The Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe are coming to an end as realities collide in Marvel's 2015 event Secret Wars. Marvel has yet to reveal what shape its publishing line will take once the dust of that event has settled, but in the meantime the line is largely taken over by books set on "Battleworld," a Frankenstein planet of alternate realities all mushed together.
When first announced, Battleworld was an inscrutable mystery with only a few of the blanks filled in on Marvel.com's interactive map. We pieced together the clues from there, from the 'Battleworld Forged' video teaser that Marvel put out last year, and from Alex Ross's cover for Secret Wars #1, and added a few assumptions of our own to build a fuller picture. We've since updated our guide to Battleworld every time Marvel has updated the map or released a flurry of new announcements. Now our guide is almost complete. Check out the 'domains' — and the various Secret Wars titles — below.
The clue is in the name; this Greenland is the Planet Hulk zone. This version of Planet Hulk sees writer Sam Humphries and artist Marc Laming drop an axe-wielding Captain America and his buddy Devil Dinosaur in the middle of a world of Hulks.
Planet Hulk is inevitably located right on top of...
The Future Imperfect world. Long-time Hulk writer Peter David will oversee the Future Imperfect series, with art by Greg Land. Ruby Summers, futur daughter of Scott Summers and Emma Frost, will lead the rebellion against the despotic Maestro, aka the future Hulk.
The Age of Apocalypse reality cuts a swath down the middle of the main Battleworld continent. One AoA character — Kitty Pryde — will show up in Star-Lord & Kitty Pryde (below), but the main storyline sees mutants fighting for and against the despot En Sbah Nur. You know, just like in the original Age of Apocalypse! Only this time Fabian Nicieza and Gerardo Sandoval are in charge.
Located right on the borders of Apocalypse, the Egypt connection provides a thematic link; this is the home to the Egypt-themed Forever Yesterday world created by the villain Sphinx in the pages of New Warriors. No word on what book will be set here.
A strip of land inspired by the classic Iron Man Armor Wars storyline. We wondered if this zone might tie in to the current Superior Iron Man storyline in which a twisted Tony Stark is deliberately using his tech to reshape the world. In fact it's about a world where everyone wears Iron Man-style armor, designed by either Tony or his brother Arno. You can find out more in our announcement interview with the creative team of James Robinson and Marcio Takara.
One of three Classified zones. This one divides Egyptia and Technopolis on one side from The Regency and King James' England on the other. If there's a theme to this cluster of worlds, it may be non-mutant futures and pasts. And that's not so much a theme as an enormous echoing hall. Let's say it's Earth X. Why would Marvel keep that a secret? No idea.
On the north coast of the main Battleworld continent, this island revives the Spider Island storyline in which Manhattan was overrun with millions of Spider-Men. We initially guessed this might tie in to Spider-Verse, but that's actually revived over in the zone called 'Arachnia,' so presumably this is just a straight-up Spider-Island-themed domain of Spider-Men. Christos Gage and Paco Medina tell the story of Flash Thompson's efforts to dethrone the Spider Queen.
The name traditionally refers to the period when King George III was too mad to rule the United Kingdom and his son, the Prince Regent, ruled in his place — you know, like in that movie. But this is actually a world based on the One More Day story, in which Peter Parker used the devil to divorce his wife. Cool idea, bro.
The name Regency may relate to the Spider-Man story Reign, set in a future where Peter and Mary-Jane remained married (though a regency and a reign are technically mutually exclusive concepts). In this reality the couple are still married and raising their daughter May together. Dan Slott and Adam Kubert are the creative team on Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.
Another regal name. This is not, as I reflexively imagined, a world in which reality warper Jamie Braddock is king. The clue here is that King James I ascended the English throne in 1603, which makes this the world of Marvel after 1602. That is, the world after Marvel 1602. Get it? Get it?
But Marvel isn't calling the series set in this domain '1603'; instead it's called 1602: Witch Hunter Angela, in which Asgard's assassin is re-imagined as, presumably, an agent of King James' notorious crackdown on witches, courtesy of writers Marguerite Bennett and Kieron Gillen, artist Stephanie Hans, and various guest artists. Intriguingly, the story will feature a 1602 version of the Guardians of The Galaxy.
Created by Doug Moench and Mike Ploog for Marvel Super Action in the late 1970s, Weirdworld is a magical fantasy land full of dwarfs and elves and... that sort of thing.
We guessed this generous expanse of Battleworld was set aside for any and all strange fantasy scraps that Marvel happens to have kicking around, and that seems to be the case. Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo will explore Weirdworld in a sword-and-sorcery adventure series starring Arkon, the extra-dimensional warlord created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema.
Marvel's pulpy pseudo-Shambhalla of Eastern mysticism. This dominion will be the setting for a Master Of Kung-Fu series starring an alternate reality Shang-Chi, from the creative team of Haden Blackman and Talibor Talajic.
We guessed that this refers to Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme world, in which the Cosmpolis-based heroes tried to create a perfect society through "the Utopia Program."
Close; it's actually the home domain of the Squadron Supreme's evil predecessors, the Squadron Sinister, created by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. Mark Guggenheim and Carlos Pacheco will tell the story of these villainous analogs of DC's Justice League.
The home of Killraven and the War of the Worlds Martian tripods, and maybe some other pulpy sci-fi elements. Several Marvel comics in recent years have shown flashes of a future in which Marvel characters interact with tripods. Maybe this is where it happens?
The second classified region sits nestled beside Utopolis, which doesn't offer many clues, and atop a cluster of pulpy and fantastical worlds. Maybe this is the Conan-inspired realm of Kulan Gath? But again, I've no ideas why Marvel would keep that a secret.
We thought this region might house the last of the Captain Britain Corps and the omniversal overseers now seeking new employment, and maybe the seeds of a rebuilt multiverse.
Of course, we had the wrong Captain Britain; this domain focuses on Faiza Hussain, the inheritor of the title in Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk's Captain Britain and MI:13. Now she's starring in Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders, by Al Ewing and Alan Davis, with a team that includes White Tiger, She-Hulk, Prowler (in a Spider-fied costume) and a young iron person named Kid Rescue.
Arachne is the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter, so we hoped this might be a reference to Spider-Gwen's reality. We were partly right. This is actually the Spider-Verse book, helpfully titled Spider-Verse, starring Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man: India, Spider-Girl, Spider-UK and Spider-Ham, and written by Mike Costa and drawn by Andre Aruajo.
The 2002 comic series Marville, written by then-publisher Bill Jemas, is rightly regarded as one of the worst comics Marvel ever published. The Battleworld teaser video placed a Skottie Young AvX babies cover in this region, and we guessed that meant this was Skottie Young world rather than AvX world — and maybe a home to all of Marvel's satirical characters, including Obnoxio the Clown and Teen Hulk from the humor magazine Crazy.
Actually, it's both Skottie Young world and AvX world. Young will write and draw Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX, an epic throwdown between his pint-sized versions of Marvel heroes.
With a Doctor Strange movie scheduled for next year, a new Doctor Strange series is inevitable, so it's a safe bet that it starts here, in the domain officially set aside for the good doctor. This may also be where some of Marvel's diabolical extra-dimensional hoop-de-hoo ends up.
A continental horn with an archipelago leading to Dystopia. As the largest landmass touching the 616 and Ultimate Marvel zones, this feels like it ought to be significant. It also shares a border with another Classified realm. The one major reality that I can't otherwise account for, and that perhaps most deserves proximity to the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, is the New Universe, so let's put that one here.
A little blip in the middle of Marvel 616, and the home of Marvel's ongoing effort to make people excited about the Inhumans. This is where Charles Soule and John Timms will set the next installment of the Inhumans' adventures with Attilan Rising.
20b-20c. Marvel 616/Marvel 1616
Almost at the center of Battleworld is the mainstream Marvel Universe, and right next to it the Ultimate Marvel Universe, nestled together in Manhattan. This zone will presumably be the focus of Secret Wars.
Ultimate End, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, is probably set in the 1616 side. The 616 side should play host to Marvel's continuing titles, including the Last Days books, Black Widow, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, Loki: Agent of Asgard, Magneto, Ms. Marvel, Punisher, and Silver Surfer.
A subterranean world underneath the Marvel Universe. We hoped this would be the home of monster maestro Mole Man and all of Marvel's classic monster characters, from Fin Fang Foom to Goom. In fact it's the home of Marvel Horror rather than Marvel Monsters; "ghouls, dragons, were-beasts, and Dracula." It seems safe to bet that Gerry Duggan and Salvador Espin's Mrs Deadpool and the Howling Commandos will be set here, with Shiklah, Queen of All Monsters teaming up with Werewolf By Night, The Living Mummy and Man-Thing.
This is pretty big for a city, and the name couldn't be much less evocative. Our money was on this being the Marvel Noir universe, but perplexingly it's the home to a new Korvac Saga that pits the Guardians 3000 against a group of future Avengers, written by Dan Abnett, with art by the very talented Otto Schmidt.
Another frustratingly ambiguous name, but we know that this is Civil War world. Worlds building on What If? outcomes of major events turn out to be a major feature of Battleworld. In this case Charles Soule and Leinil Yu will show us what happens in a world torn apart by a superhero war, where the unthinkable has happened; Tony Stark is president.
The Howard the Duck zone. Some fool at Marvel gave Chip Zdarsky a whole country in Battleworld.
A far east located in the deep south of the map, this zone was the most obvious location for the Marvel Mangaverse. But actually it's the setting for the dinosaur vs. dogfight comic Where Monsters Dwell, by Garth Ennis and Russ Braun.
The volcano-rich home of Jack Kirby's Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur. No, seriously; there's a whole Moon Boy zone, and it's huge. Oddly, Devil Dinosaur himself is over in the Planet Hulk zone, way off to the north, but hey, maybe there are two Devil Dinosaurs on Battleworld? Maybe there are dozens?
HYDRA is primed for a renewed presence in the comics as it plays a major role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so if Marvel has long-term plans for this villain group, this zone may sow those seeds.
The book set in this domain is Hail HYDRA, by Rick Remender and Roland Boschi, and it's yet another world where the villains won. Ian Rogers, the generic new Nomad, will be the one honest man fighting for freedom in a HYDRA-controlled world.
A geographical zone that is also a specific time, like Kentucky.
The Spider-Man 2099 ongoing will be cancelled to make way for Secret Wars 2099, starring a team of future Avengers, from the creative team of Peter David and Will Sliney.
We wondered if the decision to reduce the Kree homeworld to a little scrap of land on the edge of the Hydra Empire was an omen tied to the importance of the Kree in the Marvel movies. It later emerged that this zone is home to Captain Marvel and her new interstellar defense team, the Carol Corps. Writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kelly Thompson are joined by artist David Lopez in a story that brings back Captain Marvel's all-female Banshee Squadron.
A return to Marvel's House of M reality, where Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are maybe still the kids of Magneto? So let's keep this reality and jettison 616. Dennis Hopeless and Kris Anka are your creative team, and we're promised plenty of Kris Anka Namor, so let's definitely keep this reality.
The Days (now Years) of Future Past zone. Marguerite Bennett and Mike Norton explore a Sentinel-dominated future in which Kate Pryde never traveled back to the past to prevent this timeline from coming to pass.
This huge expanse is the bleak Old Man Logan future created by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, in which the villains have defeated the heroes, though being a Mark Millar world it's not always clear which is which.
Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino take over from Millar and McNiven in exploring this miserable world.
We knew this would be a mutant-dominated reality. We weren't expecting a world built on the foundation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's E is for Extinction storyline. The creative team of Chris Burnham and Ramon Villalobos will write an X-Men book featuring Beak, Angel, Kid Omega, Glob Herman, and the Stepford Cuckoos.
The X-Men '92 zone, aka a team that looks suspiciously like the X-Men Animated Series. Hooray for '90s scumbag Gambit!
Located right in a strip of X-Men-related zones that stretches from House of M to the Domain of Apocalypse. Because of the X-Men connection, we thought it could be an Arcade-style Murderworld. In fact it's a world overrun by Marvel's most merciless killers, with MODOK at the top of the pile. MODOK Assassin comes from Chris Yost and Amilcar Pinna, with covers by David Lafuente.
This was another zone that we thought might have an Arcade connection, or a connection to Marvel arcade game, or a connection to Plantman (in a classical sense, Arcadia is a pastoral utopia). We were scrambling; it's none of those things.
I didn't think Mister Sinister merited his own zone, so I my high-falutin' theory was that because a bar sinister is a baton descending from right to left in heraldry, representing bastardry, this would be a... shadow line. Get it?
It's not. It's a Mister Sinister world. Specifically, it's a world inspired by the "Mutant Massacre" storyline that Sinister triggered. No creative team details have been revealed.
Another vast realm, stretching under the Domain of Apocalypse. Inevitably, it's the Inferno-version of Limbo. Dennis Hopeless will write and Javier Garron will draw an Inferno mini series set in a world where the heroes lost the fight against the demon horde, and Colossus must repeatedly try to save his sister Illyana.
The preview video established that the Deadlands and neighboring Perfection are the settings for Marvel Zombies and Age of Ultron; two insidious life-destroying plagues that will go head-to-head in their own title.
The Deadlands will play host to its own title, Marvel Zombies, starring Elsa Bloodstone, from the team of Si Spurrier and Kev Walker.
... so we'll put the Age Of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies title over here in Perfection. The series comes from the creative team of James Robinson and Steve Pugh.
'New Xandar' on the first map Marvel released; 'New Xander' on the interactive map. Xandar is the home of the Nova Corps, and this zone is home to a new Infinity Gauntlet story starring the Nova Corps and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel's Infinity Gems were destroyed early on in Hickman's incursion storyline; this story will try to bring them back, courtesy of Gerry Duggan and Dustin Weaver.
('New Xander' may not be a typo; the current Nova is Sam Alexander, and Nova is Latin for new, hence; New Xander. But maybe I'm overthinking it.)
Given how quickly Marvel zombies can spread, we correctly guessed that the wall exists solely to contain both them and the Ultrons — and the poor sad Nova Corps, who are a bit screwed. Kieron Gillen and Filipe Andrade will tell the tale of a Marvel Night's Watch that includes versions of Abigail Brand, Illyana, Leah, Kate Bishop, and the America Chavez. Sadly it does not include The Wall, the Spider-Man antagonist from his Electric Company days, whose image we have finally had to remove from this article.
Beyond the Wall: Red Skull
Red Skull is meant to be dead, even in Battleworld, but in Joshua Williamson and Luca Pizzari's three-issue series a team is convened to go beyond the Wall and make absolutely sure he's dead. Magneto, Winter Soldier, Lady Deathstrike, Electro, Moonstone and, surprise, Jack O’Lantern are your hand-picked Nazi hunters.
No Fixed Address: Star-Lord And Kitty Pryde
We know this series by Sam Humphries and Alti Firmansyah involves the Age of Apocalypse version of Kitty Pryde; we don't know which version of Star-Lord, or where the couple's adventures will take them. You can find more details on the series here.
No Fixed Address: The Runaways
Aptly, we don't know where Noelle Stevenson and Sanford Greene's new Runaways series is set exactly, though it starts in Battleworld's "capital city" and sees teen heroes Molly Hayes, Jubilee, Bucky Barnes, Cloak & Dagger, Amadeus Cho, and Skaar on the run from a supervillain academy.
This series by Jason Aaron brings together Thors from multiple realities as a Battleworld police force, so expect it to span several domains. Art comes courtesy of Chris Sprouse, an artist whose very destiny was to draw a book full of Thors.
No Fixed Address: X-Tinction Agenda
A story set in a version of Genosha where Havok and Wolfsbane stayed behind to rebuilt the nation, only for it to fall victim to a deadly virus. Written by Marc Guggenheim, with art by Carmine Di Giandomenico. It's not clear where this belongs on the map; there's no island zone unaccounted for.
No Fixed Address: Ghost Racers
Felipe Smith and Juan Gedeon tell the story of multiple hellbound Ghost Riders competing on an infernal racetrack. This story must have a fixed location, we just don't know where it is.
Joining 1603 and 2099 in the times-but-also-places of the Battlezone map is 1872, a Western series from Cullen Bunn and Evan Shaner, featuring Old West versions of Marvel heroes including Captain America, Iron Man, and the Kingpin in the frontier town of Timely.
Knowhere: Guardians of Knowhere
Knowhere, the floating Celestial head, is not on the Battleworld map, but it's Battleworld's only moon, and the setting for Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato's new Guardians of the Galaxy series.
Off the Map: Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars
This series by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli isn't set on Battleworld at all, but back during the original Secret Wars, revealing what Deadpool was doing during that event. (Which begs the question; what is he doing during this event?)