Ever since the event was first announced back in October, we've been wondering just how high the stakes would get in Secret Wars, the upcoming Marvel Comics mega-event from writer Jonathan Hickman (Avengers) and artist Esad Ribic (Thor: God of Thunder). After weeks of teasing us with new versions of old Marvel events like Civil War, Age of Apocalypse, Planet Hulk and more, the publisher finally revealed in November that the event will bring back Battleworld, a place where multiple Marvel realities will collide and struggle for survival.
So we've known for a while to expect a kind of battle between various Marvel realities and characters, but what we didn't know was how the event would be set off, what the stakes would be and how the Marvel Universe would be altered by Secret Wars. Now Marvel has given us a big reveal.
At a press conference held today at New York City's Midtown Comics, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Breevort and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso announced that the "incursion" event that's been built up for months in Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers series will be the incursion of the main Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Marvel Universe. As a result, both universes will cease to exist, and the Battleworld of Secret Wars will be the place where the new Marvel Universe is born.
"The Ultimate Universe, the Marvel Universe, they're going to slap together," Alonso said. "Imagine two pizzas: They're going to combine toppings, some toppings are going to drop off. And that is the Marvel Universe moving forward. It's more than the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, it's all the universes you can imagine. That is the Marvel Universe going forward."
If you watched that big Battleworld teaser back in November, you probably noticed that only about half of the "countries" laid out on the map were identified. We know Civil War is a factor, and Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies, and Planet Hulk, but there are still plenty of blank spaces to be filled on that map. To fill in those spaces, Marvel just launched an interactive Battleworld map which you can browse on the Secret Wars site, and also revealed that even more Secret Wars tie-in announcements are on the way in the coming weeks. Once the Battleworld map is complete, we'll have a picture of the landscape on which the new Marvel Universe will be forged.
"Various characters will live their lives, and contend with this new situation, and set up all the building blocks and the bedrock of what the new Marvel Universe will be going forward," Brevoort said.
If you think this sounds quite a bit like the Convergence event DC Comics is launching in April, or even like the Crisis on Infinite Earths event DC launched more than two decades ago, you're not alone, but Alonso promised that Secret Wars will have a legacy all its own in the Marvel Universe. It's not just a reshuffling of universes. It's a "new era" for Marvel Comics.
This is putting an endcap to decades of stories, and starting a new era. When you see the scope of the stories, you'll see what we're willing to do," Alonso said. "If we wanted to resurrect Gwen Stacy, this would be the place to do it, wouldn't it? If you ever wondered what would happen if you take the 'Age of Ultron' universe and perch it next to the 'Marvel Zombies' universe, this would be the place to do it."
So, Marvel has put its cards on the table. A big, universe-altering gamble is on the way that seems poised to change the course of Marvel Comics like nothing before. Now we just have to see if it'll work.
Secret Wars kicks off with a Free Comic Book Day zero issue (which Alonso described as a great jumping-on point for new readers) on May 2, followed by the first and second issues of the series proper later in the month. Check out full video of the announcement below.