Friday, February 13, 2015

Making Sense of Marvel's 2015 'SECRET WARS'

Article I wrote for Big Shiny Robot

All the way back in October, 2014, Marvel teased the launch of a new "SECRET WARS" series in 2015. The only information given at that time was that Jonathan Hickman ("NEW AVENGERS") would be writing the series while Esad Ribic ("THOR: GOD OF THUNDER") would be drawing it.

Fast forward to the end of January, 2015, when Marvel held a press conference announcing the official kickoff of "SECRET WARS," to be released in May, 2015. A quick summation of the almost half-hour long press conference is that all the different universes/realities within the Marvel Universe (e.g.; Earth-616, Ultimate Universe, et. all) are literally being smashed into one reality: a new planet, made up of countries containing the many universes/realities of the Marvel multi-verse. Marvel calls the countries of these realities "dominions" and in homage to 1984 "SECRET WARS," the planet is called Battleworld.

Are you still with me?

For example, the modern classic "OLD MAN LOGAN" – a series that stood alone from the main-stream Earth-616 Universe – will have its own dominion, called The Wastelands. However confusion ensued across Twitter, Reddit, and the vastness of the Internet when major events that took place within the Earth-616 Universe were announced to also have respective dominions. Fans were confused, thinking that those stories should be part of the Earth-616 dominion, where the stories were originally told. A case for the confusion includes the dominion Limbo.

The Limbo dominion is home to the 1989 Earth-616 company-wide crossover event of Inferno. However, different from the original series which ended with the mutant Magik throwing her soul sword into a gateway between Limbo and Manhattan, ultimately destroying the portal and saving the day, the dominion Limbo is a reality in which the heroes didn't win. The story of Limbo will take place in the newly announced title "INFERNO," by Dennis Hopeless ("SPIDER-WOMAN") and Javier Garron ("CYCLOPS"), in your local comic shop in May, 2015. So the dominions which house classic Marvel events (e.g.; Infinity Gauntlet, House of M, etc.) are spins on the stories that we haven't seen. However, the "INFERNO" series will be branded as a "WARZONES!" title.

Huh?! What happened to "SECRET WARS?"

Marvel is publishing the whole SECRET WARS event under four sub brands: "SECRET WARS," "LAST DAYS," "BATTLEWORLD" and "WARZONES!"

"SECRET WARS" is the main event title (i.e.; "AXIS," "INFINITY", "HOUSE OF M," etc.). While it will touch and affect all of the other titles, it will be a running mini-series, starting in May, 2015 and ending the same December. If you're worried that this series won't provide enough to read with just eight months worth of comics, Senior VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort said the second issue will be, "A gargantuan, oversized issue. It will give a full guided tour of the new Battleworld, and set up everything you need to know."

"LAST DAYS" is the brand that will show what happened to current story arcs and comic titles in the days just before the "incursion" – the word being used when realities smash together. So far there have not been many titles announced to carry the "LAST DAYS" sub brand, but it is my guess that many of your favorite ongoing titles will have a chance to wrap up story arcs this way. As of publishing this article these are the titles announced under the "LAST DAYS" umbrella:
  • LOKI: AGENT OF ASGUARD (starting with #14)
  • MAGNETO (starting with #18)
"BATTLEWORLD" is the sub brand showing the full story of the happenings across the surface of the combined-realities planet. In these titles expect to see conflicts that consume many of the dominions. As of publishing this article these are the titles announced under the "BATTLEWORLD" sub brand:
  • "SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD" – Anthology Series
  • "SECRET WARS JOURNAL" – Anthology Series
  • "ULTIMATE END" – sBrian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley (The original creative team of "ULTIMATES")
  • "MASTER OF KUNG FU" – Haden Blackman ("ELEKTRA"), Dalibor Talajic ("EMPIRE OF THE DEAD: ACT TWO")
"WARZONES!" is the sub brand for titles that will tell the individual stories of the dominions of Battleworld. So as an example, the aforementioned dominion The Wastelands' story will mostly likely be told in the "WARZONES!" title "OLD MAN LOGAN." As of publishing this article these are the announced titles bearing the "WARZONES!" branding:
  • "SECRET WARS 2099" ("SPIDER-MAN 2099" creative team – 2099 dominion)
  • "DEADPOOL’S SECRET SECRET WARS" ("DEADPOOL KILLS" creative team – a yet to be named dominion based on the 1984 Secret Wars)
  • "INFERNO" (Dennis Hopeless, Javier Garron – based on the 1989 Inferno event – Limbo  dominion)
  • "WHERE MONSTERS DWELL"  (Garth Ennis, Russ Braun – based on "WAR IS HELL" miniseries – possibly the named Valley of Flame dominion)
  • "SPIDER-VERSE" (Mike Costa, Andre Araujo – Spider-Verse event dominion – maybe the named Spider-Island dominon)
  • "M.O.D.O.K. ASSASSIN" (Christ Yost, Amilcar Pinna – Killville dominon)
  • "A-FORCE" (G Willow Wilson, Marguerite K. Bennett – Arcadia dominion)
  • "PLANET HULK" (Sam Humphries, Mark Laming – Greenland dominion)
  • "OLD MAN LOGAN" (Brian Michael Bendis, Andrea Sorrentino -- not confirmed but mostly likely The Wastelands dominion)
This is a Galactus amount to swallow. As most of these titles will be on the racks in May, your local comic shops will be making the orders in March. Obviously, not everyone is going to be able to keep up with every title. Which is why Marvel is also releasing the "TRUE BLEIEVER" brand of titles which are $1 reprints of the first issues of the events/stores which the dominions are based on (e.g.; "PLANET HULK," "OLD MAN LOGAN," etc.).
In writing this article, I've had's Battleworld map open on one monitor while writing on another. Jump over to the map to try and put these pieces together.
This new Secret Wars event is a massive undertaking by Marvel. Sadly, the real secret is knowing which titles will be the ones to pick up regularly and which ones to leave for a collected edition.

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