Marvel's announcement on Tuesday that the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe are coming to an end, as realities collide in Secret Wars' "Battleworld," has thrown a lot of fans into a tizzy. For the long term there's a lot of confusion about which characters and continuities will survive the experience, and whether Secret Wars will end in a reboot. In the short term, there are the mysteries of Battleworld to unravel. Just which of Marvel's alternate realities will form this Frankenstein planet?
Perhaps the most popular American comic book writer working today, Brian Michael Bendis joined Seth Meyers on NBC's Late Night to promote his upcoming Powers TV show, and to pitch Marvel's Secret Wars event series to everyone out there in TV land. According to Variety, Seth Meyers' nightly show is seen by over 1.5 million viewers, which is surely the largest number of people to be confused by superhero comics continuity in any one moment -- at least since the original Secret Wars was published in 1984, when there were more people buying comics to be confused.
Everything changes and nothing will ever be the same again. At a live filmed announcement at Midtown Comics in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso and executive editor Tom Brevoort announced a new status quo for the Marvel Universe, with worlds colliding to form a mish-mash of continuities that will be the setting for all Marvel comics from May 2015 onwards.
Most of what Alonso and Brevoort announced was already known or guessed at; Secret Wars, an eight-issue series by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, marks the culmination of the incursion story that Hickman began at the outset of Marvel NOW with Avengers #1 and New Avengers #1 back in late 2012, and will brings together multiple continuities and alternative universes in a single "Battleworld". What's new in all this is the confirmation that this event reshapes -- some might say 'reboots' -- the Marvel Universe for the (foreseeable) future.
Do you like stories about characters from disparate comic-book universes coming together to meet and perhaps fight in an arena of an all-powerful being's choosing?
If not, you may want to skip 2015's event comics. On Monday, DC unveiled its plans for Convergence, its spring 2015 event about a universe-spanning conflict. Now, after three-plus weeks of teases, Marvel has added some clarity to its summer 2015 event, Secret Wars. Guess what it's going to be via a new, minute-long trailer.
If you guessed "a universe-spanning conflict," you are correct.
Three years ago, DC Comics hit the continuity reset button with the launch of The New 52, seemingly wiping away the past 26 years of stories since Crisis on Infinite Earths.
But like superheroes, no story stays dead forever.
Next April, DC launches Convergence, a nine-part event series that brings the publisher's regular publishing schedule to a halt while bringing characters, places and concepts from DC's past into its current universe. It's also the culmination of the weekly series The New 52: Futures End and Earth 2: World's End, both of which wrap up just before Convergence launches.
For the third week in a row, Marvel has released a string of teasers for summer 2015 comics that revisit or at least reference previous Marvel events, at a rate of one a day -- except Tuesday, which was all about the movies.
Last week, the wrench in the gears was a teaser that seemed to imply that the Ultimate Universe was coming to an end. There's nothing quite as big in this week's batch, which included Avengers vs. X-Men, Age of Apocalypse, and Future Imperfect. But one event of the bunch does seem... kind of risky. It's called Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows and it revisits Peter Parker's marriage... and daughter.
One of the more memorable Hulk stories in the character's long history, Peter David and George Pérez's Future Imperfect tale from 1993 saw the Hulk transported nearly 100 years into an imperfect dystopian future ruled by an even more powerful version of himself called, amazingly, the Masetro, and in complete command of his distinctly non-savage, less imperfect Bruce Banner mind.
in 2015, Marvel readers will be transported back to that alternate, imperfect future where there is only Hulk as part of what we are increasingly believing to be a dimension of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic's Secret Wars -- itself a callback of sorts to a famous if imperfect storyline of Marvel's past, whose possibly imperfect future arrival has been heralded by a torrent of teasers referencing other similarly momentous if imperfect events of the past.
This teaser, provided exclusively to ComicsAlliance, was drawn by Dale Keown, one of very few Hulk artists whose visions of the green goliath could be described as definitive.
Another week, another batch of Marvel promos for summer 2015 events with familiar titles: Infinity Gauntlet, House of M, Old Man Logan, Inumans: Attilan Rising. They joins a slew of other recycled titles including Armor Wars, Civil War, and Planet Hulk.
Then, today, things changed up a little. Marvel sent out an email for its newest summer 2015 event in the same format as it has been (one image with no text besides a title), but it doesn't have the title of an old series, though it does share a subtitle with a series of books that started about 12 years ago. It's called simply Ultimate Universe: The End.
Maybe Marvel is trying to do something about climate change.
That's one possible explanation for why the publisher is recycling the titles of half a dozen, and probably more, of its events from over the years. In the past week, Marvel has announced events titled Planet Hulk and Armor Wars, and before that we found out about Civil War, Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies, Secret Wars, and the slightly retitled Years of Future Past.
Jonathan Hickman has been building up to something big for the Marvel Universe for the entirety of his run on Avengers and New Avengers. His 'incursions' -- alternate realities colliding and wiping each other out -- were the driving force behind Infinity and the splinter that divided the Avengers in Original Sin; they now form the backdrop to his books as they skip to a new status quo under the 'Time Runs Out' banner. There was always a plan.
Now we know the culmination of that plan. As announced at a Times Square event for New York Comic-Con on Thursday evening, Hickman's Avengers runs will end in May 2015, and he'll be joined by artist Esad Ribic on a year-long epic event book called... Secret Wars.
No, for real. Secret Wars. Maybe they don't know that the name's been used before? No-one tell them. They've been working on this for ages; they'll be so disappointed.