Marvel shocked, intrigued and upset fans everywhere earlier this week when it unveiled the true nature of the epic Secret Wars event set to kick off this May. This isn't just another miniseries in which the Marvel Heroes must unite to save the world or battle each other for the future of their kind. This is a "new era" of Marvel in which all of reality will be merged into a single patchwork of different realities and realms known as "Battleworld." The Marvel 616 universe, the Ultimate Marvel universe and all other Marvel universes will merge into this one place, and the battles fought in Secret Wars will determine what the Marvel Universe proper will look like on the other side.
So Marvel is essentially rebooting its universe, though it's still unclear how much of the Marvel past will come through Secret Wars intact. It's something the publisher has historically (though not exactly always) resisted, while rival publisher DC Comics has gone through several reboot-style events in the past three decades, most recently 2011's Flashpoint. We still don't know just how radically Secret Wars will alter Marvel Comics as we've long known them, and we likely won't know until the series is done, but Marvel's clearly taking a big leap with this event, and they're doing it not just through the Secret Wars miniseries by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic but through three "umbrellas" of various titles that will chronicle the various stages of Secret Wars.
On Wednesday, Marvel unveiled the first of these umbrella lines: Last Days, which will chronicle various Marvel characters dealing with the impending universal incursions of Secret Wars.
“What would you do if you learned today was your last day on Earth?” Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said. “That’s the question your favorite Marvel heroes are going to ask themselves in their LAST DAYS story lines as they brace for Secret Wars and the end of the Marvel Universe.”
On Thursday, Marvel revealed the second line: Battleworld, which Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Gabriel described as a chronicle of the "inner machinations" of Secret Wars, and the "new core monthly titles" at Marvel for the duration of the event.
“If you want the full story of what’s happening across the surface of this new planet, BATTLEWORLD branded titles are for you,” Alonso said. “Who polices Battleworld? How do the various domains interact? What happens when those domains go to war? What strange, never-before-seen creatures inhabit this world? What familiar faces will make appearances? Fans who want to fully understand how each sector interacts with the others can’t miss out on these books!”
And finally, today the third line was revealed: Warzones, which Gabriel described as books that will deliver "events within events" that will lay the groundwork for what comes after Secret Wars.
“If you want a glimpse of what the future holds, you’ll find it in the WARZONES titles,” Alonso said. “Our creators let their imaginations run wild as they lay down the foundations for the future. Whether we’re revisiting the most popular events from Marvel’s past or telling completely new stories, you won’t believe what we’ve got in store for you.”
So we know the three frameworks into which Marvel's comics outside the main Secret Wars event will fall, but we don't know which titles will fall where yet, or which creators will be responsible for each branch of the overall transformation. Marvel has promised us plenty more announcements in the weeks to come, though, so we'll have a clearer picture by the time Secret Wars arrives in May.