Just in time for the 30th anniversary of DC Comics’ Crisis On Infinite Earths, Marvel gathered press and fans at Midtown Comics in New York City to make an announcement.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso made it official: “The Ultimate Universe, the Marvel Universe, they’re gonna smash together. Imagine there’s two pizzas, they’re gonna slap together, you can have all new toppings. Some toppings are gonna drop off. You’re gonna yell about some that are missing. You’re gonna love the new ones that are there. And that is the Marvel Universe moving forward. It’s more than just a Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe; it’s all the universes you can imagine.”
Secret Wars #1 arrives in May 2015, and it’s the culmination of a plan instigated by writer Jonathan Hickman over two years ago.
“Jonathan had actually talked to me about doing Secret Wars as a separate project, even before Avengers,” says SVP & Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. “I think even possibly right at the outset of his Fantastic Four run, or even before he’d gotten Fantastic Four. It was an idea that he had. And so when the time came he was offered Avengers, we decided this was the place to do that.”
First announced at New York Comic Con, Secret Wars was not much more than a title and a bunch of rumors and speculation. Since the title had already been used back in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars (1984) and Secret War (2004), many were wondering if this would be a retelling of one of those stories.
Over eight issues of main story, the 2015 Secret Wars will do essentially what Crisis on Infinite Earths did for DC Comics in 1986: reset everything to one single universe and wipe the slate clean. Only this slate-wiping is going to leave some unexpected pieces on the board. According to Alonso, Secret Wars “puts an end cap” on decades of story-telling with a brand new starting point for the Marvel Universe.
Hickman writes with Esad Ribic on art and Alex Ross doing covers. Brevoort and Alonso say this is probably the biggest event Marvel has ever done. And they’ve done plenty. Alonso now reveals that all of those events were leading up to this one story. “As everyone knows, we’re a big, big universe, a shared universe, and we’ve done a few events over the years. Every time we were planning an event — through Axis, Original Sin, AvX — every single time we’ve done an event, we’ve always had to be mindful of Secret Wars.”
The story has been building since the launch of the Marvel NOW! line of titles, which hit shelves about six months after DC launched the New 52.
Brevoort says, “Readers have begun to sort of get a sense of the whole picture, and seem to be becoming much more excited about it. Which is great. It means that the build-up is working.” And the enthusiasm inside the offices was there, as well. “Everybody within the infrastructure of Marvel, all the other divisions and so forth, got excited and got on board and saw the potential of what this thing could be. So it’s a lot bigger now than what was originally imagined.”
The basics: An event in the multiverse has triggered an intersection of multiple universes (called “an incursion”) — events in which two dimensions pass through each other, or they collide and one universe collapses. Black Panther has re-formed the Illuminati (the smartest Marvel heroes) to see if they can stop it, with no success.
In the end, the remaining pieces of the various universes will end up on Battleworld — the “melting pot” in which the new universe will be created. Alonso emphasizes that these are not alternate universes, or Elseworlds stories, or “What If” stories, but are the actual realities that will serve as “the heart and the center” of the new story universe.
An interactive Battleworld map has gone live at Marvel’s web site.
So far, the titles that have been revealed:
- Years of Future Past
- Civil War
- Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies
- A vs X
- House of M
- The End
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows
- Age of Apocalypse
- Armor Wars
- Old Man Logan
- Planet Hulk
- Future Imperfect
- Inhumans: Atillan Rising
- The Infinity Gauntlet
Brevoort says this is not the full line of titles, and that more will be announced over the next two weeks. There will also be a Secret Wars #0 released as a free offering on Free Comic Book Day — May 2, 2015 — which also happens to be the day after Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters.
The first two issues will both ship in May 2015, and Brevoort says issue #2 is a “phone book” sized issue.