by GregFahlgren

My final entry in my history of Marvel Events, discussing the new Secret Wars and what the mega-event means for comic's largest publisher.

This is it True Believers. This is the end, the is the final step on a long journey, a journey that no matter what the heroes and villains of Marvel tried, they could not change the outcome. The multiverse was dying, universes were being destroyed one at a time, and in a single horrible moment, everything we know about Marvel will die...

Written by Avengers scribe extraordinaire Jonathan Hickman, with art by the mega-talented Esad Ribic, Secret Wars was the end of the line for an era of Marvel Comics, and changed the company forever in more ways than any other storyline before it. Rules were going to be broken, universes were going to e destroyed, and the heroes of the past, present, and future were going to collide in the biggest comic book event since the legendary Crisis on Infinite Earths. Hickman and company would pull no punches, take every chance in the book, and what they would create is a story that no one will ever forget. Are you ready? I’m not, but let’s dive into this thing head first shall we?

The Road

Everything Dies

The beginning of this story in reality began with Jonathon Hickman’s run in Fantastic Four, the first seeds being sown years before the final product was even conceptualized. Those seeds finally began to grow when Hickman was made head writer of the Avengers books after Avengers vs X-Men, creating many plot threads over the next three years in preparation for this mega-event. There were a lot of hints dropped, but Hickman kept things low key for a bit, until he started New Avengers.

In New Avengers, Hickman focused on the Illuminati, who had discovered that entire universes were crashing into each in events called “incursions”, Earth being the centre point every time. There is a longer story here that I don’t want to drag you through at the moment, but the course of New Avengers was the watch the Illuminati deal with this threat, desperately trying to find a way to stop the incursions and save the multiverse from annihilation.

There were many important events during this time, but I’ll highlight some key incidents to set the stage for how we got to Secret Wars. After several successful attempts to stop the incursions, the Illuminati attempted to use the Infinity Gauntlet to “push back” another universe from colliding with their own. Though they succeeded, the Infinity Gems were destroyed (save for one), and their last hope was stolen. They discussed what to do next, coming to the conclusion that they may have to take drastic steps to save their own universe, even if that meant destroying another to save themselves. Captain America speaks out against this, stating that they could not allow themselves to fall to those methods. However, Iron Man and the rest of the group disagree, and in their desperation, wipe Cap’s memories of the threat, and continue their work.

Cap eventually regains his memories during the Original Sin event, leading to a confrontation between Iron Man and the Avengers. Iron Man, along with Bruce Banner, go underground with the rest of the Illuminati, and continue their work in secret. While other threats occupy the Avengers, the Illuminati resolve to destroy another universe to save their own, defeating that world’s heroes and planting a bomb on their Earth. However, to a man, they cannot bring themselves to do it... except Namor, who activates the bomb and destroys that universe, declaring, “We’re not heroes.” He is then cast out of the Illuminati, and in response forms a new Cabal, and sets to destroying entire universes to save his own.

This all leads to the Time Runs Out event, which I covered in our last episode, where the final two universes (the main Marvel U and the Ultimate U) collide, while the survivors of 616 enter a lifeboat to save themselves. Cap and Iron Man are supposedly killed in the battle, while the two Earth’s collide.

That brings us to the here and now, as Secret Wars gets underway in the biggest of ways. The story that follows, which I will do my best to condense and explain, has changed Marvel forever. 

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Tie Ins

Before we get to the main story, let’s get some things out of the way first. As with most comic book events, Secret Wars had tie-ins ranging from all across Marvel involving nearly every character anyone could even remotely think about. However, Secret Wars was a different animal than most, the very nature of the event forcing creators to take a far different approach to their work than other major events.

To this end, all of Marvel’s titles were suspended for the duration of the event, and replaced with other titles, most often by the same creative teams, many of whom were given a choice as to what kind of story they wanted to do during the event. I’m not going to plot detail every single one of them (Wikipedia’s already done that), so I’m just going to run through which titles were written, and how they contributed to the overall story of Secret Wars.

In short, the tie-ins were separated into three distinct groups. The first, Last Days, focused on specific characters during the final days before the White Event. The second, Battleworlds, were self-contained stories within a realm of Battleworld, whose outcome did not affect the overall structure of this new Universe in any major way. The third and largest of the tie-in groups was Warzones, big stories taken from all corners of Battleworld, the conflicts within them, all linking back to the overall state of Battleworld during the main story. Many of the events with Warzones had consequences within the main story as well, giving numerous layers to the Secret Wars storyline. First, we’ll start with Last Days.

Last Days

Heroes Final Stand

Last Days were written to wrap up the existing story lines for many of Marvel’s heroes and villains, the events of those stories taking place just before the White Event destroyed everything. Among these stories were Ms Marvel, Magneto, Loki, Spider-Woman, Silk, Ant-Man, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, Punisher, Silver Surfer, and Black Widow. These titles were meant to give closure to these characters, show us what happened to them during the final hours before the White Event.

Though it’s not essential reading, Last Days does lend some major closure for many the characters as the Marvel Universe is shaken to its core. The various titles have been collected by themselves, but there is an upcoming omnibus featuring every Last Days issue featured below to be released later this year.


A New Universe

The second group of titles are titles involving one of the Battleworld zone in their own self-contained story. The purpose of these stories is to present a clearer picture of the inner workings of the Battleworld, how the universe behaves, and what the rules are. Many of these deal with specific themes, some are mysteries, others are romances, other are adventures. No matter the type however, the point of these stories was to tell a story for each realm in Battleworld, giving the readers a bigger and clearer picture of what each zone was and what they represented. While they didn’t have much effect on the main universe of Battleworld or did not directly affect the main story, they did help paint a broader picture of what this new universe was.

Again, these are not essential reading, but Battleworlds do help paint a bigger picture of the universe of Battleworld, and are worth checking out using the links provided.


A Universe of Conflict

The third and final group of tie-in titles are the Warzones. These stories were more connected to the main story, many of them with direct consequences to the finale. Pulling from stories from across Marvel’s history, Warzones including tales from Age of Apocalypse, The Infinity Gauntlet, Old Man Logan, and many more. In some cases, the characters used in these stories would be seen in future Marvel Comics post-Secret Wars, most prominently Old Man Logan.

The most important of these stories by far was Ultimate End, which details the final days of the Ultimate Universe in the lead up to the battle with Earth 616 and the aftermath for some of those characters. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, one of the writers that had started the Ultimate Universe, the tale finishes off over a decade of work on that universe, giving it a fitting conclusion before Everything Dies.

While not absolutely essential, Warzones give us a much broader view of Battleworld and how that universe behaves, and lay the groundwork for the future of Marvel. The titles, many of which I would recommend without hesitation, can be found below.

Main Story

Destruction and Creation

With the final incursion crashing the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe together, Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, and Molecule Man stage one final fight against the Beyonders. Meanwhile, the two Earths begin a massive battle against each other, heroes on both sides dying as the two worlds collide. The Master and Mr Fantastic manage to save a number of people on special Life Rafts, but just as the incursion happens, Mr Fantastic is separated from his wife and children, and watches in horror as they are torn apart. The White Event finally occurs mere moments later, leaving only a white face of Dr Doom in its place...

With the universe destroyed, a new world rises in its place, made up of the remnants of the destroyed universes and known simple as Battleworld. Created by the God-Doom and policed by the Thor Corps. Doom acts as king and god on this world, married to a somehow alive Susan Storm and adoptive father to her children Valeria and Franklin. The various destroyed universes make up separate zones and territories, the majority ruled over by hand-picked barons, and all serve the God Doom.

Sometime after the universe was created, an object was found in one of the zones, a raft of unknown origins. Valeria Doom (Richards) informs Sheriff Strange (Doctor Strange) that the life boat they found seems to be older than the universe itself. Strange takes two Thors with to investigate, already having his suspicions as to what the object is. As the craft is opened, the three are attacked by someone inside, one of the Thors killed in the process. The second Thor runs back to Strange as the Maker and the Cabal emerge from their life boat.

Once the incident is reported, Doom sends the Thors to apprehend the Cabal, and then retires to rest. Once Doom is gone, Strange finds Miles Morales, who had stolen aboard the Life Boat with the Cabal, hiding in the throne room. He explains to Miles that Doom had managed to save pieces of the various universes in their fight with the Beyonders, weaving them together to form Battleworld, his power grown to cosmic levels. He then shows Miles that he had found the other Life Raft from the his own universe, and opens it to reveal Mr Fantastic and other heroes had survived the incursion, and had been in stasis for eight years, Doom having saved them all when he created the Battleworld!

Strange explains to his former comrades that the Beyonders were the ones behind the incursions all along. Doom and he had managed to destroy them, absorbing their power and then using it to create the Battleworld with Doom as its ruler. Meanwhile, The Cabal and Maker are found in Utopolis, and are attacked by the Thor Corps, resulting in a massive battle that rips the city apart. Strange and the raft survivors arrive at the battle, engaging with the Cabal. Doom arrives next, and attacks both parties. Cyclops, fused with the Phoenix Force, tries to stop him, but Doom kills him. He orders the invaders to surrender, but Strange teleports them to safety. Enraged at Strange’s defiance, Doom kills him.

Doom then goes to speak with the Molecule Man, who explains that he is a unique entity in the universe and that he and Doom were able to destroy the Beyonders by combining every Molecule Man in existence in a massive bomb. Meanwhile, the heroes of from 616 split up to avoid being found by Valeria, leading her Justice Division of the Future Foundation after them, though her motives are not clear why.

Over the next few weeks, Battleworld descends into Chaos. Someone known as The Prophet begins gathering an Army to fight against Doom, who in response sends his most loyal Barons to destroy the Prophet’s forces. Meanwhile, Valeria and the Future Foundation discover the source of Doom’s power, leading Valeria to become suspicious of her father. Meanwhile, both Maker and Mr Fantastic (the Reed Richards of their respective worlds) team up to try and stop Doom, sending Peter Parker and Miles Morales Castle Doom to find the source of his power. They encounter Valeria, who asks if anyone from the Raft was responsible for killing Strange as Doom had implied, and the Spider-Men confirm that they had not committed the act. She lets them go, only to have Molecule Man find them soon thereafter. Elsewhere, Panther and Namor reluctantly work together to find Strange’s armoury, discovering a number of powerful artefacts, though they will only work in Doomstadt.

As the war escalates, The Prophet is revealed to be Maximus the Mad, who leads his armies straight to Doomstadt. The Barons bring the fight to him, but soon almost every Baron or former Baron arrive to join in, many fighting for themselves as much as against Doom or the Prophet. While the battle rages, the Richards manage to sneak into Castle Doom themselves, discovering, “the most valuable thing left in the Multiverse.” At the same time, Panther and Namor go to the Deadlands, where Panther uses his status as Lord of the Dead to recruit the Zombies to fight against Doom.

The battle erupts into full on chaos as the most powerful beings from every Battleworld zone converge on Castle Doom in a massive melee. This continues until the giant Ben Grimm (codenamed the Shield) goes on a path of destruction across Doomstadt. Franklin Richards intervenes, revealing that he is the son of Doom and Susan. Grimm, unable to harm Susan’s child, stops his rampage, and Franklin uses Galactus to destroy him. Susan, watching it all from Castle Doom, is reduced to tears, Ben’s death the final knife in her heart. However, Valeria comes to her, and leads her into the castle where the two Reed Richards, the 616 Reed shocked to see his wife alive. The battle outside continues, Doom killing Thanos and seemingly on the edge of victory, until a portal opens, revealing Namor and Panther arriving with the army of zombies to wage one last battle, Panther wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, and challenges Doom to one last fight.

Inside Castle Doom, Reed convinces Susan trust him, and together with Maker and Valeria they go see Molecule Man. There, Maker betrays them, but is killed by Molecule Man in response, who then saves Reed. Doom arrives soon thereafter, realizing that his battle with Panther was a distraction, and mocks Reed for being unable to save the Multiverse. Reed counters, pointing to Doom’s insecurity that the first thing he did with his power was to take Susan and her children as his own. This insult makes Doom realize that Reed is right, and admits that Reed would have done better with the power he had stolen from the Beyonders. The Molecule Man then strikes, transferring Doom’s power to Reed destroying the Battleworld. With this new found power, Reed begins to recreate the various universe, declaring in the end that, “Everything Lives.” 


Rebuilding The Multiverse

Secret Wars was a mega-event, destroying and then rebuilding the entire Marvel Universe. However, that didn’t mean things were just going to go back to normal, far from it, the company changing in ways that fans and creators alike could have never predicted. The company used this as an opportunity to launch many of its books anew, nearly every character with a new status quo.

Many characters from the alternate universes had also made their way into the main Marvel Universe, most notably Miles Morales and Old Man Logan, each getting their own new book. The Avengers line up was shaken up as well, as were the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. The Squadron Supreme was even reformed with a new team of heroes from destroyed universe, many out for blood against those that killed their world, namely Namor (that guy kind of has it coming, let’s be honest).

These changes were met with some trepidation by fans, but in the months that followed, those fears were laid aside, many of the new directions applauded and appreciated. It is an exciting time for Marvel as they forged a bright new future in a brave new world, one that I am very much looking forward to exploring.


All New All Different Marvel

Secret Wars is probably the single most important storyline in Marvel history. It almost literally changed the very face of the company in ways that it had never been done before. Yes, there have been many mega-events in Marvel history, many of which are listed in this series, but Secret Wars was different. It rewrote the rules, changing EVERYTHING we thought we knew about Marvel Comics. Hickman created a tapestry, one that has forever coloured Marvel for better or worse, and redefined a multiverse to create a new, exciting age for Marvel Comics.

This whole series, which I started back last summer, has been about the milestones, about the major stories that changed Marvel forever. Sure, there have been a few that were blips on the radar, but others were massive tidal waves, washing away the old and bringing forth the new, and Secret Wars did that bigger than any event before it. Hickman and company should be proud of what they accomplished, for it was a mighty thing, and will be remembered in the annals of history of this most beloved art of comic books.

I want to thank everyone for reading this series, as this will likely be the last episode. I would also like to add special thanks to Tom Breevort and Joe Queseda for answering some questions when I was starting this series out, and everyone else that has followed along this crazy journey.

What’s next for Marvel? Honestly, I don’t know, but given the company’s history, I’m sure it will be anything but boring. Until next time True Believers, keep on reading!

Read 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.
Continuing my series on Marvel Events, we look at the road to the new Secret Wars.
Updated: 03/31/2016, GregFahlgren
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