Marvel’s mega crossover event Secret Wars is almost upon us, and it’s bigger than anything they’ve ever done before. While many of us are no strangers to such events, this one may prove to be a little overwhelming, with around 40 books tying in, and about 30 titles being cancelled. While previous events such as X-Men: Inferno came close to this scale, no book was cancelled to make way for it, and while the Age of Apocalypse saw every X-Men title cancelled. this was only for four months and the rest of the universe carried on as normal. Secret Wars combines both these models and cancels much of their current line, and having everyone feature in some way.
With so many cancellations, new titles and tie ins, as well as the three different title “banner” groupings Marvel has announced, how are we meant to keep up? And which book do you read if you want to keep up with the goings on of your favourite character? With any luck, I hope to dispel some of that fear and confusion with this article., where I will be going over every single title announced so far, who is featured, and which book it replaces!
You can’t really talk about Secret Wars without going into its namesake, the Original Secret Wars back in 1984. In this storyline, the cosmic being known as the Beyonder in effect kidnapped several of Earth’s heroes and villains and whisked them away to Battleworld, a planet composed of parts of other planets (Earth included). After being forced to battle for the reward of a wish granted, the heroes and villains go to war, and when all is said and done, all sent home to the exact point in time of their departure (Except for Thing who decides he wants to stay behind).
However, despite the seeming lack of consequences of returning to the exact moment they left, this event did have lasting effects. Because of Thing’s decision to remain on Battleworld, the lineup of the Fantastic Four changed. Colossus’s brief affair with a native alien changed his feelings towards Kitty Pryde. The X-Men felt a little differently towards Magneto after he was lumped in with the heroes by the Beyonder, and Spider-Man got a brand new black costume that turned out to be the symbiote which ended up causing him years of grief. This is widely considered the first crossover of it’s kind, and is fondly remembered by many, despite the fact it was all a ploy to sell toys.
This Secret Wars works off the same Battleworld riff, however instead of planets, the different regions are made of Earths from many realities across the multiverse. The Beyonders are involved somehow (as they have been killing off entire timelines), as are many key players from the original, namely Doctor Doom and Molecule Man. Also, because this is much larger in scope than the original, it doesn’t stop at just a relative handful of heroes – everyone is involved in some way.
The Main Event
While we know the main core of the event will unfold in the main title series, Secret Wars, we don’t really know much more than that. All this has been years in the making and will be wrapping up several years of storytelling by Jonathan Hickman, who has been hinting at something huge since way back in SHIELD. More currently, his run on Avengers and New Avengers has been dealing with the omniversal threat of incursions. Incursions are when Earths from two parallel universes collide with each other, resulting in the deaths of both of the home realities of the Earths.
Back in January, it was announced that the Marvel Universe as we know it is coming to an end, and this is due to – you’ve guessed it – an incursion. We’ve already seen this month in both Ultimate Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Deadpool that Earth-616 (the mainstream Marvel Universe we’ve been reading about since Marvel Comics #1 way back in 1939) is next, and so is Earth-1610 (the Ultimate Universe line) are both heading for an incursion with each other. Both will die, as Hickman has been telling us for quite a while now, Everything Ends.
However, the presence of both 616 and 1610 on Battleworld leaves us wondering…are these incursions as lethal as we have been led to believe? Regardless of whoever or whatever caused these incursions to begin with, some realities have survived – at least partially – on Battleworld, a patchwork quilt of a planet composed of chunks of Earth from across the Multiverse. The main series will likely deal with many main characters trying to make sense of what exactly happened, why it happened, who did it, and how to revert it.
Marvel has labelled each of the tie ins with different banners to help identify what sort of setting/theme the book will address. We have Battleworld, Warzones!, and Last Days.
Battleworld titles will be dealing with issues and characters that play a direct part in influencing the main book, and will see familiar characters in unfamiliar settings.
Warzones! titles will feature domains of the Battleworld that are less tied to the main event, but will supposedly play apart in shaping the future of the Marvel Universe after the event. Personally I think a lot of stuff introduced in these titles will serve as retcons/soft reboots to make the MU less confusing to new fans afterwards.
Last Days titles will deal with the heroes left to deal with the chaos around them as the rest of the world is in upheaval. Some of these, though, will deal with a wider scope (but I will get to those later).
On the map of Battleworld we have laid out before us a mishmash of different regions, each with a name, and each with an assigned “reality of origin”. Some of these we have seen before, some are new, and some are classified, presumably to be revealed at some point during the event itself.
In addition to those areas outlined in the key, we also know that Knowhere, the severed Celestial head, will serve as Battleworld’s moon. There’s no word yet on the ocean, but presumably Atlantis comes into play (though going by the pattern, no two zones are from the same timeline, so it will be an alternate version of Atlantis). There are also mentions of other zones which do not appear on the map, but it is safe to say these are merely regions within each zone (for instance, the map links the area known as The City to Korvac Saga, but Korvac solicits mention Forest Hills and Holy Wood as the setting, so it is likely these kingdoms both sit within The City).
The Cancelled Comics
At present, we know that loads of books will be cancelled, a good deal of them being relatively new, and best selling. Here is the list as given by Marvel themselves.
All-New Ghost Rider
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin
Guardians of the Galaxy
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon
Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man
Spider-Man & The X-Men
Superior Iron Man
If any of these are your favourite books, fear not! A good deal of them are only being cancelled to make way for the influx of tie-ins. For instance, All-New Ghost Rider makes way for Ghost Racers, Captain Marvel is replaced by Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, Thor by Thors, and so on.
As for all the X-Men books being cancelled, there is about an equal number of tie-ins so it balances out (same with the Avengers and Spider-Man book families). The only book which doesn’t seem to have a Secret Wars counterpart, direct or otherwise, is Fantastic Four, but given Reed’s heavy involvement with incursions, and the Invisible Woman now hanging with the SHIELD Illuminati, and Johnny Storm supposedly joining the Inhumans (?!) it’s likely that all FF characters will appear in a title in some capacity, even if separate from each other.
Needless to say, we don’t have any idea what shape the Marvel Universe will take after Secret Wars, but it is safe to say a great deal of the cancelled books will resume in some way (probably a renumbering) once the event is over. It is unlikely Captain Marvel will just stop having her own book, given she has a film coming up, and likewise with Thor. Some of the cancelled titles were nearing a conclusion to their arc anyway though, so it is unknown whether titles such as Elektra, Iron Fist and Storm will continue (but it’s doubtful they will fade into obscurity afterwards). In the following pages, I’ll highlight what each title will deal with, their release date, as well as the writer and artist.