Spider-Man. Captain America. The Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy.
Marvel Comics has experienced an unprecedented renaissance in recent years, in no small part to the monumental success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Brand new fans have come streaming into comic book stores and have joined long-time fans in enjoying new takes on some fantastic characters. Yet one major criticism of Marvel comics is the decades of history and baggage that come with picking up a long-lived title. Well Marvel decided to address that problem recently… by ending the Marvel Universe.
No, they haven’t destroyed all our favorite characters. Not exactly. Instead, Marvel Comics is helming a new event called Secret War that effects every title and every character in the Marvel Universe. And on the other side of this event is an All- New Marvel Universe, waiting to be born.
The Set-Up: Secret Wars and Battleworld
The lead-up to this new All-New Marvel Universe started months ago when heroes like Iron Man and Captain America began to see cracks in the universe occurring. The main Marvel Universe that hosts most of their comics is known to fans as Universe 616, with an infinite number of universes out there. Those universes began to wink out one by one, until only two were left: Universe 616 Universe 1610, host to the Ultimate Marvel Comics line. These two universes crashed together in a cataclysmic event that effectively ended reality. But wait, there’s hope! Doctor Doom managed to take the reins of what was left and became, no joke, a god to reshape reality and save what people he could. He rescued pieces of alternate realities that were going to be destroyed as well, and forged all of them into a single reality and a single Earth: Battleworld. So began the Secret Wars.
The Secret Wars are still going on with every Marvel comic line reimagined as part of this new Battleworld. What’s more, popular alternate reality worlds and old storylines are being revisited thanks to Battleworld. Ever wondered what the world would look like if the X-Men failed to stop the Sentinels from taking over in Days of the Future Past? Or what would happen if the Marvel Zombies universe (which sounds exactly like what it sounds like) existed on Earth behind a GoT-like giant wall called (wait for it) The Shield? How about Captain America riding on a giant red T-Rex called the Devil. Yup, we got that too. Welcome to Battleworld, where anything is possible.
Of course none of this is going to last. Battleworld will re-solidify into one cohesive reality at the end of this storyline, bringing together popular characters who have long since lived outside of the mainstream Marvel Universe with old favorites from Universe 616.
So what do we have to look forward to in the All-New Marvel post-Secret Wars? Here’s the Top 10 best things to look forward to coming up in Fall 2015, with hints from some press-release images from Marvel.
#10 Honoring The Legacy While Revolutionizing For The Future
It’s not easy to make fans happy when you announce that you’re wiping out the Marvel Universe, only to resurrect it once more. Fans have gotten weary of the countless reboots that shake up comics, only to be undone years later. The Secret Wars however is the perfect way to tie all the convoluted threads together into one cohesive universe, sampling the best from all places, while testing out new ideas.
Take for example the inclusion above of both the elder Steve Rogers in his Captain America costume along with the new Captain America, Sam Wilson (previously the Falcon). This inclusion of both signals that Marvel’s aiming to keep the good old days while shaking things up.
That brings us to…
9 Old Favorites Are Back!
The promo images don’t pull any punches – this is the Marvel we all know and love. Iron Man is front and center, with plenty of the stars and stripes of Captain America. Fresh off his debut in Age of Ultron we see Vision, and there’s plenty of Spider-goodness all over the promos. Conspicuously underplayed are the X-Men and most mutants outside of Wolverine (see promo below), but it’s clear that Marvel isn’t out to forget where they’ve come from. In fact, they seem deeply rooted in the recent changes and new characters that have been so successful. Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel is front and center, as is Lady Thor, both of whom have had glorious success as headliners in their own comics lately.
So who else do we have to look forward to seeing?
8 Welcome To The Mainstream, Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen
Two of the most popular alternate reality characters have been the Ultimate Universe Spider-man, Miles Morales, and Spider-Gwen. Miles Morales became Spider-man after the Peter Parker of the Ultimates comics was killed. While plenty of fans were skeptical, overall Morales was considered wasted on the alternate Marvel universe. The same could be said for Spider-Gwen, an alternate reality Gwen Stacy who was bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker.
Both were limited in their reach by being isolated out of the mainstream before, but now the creation of Battleworld has given them a second chance. Each character has a huge following. Fans lobbied for Morales to be the Spider-man included in the upcoming Avengers films, while Spider-Gwen hit the top of the charts as the highest selling Marvel comic this May. Now they’ll get the chance to interact with the mainstream in a big way. For example, we know what Miles will be doing, because…
7 The All-New Avengers Is Shaking Things Up
One of the biggest teasers for the All-New Marvel Universe was the cover of the All-New Avengers, and with good reason. The Vision may just be the only original Avengers character on the new squad. New Captain America is front and center with Lady Thor calling down the lightning, and there’s talk that the Iron Man inside the suit isn’t Tony Stark, but perhaps Pepper Potts herself.
But it’s the three at the bottom that really make things exciting. We first have the space-hero Nova flying the Avengers colors, and one can only hope this Nova is the young Sam Alexander. That’ll make him one of three young New Avengers, because that’s Miles Morales front and center alongside Ms. Marvel! The mix of new blood plus a fantastically diversified roster (if that’s Pepper Potts, we’re looking at three women on the team!) makes the new Avengers line-up a breath of fresh air for the classic team.
And speaking of breaths of fresh air…
6 Welcome Back Wolverines
Ask any comic book fan for the last few years who the most overused character was for a while in Marvel comics, and the answer would probably come back Wolverine. For a while, Wolverine was on the Avengers, in multiple X-Men titles, as well as his own. He’d pop up just about anywhere. So it might have been some Wolverine burn-out that lead to his death in the Marvel 616 universe at the end of 2014. But now it looks as though someone else has picked up the yellow and blue costume: Wolverine’s clone, X-23! Still, don’t count Logan out yet, because look who’s standing beside her in the promo images. It seems Old Man Logan, the Wolverine from a dark alternative future, will be joining us in the mainstream, so we get the best of both worlds.
On the subject of multiple worlds…
5 Is That Agent Coulson?
Why yes, it is! Marvel had debuted an Agents of SHIELD comic before the Battleworld shake-up, but it’s no secret that some of the comic characters were morphing to become more like their Cinematic Universe counterparts (like how Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch all of a sudden were revealed not to be mutants in the comics after all, much like in the movie). Still, if the above promo images are to be believed, some other characters might get a make-over. Does that Daredevil suit put to mind the character in the Netflix TV series more than the red-suited Man Without Fear? And what about The Thing in his black and red suit? And there’s Ant-Man down in front. With this reshuffle, there’s a real chance to set up characters to flow more seamlessly alongside their movie counterparts, which can bring a whole new crop of movie fans into reading comics. Who knows, maybe we’ll see the Sam L. Jackson looking Nick Fury from the Ultimate universe as our new Nick Fury.
Either way, it really seems as though…
4 The Repercussions of Battleworld Have Consequences
The promos above indicate that the effects of Battleworld aren’t just going to go away or be forgotten. The end of Secret Wars will presumably mean the end of Doctor Doom as, y’know, god of reality. On Battleworld he’s married to Sue Storm, sits on an Iron Throne-like World Tree chair, and basically is omnipotent. So what happens to Doom at the end of it all? That guy down in front in the raggedy green hoodie looks awful like a perhaps younger Doom (UPDATE: Marvel announced this is actually a moody looking Karnak). That brings up a good question about how much people will remember about the previous world, and what they’ve left behind and lost, heroes and villains all.
And while we’re on the subject of bad guys…
3 Justice, Like Lightning…
The red-white-and-blue wearing man in the second promo image down front is none other than the hero known as Citizen V. Citizen V was the leader of a team known as the Thunderbolts, a team of villains brought together by V (secretly Baron Zemo) that pretended to be good guys and ultimately reformed. The Thunderbolts was a popular comic and went through many incarnations, but that original Thunderbolts team left a lasting impression on fans. Does the appearance of Citizen V signal a return of the Thunderbolts? And if so, who’s on the team? And if the Thunderbolts can come back, then who else? The Defenders?
We can’t know until they announce the new comics line-up, but one thing is for certain…
2 Women of The Marvel Universe Are Leading In A Big Way
Lady Thor. Captain Marvel. Ms. Marvel. Spider-Woman. Storm. Spider-Gwen. Angela. Black Widow. The list of Marvel women characters who have been leaving their mark over the last year goes on and on.
For months, solo titles featuring these characters have been at the top of the sales charts, and it seems that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Women characters have been given more character driven, well-written stories. Costumes have been redesigned to give them more practical yet stylish looks. Secret Wars continued highlighting women characters with titles like A-Force, which follows the all-woman team of heroes lead by She-Hulk. Now the shake-up gives creators a chance to double down and continue this amazing era for gender diversity in their Marvel roster.
No matter what we see though, there’s one last important point…
1 All-New Marvel Is A Perfect Entry Point For Fans
Secret Wars lets fans experience some serious nostalgia for great storylines gone by, and then cleans the slate for everything to begin anew. This All-New Marvel is the result, a new universe seems poised to be the perfect place for fans to easily get into Marvel comics. Moreover, it sits at a wonderful crossroads between honoring the classic comics beloved by so many and revolutionizing towards fresh innovation. That blank slate lets fans new and old come together and start again in the same place, no matter where they began in their love for Marvel.
There may be a lot of unanswered questions about the new Marvel universe (for one thing, where are all the mutants in the promos?!) but one thing is for certain: this new Marvel Universe has the opportunity to bring the passion for it’s movies and television and comics new and old together in a big way. We’ll be keeping an eye on updates about the all-new universe, set to debut this fall.
Sound off, Marvel fans: what are you most excited about in this All-New Marvel universe?