villainy, and fights his way into a meeting with Viper, the new head of HYDRA. After a brutal battle, during which Wolverine loses his eye, Viper points him in the direction of Lord Ogun. Lady Deathstryke arrives, and threatens Logan, only to be taken out by Kitty Pryde.

After giving Logan a healing potion to restore his eye, Kitty goes with him to Japan. Soon after arriving, Logan realizes she’s been possessed by Ogun. He frees her, and then tracks Ogun down, who tells him that Dr Cornelius, the man that had run the Weapon X program, was the one who had set the bounty. Bidding Kitty farewell, Logan goes to find Cornelius.

Tracking the doctor to Paradise Island, Logan confronts Cornelius who explains that he wants to replicate what he did with Wolverine, and that he needs Logan’s healing factor. When Logan tells him he longer has it, Cornelius unleashes his latest experiment on Logan and tries to escape, activating another experiment to bond adamantium to three more people. Logan stops the experiment by slashing the tanks, but ends up covered in the liquid medal. He chases Cornelius to the roof, and kills him, before stating that he has done enough. The adamantium hardens, and Logan dies, content with all that he had done in his life.

Death of Wolverine was easily one of the most important stories for Marvel in 2014. Killing such an important and long-tenured character is always tricky, especially for someone like Logan, but writer Charles Soule pulled it off in expert fashion, crafting an amazing story truly fitting of the Wolverine. The effects were widespread, the X-Men in a complete state of shock, each reacting in their own way (Cylcops went to a bar and started a fight in Logan’s honour being the best one). Since then, X-23 has taken up her father’s mantle, and Old Man Logan has arrived in the main Marvel U, but it will be some years until we can truly move past the point that the greatest warrior in Marvel’s history has left us, though his incredible legacy will live on forever.

Avengers & X-Men: AXIS

Heroes and Villains

During the fallout of Avengers vs X-Men, the Avengers formed the Unity Squad made up of Avengers and X-Men both in an attempt to bring the two teams closer together. Soon after their forming however, the Red Skull returned with a vengeance, wishing to wipe out mutant kind forever. To this end, he stole the body of Charles Xavier, extracted his brain, and transplanting into his own (gross). The procedure gave Skull Xavier’s psychic abilities, and he began using them to wage a war against mutant king, declaring them an inferior race.

His first attack was pushed back, and Skull went underground, secretly collecting any mutants he can find and putting them in concentration camps for study and experimentation, his prime base being located on Genosha. This eventually draws the attention of Magneto, who upon seeing mutants being butchered the same way the Jews were in his childhood, kills the Red Skull. However, this action had an unexpected consequence. Skull, possessing the powers of Charles Xavier, doesn’t die, instead morphing into his own horrible version of the most evil part of Charles’s mind, RED ONSLAUGHT!

Soon, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Inhumans, and every other hero available arrives to fight this monster, only to discover that he had manipulated Tony Stark into constructing Adamantium Sentinels specifically designed to destroy heroes. The battle continues, one by one the heroes captured and locked inside the Sentinels. Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch attempt an inversion spell on the recommendation of Rogue in an effort to bring the small piece of Charles Xavier residing in Skull’s mind to the forefront. However, Doctor Strange is captured, after which Magneto leaves, Iron Man thinking he was abandoning them to their fate.

But he was wrong. Magneto had only left to find help from the most unlikely sources, gathering some of the world’s most dangerous supervillains and sending them into battle against Red Onslaught and his Sentinels. The Sentinels were not prepared to fight villains, and were destroyed, freeing the heroes. But it was still not enough. Scarlet Witch reluctantly teams with Dr. Doom to finish the inversion spell, and Red Onslaught is destroyed, leaving a now White Skull lying unconscious in the ruins of the battlefield. The X-Men wish to take Skull with them, thinking that it was the only way to bring back Xavier, but the Avengers disagree, citing how dangerous Skull is and that he needs to be confined until further notice. Steve Rogers arrives and sides with the Avengers, declaring that White Skull will be imprisoned in Avengers Tower. Havok, disgusted by this turn events, sides with the X-Men, leaving the Unity Squad. Both groups leave the battlefield on the worst possible terms, all the work they had done to unite in the years since AVX undone in a matter of seconds.

After the battle, the effected heroes began to act a little... strange. There was a meeting called to Avengers Tower, nearly every hero in New York arriving. It was a trap, the heroes that had been at Genosha inverted by the same spell used to subdue Red Onslaught, turning into dark, evil reflections of themselves. They used Skull’s technology to trap the majority of the heroes gathered in stasis, all except for Spider-Man and Nova, who barely managed to escape. Soon, the two meet up with Magneto and Steve Rogers, who had gathered the villains that were at Genosha, each of them inverted themselves. Magneto tells them that the X-Men were also inverted, and were under the leadership of the reborn Apocalypse, the inverted version of young mutant Genesis. Not only that, the now evil X-Men and Avengers were about to go war with one another, the X-Men preparing a genetic bomb that will kill every non-mutant on Earth.

Lead by Magneto, Spider-Man and Steve Rogers, the team, named the Astonishing Avengers, set out to stop the Avengers and X-Men from destroying each other, and find a way to cast another inversion spell to switch everyone back. While all this is going on, an inverted Scarlet Witch attacks Doctor Doom (himself inverted), but is stopped by Doctor Voodoo, Quicksilver and Magneto, Voodoo using the spirit of his brother Daniel Drumm to possess her. At the same time, Loki leads Thor away to the Blue Area of the moon to keep him out of the fight, the inverted Loki now worthy of wielding Mjolnir for a brief moment in time. Meanwhile, Magneto manages to find and rescue White Skull, who refers to him as, “my old friend”...

The Astonishing Avengers are able to stop the X-Men’s bomb, Carnage sacrificing himself to contain it. Doom, White Skull, and the possessed Scarlet Witch cast a new inversion spell over the various heroes and villains, inverting them back to their previous selves However, Iron Man put up a shield, preventing himself from being turned back, remaining the sinister Superior Iron Man. Sabretooth and Havok were also caught in the shield, the latter declaring that he couldn’t live with himself knowing what he had done, kidnapping Wasp and fleeing the scene. As for Sabretooth, for the first time in his life, he had a conscience, and in the coming days finally understood why Wolverine had worked so hard to change who he was and vowed to do the same.

AXIS changed the status quo in Marvel much like Avengers vs X-Men had, but not as overtly. Iron Man was still inverted, becoming sadistic and cruel to everyone around him. Sabretooth would go into the world to seek redemption for his crimes, while Havok would join his brother’s X-Men team (that’s going to work out GREAT). The most positive change however was that through all the conflicts, the X-Men and Avengers are now closer than ever, the Unity Squad becoming bigger and more important than ever, a new found peace and respect between the two teams uniting them in their shared quest to protect the world from those that would destroy it.


War for All Spiders

In recent years, more and more Spider-People have been popping up during Dan Slott’s near-legendary run on Spider-Man. During an accidental trip to the future, Superior Spider-Man discovered that someone was killing the various Spider people, and consuming their life forces. He investigates, discovering that the Inheritors, a brutal race of seemingly immortal beings, were responsible. The ancient family from Earth-1, a universe named Loomworld, were hunting down every “Spider Totem” in existence, destroying them one at a time as part of an ancient prophecy to ensure their dominance over the multiverse.

Meanwhile, back in the past, Peter Parker had already regained control of his body from Doc Ock, and was trying to fix the mess his life had become as a result of his archnemesis’s takeover of his body. While on patrol, he arrives at a crime scene to stop a bad guy, and is soon surrounded by the other various spider-people of his world. Suddenly, Spider-UK of the Captain Britain Corps arrives, and teleports the Spider Heroes to a safe zone with even MORE Spider-Men and Women. There, he tells them the war the Inheritors has started, and they need to rally as many Spider-People as possible if they are going to survive. What’s more, they discover another safe zone with another group of Spiders, these lead by the Superior Spider-Man. After a brief conflict between Otto and Peter, they decide to work together, leading the Spiders together as the war escalates. Their safe zone is attacked soon thereafter, and the Spiders scatter, the Inheritors hot on their heels.

As the war continues, the Spiders manage to string together a number of small victories, all the while collecting as many Spiders from the various universes to their cause. Ben Reilly, Ultimate Black Widow, and Kaine managed to destroy the Inheritors breeding centre, effectively making the villains mortal, but at the cost of Reilly’s life. Spider-Woman infiltrates the Loomworld, and discovers the prophecy the Inheritors are trying to fulfill, all the while trying to protect young Silk, who is “The Bride” in the prophecy.

It all comes to ahead on Loomworld, in a massive battle between the Inheritors and the Spiders. The Spiders are pressed hard, but as their numbers grow, one of the Inheritors, Karn turns traitor, and helps the Spiders bring the Inheritors to their knees. Superior demands that they be killed, by Peter declares, “Heroes don’t kill,” and instead sends them to a world where there was a world-wide nuclear holocaust, forcing them to take refuge in a small bunker, sealed away for all time.

However, Superior Spider-Man learns the Peter will regain control of his body, and decides that he can’t let that happen. He tries to destroy the Great Web, killing the Weaver. The other Spider Persons managed to stop him and send him back to the past with no memory of the events. Meanwhile, the Inheritor traitor Karn realizes that the Weaver was a future version on himself, and takes his place as was his destiny, and then sends the remaining Spiders home.

Spider-Verse was the first time I had really seen a Spider-Crossover on this kind of scale, and like many crossovers before it, it spun out multiple titles. There’s a new Spider-Verse Mini for Secret Wars, the ongoing Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen and Silk books were born straight out of this event, and not to mention the main book Amazing Spider-Man still going strong. Bottom line, this event (like most), rewrote the status quo for Spider-Man and his cohorts, forever changing the landscape of Spider Men and Women across Marvel.

Black Vortex

Unlimited Power

Black Vortex was the final crossover for writer Brian Michael Bendis in his time on the X-Books. Combing both the All-New X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy, the story follows up on the storylines born from The Trial of Jean Grey and their immediate aftermath, taking the young X-Men into the depths of space one more time, this time to help the Guardians find an artifact of untold power. I think any of you that have been reading this series for while can expect that is probably not going to go exactly as planned...

For years, Star-Lord kept hearing rumours about the mysterious Black Vortex, an immensely powerful artifact of unknown origin. When he hears that it has fallen into the possession of the villain Mister Knife, and that Thanos’s son Thane is searching for it, he approaches the X-Men, and convinces them to help he and the Guardians of the Galaxy steal it before millions of lives could be lost. They succeed in their mission, returning to Earth, gathering both the Jean Grey and New Xavier Schools together while they discuss what to do about the Vortex. However, before the decision can be made, Mister Knife sends his Slaughter Lords to attack them. The fight turns ill for the heroes, until Gamora surrenders herself to the Vortex, and is granted immense cosmic power, giving her the strength to overwhelm the Slaughter Lords.

After the battle, Magick teleports them to Spartax’s moon where they begin to discuss their options once again. Star-Lord wants to use the power of the Vortex to fight Mister Knife and his forces. On the other hand, Kitty Pryde wants to destroy it, stating that it was too powerful and too dangerous to use. During the discussion, Beast and Angel both submit to the Vortex, becoming immensely powerful. After, Storm takes the Vortex, having seen enough destruction during her encounters with the Phoenix, but Angel, Gamora and Beast take her. The rest of the X-Men and Guardians arrive to fight them off, but the three manage to escape. As Kitty scolds Star-Lord, Mister Knife arrives, forcing the heroes to flee. They meet up with Young Cyclops and the Starjammers, who offer their help.

Meanwhile, Gamora, Beast, and Angel attempt to evolve a primitive world to prove the Vortex’s power, but are attacked by Ronan the Accusar. Ronan takes the Vortex, angering the three heroes who then launch an all out assault on Hala. Ronan disobeys the Supreme Intelligence and uses the Vortex to defeat the heroes and send them running.

Back on the Spartax Moon, Cyclops, Iceman and Groot go to distract Mister Knife, getting captured in the process. The others go to investigate the Savage Orphanage, finding Gara, the first person to use the Vortex. She tells them that she destroyed her entire race with the Vortex, and that the artefact was too powerful and needed to be destroyed. In the background, Thane, who had been working with Mister Knife to gain more power, leaves Knife’s ship to return to a planet he had been protecting, only to find the population dead. Thinking the X-Men and the Guardians were responsible, he returns to Knife and the two set out to find their enemies.

While the others stayed on Spartax, the rest of the heroes travel to Hala, and plead with the Supreme Intelligence to let them take the Vortex. The Intelligence refused, leaving the X-Men and Guardians little choice but to attack the Kree, and steal the Vortex. Mister Knife arrives, and launches a devastating attack on the planet. The X-Men and the Guardians manage to get out, but Nova found himself trapped with the Vortex in the void. He returns home, and after a short battle with the Collector, returns to Spartax only to be ambushed by Thane and Mister Knife, the former submitting to the Vortex to gain its power. Thane traps Spartax in amber, only for Kitty Pryde to escape just as Star-Lord was returning with his team. Meanwhile, Knife and Thane meet with the Brood Queen, who launches an attack on Spartax along with the Slaughter Lords. The heroes gather to fight against them, but are outnumbered. As the battle escalates, Cyclops, Groot and Iceman manage to free themselves and join in the fight.

Captain Marvel arrives, and is given the Vortex to take to Kitty Pryde. Carol finds herself pursued by Knife, Thane and the two Slaughter Lords. Overmatched, she uses the Vortex as a shield, deflecting the attack onto Spartax Emperor J’Son, who was also in pursuit. Gara arrives to try and destroy the Vortex, but Carol manages to escape. Bringing the Vortex to the others, they decide that in order to defeat Thane and Mister Knife, they need to use its power.  Kitty Pryde decides to be the one to do it, and using the cosmic power phases Spartax away from Thane’s amber encasing, and then shatters it, killing millions of Brood in the process. Meanwhile, Ronan the Accuser arrives on Spartax, and forces the Slaughter Lords to flee, ending the battle.

Once things settled, Gara takes the Vortex, offering to take the cosmic powers away from the heroes, only Gamora, Kitty, and Angel refusing. He leaves the X-Men and the Guardians to return home, Star-Lord proposing to Kitty, which she accepts.

Black Vortex was a much bigger event than many had predicted, Bendis and company weaving a massive story with cosmic consequences galore. Gamora, Kitty and Angel were now more powerful than ever, plus Kitty and Star-Lord’s impending marriage would be a source of a lot of fun stories down the road. However, not all was well. Ronan the Accuser would swear revenge on those that destroyed Hala, and pissing him off is never a good idea. However this was all just a precursor to what was coming next, as the end of everything we ever knew about Marvel was about to finish it’s unstoppable march.

Time Runs Out

The End is Nigh...

Some time ago, the Illuminati had discovered that entire universes were being destroyed in events called incursions in which the two universes, centering on Earth, would collide and destroy one another. They had done everything they could think of to stop the incursions, sacrificing their very souls in the process, but the more they tried, the closer they came to the realization that there was nothing they could to stop the wholesale destruction of the multiverse.

Time Runs Out takes place 8 months before Secret Wars and 8 months after AXIS, the countdown for the end of everything having already begun. The Avengers have come under the command of SHIELD, the organization now lead by Sue Storm and Steve Rogers, both trying to find the Illuminati and bring them to justice. To make matters worse, the new Cabal, led by Namor, is still out there, destroying worlds to save their own, a tactic Namor himself had used before the Illuminati cast him out. Sometime during the 8 months of AXIS, Tony Stark was captured by the Cabal, and forced to help them with their plans. The Cabal has also taken over Wakanda, and has been using it as a base from which to seek out other universes and destroy them to save their own. Meanwhile, Dr Doom has allied himself with the Mad Thinker to map the multiverses and discover the source of this collapse. Meanwhile Sunspot is leading his own group of Avengers, who had bought AIM and using their resources to find a possible solution. But no matter what the heroes and villains, in many ways indistinguishable from each other now, do, the White Event was still approaching, and universes are still dying.

Using AIM resources, Sunspot manages to build a device to track the source of the decay of the Multiverse, and the Avengers send a team lead by Odinson and Hyperion to find it. They encounter the Black Priests, who are also trying to save the multiverse under the leadership of Doctor Strange. Together they form a plan to capture a Black Swan from Rabum Alal in order to capture one of the Ivory Kings’ Mapmakers. The Avengers and Black Priests subsequently split up, the former going for the Black Swan, the latter going for the Mapmaker.

Back on Earth, the Illuminati allowed themselves to be found by Rogers and SHIELD, only to lead them into a trap. Sunspot arrived, siding the Illuminati and pleading with Rogers that they need to put aside their differences and work together to end the incursions. Rogers refuses, and deploys the Mighty Avengers, sparking a massive battle between. Eventually, Sue Storm reveals herself to be working with the Illuminati all along, and traps everyone in force cages. There, the Illumanti, now joined back Black Bolt, a repentant Namor, and Medusa, tell the Avengers that they have to deal with the Cabal before they destroy any more worlds.

Leading them to another universe, Namor sets the trap for the Cabal, leaving them on a dying universe. However, Black Bolt and Black Panther prevent him from leaving, ensuring that he pays for his crimes before they return back to their reality. What they didn’t know was that the Cabal detected another oncoming incursion, and jump to that reality, the Ultimate Universe, and encounter the Maker, and make him aware of the incursions.

On Earth 616, every group of Avengers and the Illuminati meet to discuss a solution, getting nowhere. One thing that was clear was that the incursions were accelerating, with only a few dozen realities remaining. Yellowjacket contacts them then, stating that he has found the source of the incursions, and that the Ivory Kings were in fact the Beyonders! The Beyonders were killing each universe’s Celestials, which were causing a chain reaction and splintering the universes. Inspired by Reed’s daughter Val, the Illuminati began working on a life boat to escape the destruction of their universe.

Out in deep space, Sunspot’s Avengers and the Black Priests continue their search. The Black Priests track down a group of Black Swans, but are destroyed to a man with the exception of Doctor Strange, who is brought before Rabum Alal, who then reveals to be Doctor Doom. Doom explains that he and Molecule Man had travelled back in time, discovering the Beyonders’ plans to destroy the universes. Though he had managed to delay them, when he directly confronted the Beyonders, he was defeated, leading to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of universes, leading to where things stood now. Elsewhere, Sunspot’s Avengers do manage to find the Ivory Kings, and manage to destroy them despite heavy losses. Odinson and Hyperion were all that survived, but they met their end when countless Beyonders arrived to finish them off.

To make things worse, the Shi’ar had discovered that Earth was the centre of the destruction of the Multiverse, and moved to destroy it. The Illuminati and their allies moved to stop them, but were stopped at every turn until the Illuminati managed to phase a rogue planet around Earth to protect it. Iron Man, having escaped from the Cabal, then charged and fired Sol’s Hammer, destroying the Shi’ar fleet. On the Ultimate Universe, the Cabal and the Maker, contacted Nick Fury to inform him about the Incursions, who then readies SHIELD for a war with the 616 reality.

In the final moments before the last incursion, the Illuminati loaded as many people onto their lifeboat while Steve Rogers and Iron Man fought it out one last time. The SHIELD Helicarriers from Ultimate descended down on 616, the Avengers fighting them off until the last moment when the incursion hit, destroying both universe, Tony and Steve dying fighting each other as it all went down...

Time Runs Out was the last steps towards a calamity that Marvel, specifically Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers books, had been building to since the end of Avengers vs X-Men, some say even longer than that. The detailing of the end of the multiverse was so exquisite that it was one of the most tragic, and most harrowing tales in Marvel history. But it was all a precursor to a larger event, one that would rip the Marvel Mutliverse apart, literally, and change the company irrevocably like it had never been before.


Everything Ends...

The lead up to Secret Wars was not as clear cut as the lead up to Avengers vs X-Men, but it was still massively important for Marvel to get their players on base to hit the grand slam they needed. Momentum in entertainment can change on a dime, and comic’s biggest publisher did a wonderful job of keeping it going in the lead up to the single largest comic book event in their long and storied history.

I will take us through Secret Wars and its fallout in our next episode, but until then True Believers, HAPPY READING!

The Complete Series

First chapter of a series of blogs detailing the Events and Crossovers of the Marvel Universe.
Continuing from Part I, I explore the important cross-over events of Marvel's Silver Age
Examining the major Marvel Crossovers and Storylines from the 70s into the mid-80s.
Returning to the Marvel U, and examining the BOOM of crossover event comics.
Continuing study of the biggest events in Marvel's long history.
Continuing with my special series talking about Marvel's Crossover Events.
Continuing ongoing series talking about major Marvel Events as we hit the mid-90s!
Continuing Marvel's journey through it's major crossover story lines as the company enters the new Millenium.
Part IX of my ongoing series examining the major crossover events in the history of Marvel Comics.
Continuing my series on Marvel's biggest crossover events as the company releasing some of it's biggest yet.
Continuing my series on major Marvel Events, covering the Dark Reign era of the Marvel U.
Continuing my series on the history of Marvel's crossover events, talking about the finales to two of the most revered runs in recent history.
Continuing my series on major Marvel Events in the lead up to the company's biggest event to date!
Continuing my series on Marvel Events with the biggest story Marvel has written to date.
Continuing my series on the history of Marvel events as we enter the post-AVX world.
Updated: 03/29/2016, GregFahlgren
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