Alright Geek Girl-verse. Usually I spend my time giving you the news coming out about comics and the films and TV shows that revolve around them, but this time, I’m giving you an opinion piece on Marvel’s big Secret Wars announcement.
First of all, some quick background if you’re not familiar with it.
Tom Brevoort (VP of Publishing) and Axel Alonso (Editor-in-Chief) announced on Tuesday that the landscape of the Marvel Universe is forever changing with all of their separate realities collapsing in to one. The biggest of these, the Ultimate Universe and the Marvel Mainline Universe (1610 and 616 respectively) will coalesce into some realm known only as Battleworld. Not only that, but pretty much every last reality Marvel has ever entertained will combine into one. We’ll have the Age of Apocalypse reality next to the Marvel Zombies reality next to the House of M reality, all of them fighting with each other, clashing over any number of issues. They’ve even announced that the Attack on Titan/Marvel crossover, previously only released as a manga in Japan, will have a spot in Battleworld.
If you’ve been reading Jonathan Hickman’s, Steve Epting and run on Avengers and New Avengers, you’ve been expecting this for some time. In those comics, universes are colliding in events they refer to as “Incursions.” In each reality, Earth is the touch point for each incursion and either one Earth survives the event, or both are destroyed. The Illuminati (Iron Man, Black Panther, Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Strange, Namor, Beast and Hulk) have all known about it for some time now, doing their best to combat the event. Not all the earths were inhabited, and some of the events took care of themselves, but then they finally had to do the impossible and destroy an entire earth to save their own. When Captain America and his Avengers team found out, everything went sideways and a new Civil War erupted between the two teams, shattering old alliances and forming new ones.
It’s THIS event that is leading to Secret Wars. As Brevoort said at their press conference:
“‘Secret Wars’ is the culmination of the storyline that Jonathan has been telling, beginning with the first issue of ‘Avengers’ and ‘New Avengers’ that he wrote. Readers have begun to get a sense of the whole picture, and seem to be becoming much more excited about it, which is great. This is something that we’ve been headed towards literally since the start of Marvel NOW!.”
Alonso then went on to say,
“The Ultimate Universe, the Marvel Universe, they’re going to slap together. 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.”
The two universes will collide in Avengers, but Secret Wars is where the fighting will take place. As Brevoort said,
“The heroes of those two worlds will have eight hours to figure out what to do about it before both universes are destroyed. And they won’t. I’ve ruined ‘Secret Wars’ #1 for you!”
He then went on to speak about the “detritus” of Battleworld and what that is, saying it is the “melting world from which the new Marvel Universe will be fermented.” He then went on to say, “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.”
So, with that entire background, the big bomb that everyone is upset about is this:
“Once you hit ‘Secret Wars’ #1, there’s no Marvel Universe, there’s no Ultimate Universe, it’s all Battleworld.”
Alonso then added:
“None of these stories are What-Ifs or alternate reality stories. And they will have legs. They will impart new things into the Marvel Universe going forward.”
This sounds like a complete reboot to a lot of people, similar to what DC did with their New 52 line.
In an interview after the event, when asked about this, Alonso responded with
“Read and find out. Like I said, we are taking some chances here, but I will stand by — I think Tom (Brevoort) will back me — our history’s not broken. We don’t view our history as being broken or something that we need to fix. If anything we think we are building upon that history and we are taking the best and biggest pieces of it and seeing how easily they coexist with one another. We don’t expect all our moves to make everyone happy, but we think it will make for a really fascinating read through ‘Secret Wars’ and beyond.”
So, with ALL of that background, here’s the deal. There are a lot of fans that are super pissed about the Secret Wars event coming up in May of this year, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribic, because they are promising that it will change everything.
And I get it, I totally do, change is always scary, especially when it comes to something many of us fans have invested in so heavily. I mean, my god, I spend as much on comics and comic paraphernalia each year as I do on food. I’m very invested in this and I very much do not want them to take away the history and continuity that I love.
But I have hope and I want to give you that same glimmer of hope with this one thought: comics always do this. Is this event being billed as one of the biggest shake-ups they’ve ever done? Yes. It’s very likely that it will be every bit as big and universe-shattering as they are saying, but, again, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
The fact of the matter is that comics are a fluid medium, always changing, always doing their best to keep up with a fickle public perception and the world events erupting all around them. At their best, comics give us entertaining stories that also happen to examine current political events and the human condition — our struggles, our triumphs, our fears and dreams. At their worst, at the very least they are still entertaining.
In this particular instance, we have some of the top names in comics working on this story for a few years now. They have to keep up with the times. The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is bringing more and more fans to the comic books but the continuity can be dense and intimidating to a new comer. I do a Marvel Movie Podcast with the Popcorn Network every Thursday and I get fans telling me, all the time, that they’ve never read a comic but really want to and they have no idea where to start. This is Marvel’s answer to that. HOW COOL IS IT THAT WE’RE GETTING NEW FANS! A new generation of comic book lovers are dying for a world to dive in to and Marvel is doing their best to answer that.
And, take solace in the fact that Disney is looking to make a property that fits their ancillary rights for toys and merchandising, NOT to shoe horn the world of the MCU into the comics. That means they’ll still remain mostly separate, influenced by each other, sure, but still separate. But even if they combined, WHO CARES!? We still get awesome comics from insanely talented artists and creators! Honestly, it’s not like they really pay that much attention to the continuity even now, typically forgetting most things that came just a couple years before.
And yeah, there will be things that not all of us love — hell, I hate that they killed Joe Morton in Terminator 2, but that movie is still one of my favorites. And X-men 3: The Last Stand, could never jump off of enough cliffs for my taste, but the first two movies are still awesome, as have been the last two movies.
The argument I’m trying to make is that the individual elements of a thing should not speak for the whole of the thing. Yes, Spider-Man might go in some new direction we’re not expecting, like in Brand New Day. Sure, the line-up to the Avengers will change, there will be fights that seem silly, villains that turn good and heroes that turn bad — whatever. This is Marvel, they’ve earned our trust time and time again, they have some of the best comic book writers, artists and editors in the world, so let’s all chill out.
But if they even TOUCH Doctor Strange — I’ll kill a man. (#winkyface)
All that being said, In Marvel We trust.
Follow Matt Key on twitter, here!
He has two cats and knows all things about Doctor Strange but little else.