Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios
Despite the continued success of Marvel Comics, the powerhouse comic company recently held a brief press conference to announce the latest and possibly most controversial of their comic book events. On the heels of the 2014 events “Original Sin” and “Axis,” which saw heroes and villains swap alliances in a strange twist of fate, Marvel revealed a secret they couldn’t wait to share—”Secret Wars.”
Beginning in summer of 2015, Secret Wars will change everything. The tagline for the event is “Everything Ends,” and Marvel made it clear they’re going big with this one. Rebooted from the 1980s version of Secret Wars, the premise is this: all of the Marvel universes are colliding! The standard universe, known as 616, is merging with the Ultimates universe, the Marvel Zombies universe, the Spider-Verse, and many, many more. When they do collide, heroes from all universes will be put to the test as they have a short amount of time to prevent the collision, or face the extinction of all the worlds. Will they do it? Spoiler alert: they won’t.
In the aftermath of the destruction of every Marvel universe, the heroes must fight to the death to see who will survive to see the dawn of a new day. From the ashes and rubble of the destroyed worlds and warring heroes, only those that remain at the end will continue to exist in the newly forged Marvel universe, called “Battleworld.” Everything before that point will be no more.
Does the sound of this make your head (and heart) hurt? Mine too.
It’s true that every so often, comic book universes need a bit of general housekeeping, so to speak. Characters die, characters come back to life, series end, and it all gets more confusing as time goes on. It’s not uncommon for events to shake up the canon universe every few years, but none have ever been this big.
Marvel promises that some long-dead characters will come back to life, and some will die off for good. It seems that no one truly dies forever in comics (with the exception of poor Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben from Spider-Man), but this could be the game changer. It has already been announced that in the months before Secret Wars begins, Wolverine of the X-Men and Deadpool will both be killed off. Thor will lose his hammer to an unidentified woman. Steve Rogers will pass the title of Captain America to the Falcon, Sam Wilson. Marvel has been preparing to shake things up for a long time now. But is it for the best?
Marvel has a great thing going right now, between its comic and cinematic universes. While I understand this clean slate could be a good place to start drawing in newer comic readers whose interests are piqued with the recent films or the ever-increasing scope of this comic company, I can’t help but fear this act is a huge disservice to the ages of storytelling that precede this event. In this, they are rewriting dozens of events that transpired over the last few decades so they can write anything they want without past restrictions stopping them. Many even fear that this is to align the comics more with the movies, instead of the movies drawing inspiration from the comics.
I don’t hate this idea, but I’m not in love with it. It smacks of DC Comics’ “Crisis of Infinite Earths” event, and I fear that this could take a similar path as DC’s less than popular “New 52” reboot, which was haphazard and ultimately disappointing in many respects. Marvel walks a very thin line with this event, which could refresh its storytelling and succeed wildly, or fail miserably and alienate even its most loyal fans. I find that I read Marvel more for the characters than the story, so ultimately for me it’s a matter of whether my favorites make it to the new world. If not, this whole event may be something Marvel should have kept secret.