BIN SIFTIN’ with Rene LeClair: SECRET WARS #1 – MARVEL COMICS

Secret Wars #1 – Marvel Comics

Writer/ Jonathan Hickman   Artist/ Esad Ribic

It’s nearing the end of “Crossover Event Time of the Year” at Marvel Comics. This year we are treated to Secret Wars. The story is brought to us by the great Jonathan Hickman, one of several Marvel “Architects” of recent years. Secret Wars can simply be described as “The multiverse is dying. Only two universes remain. Today, Earths collide.”

In this case they mean Earth-616 (the current Marvel Universe as we know it) and Earth-1610. The Ultimate Universe, where Earth-1610 is located, for those Secret Wars #1not in the know, was an imprint of Marvel Comics that started in 2000 and launched with Ultimate Spider-Man. It was a re-imagined and updated setting for their major heroes and a good place to try new things, but with a clean slate in regards to their origins and histories. It was good while it lasted.

Secret Wars opens with Dr. Doom, Dr. Strange and Molecule Man coming face to face with the entities called the Beyonders. They exist in a dimension beyond our scope of existence and I presume our “heroes” are looking for help with the impending multiverse disaster that is looming ever closer.

We don’t really get to find out right away what has caused this universal calamity, but we know everything is merging into one and only one Earth will be left. Now, since the Ultimate imprint is officially done with (and it is) and if, after Secret Wars, there’s only one Earth, it means Earth-616 will win this one, right? Well, yes and no.

Earth-1610’s heroes, under the guidance of Reed Richards/The Maker, are faced with extinction and attempt to be the dominant surviving earth by launching a Secret Wars #1bpreemptive attack on Earth-616. As the Avengers and friends unite against their parallel foes, everyone’s struggle is in vain as everything fades to white. All has been undone. No one wins?

Whenever Marvel Comics do their yearly event, it generally affects the rest of the greater Marvel Universe in one way or another. Lately, it usually means a main mini-series
plus a crossover of this storyline into various current titles being affected by said major event. We’ve seen this often with past events such as Inferno, Midnight Sons, Civil War, Infinity and House of M to name a few. I, for one, love these events story wise, but more often than not, it can seem like a cash grab to both the casual and hardcore readers as all of a sudden, you may have to buy into other titles you don’t normally get in order to get the “full story”. Mostly and generally a person can stick to the main series of the event in question, but it’s easy to want to give in and just get the whole thing. This will affect your pocket book.

In this case, Marvel is taking this opportunity to not only wrap up their Ultimate Universe, but to also kick start an “All-New, All Different” Marvel Universe, much like what DC Comics did with their Flashpoint series back in Secret Wars #1c2011 which preceded the launch of their New 52 line. Secret Wars brings the dissolution of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Fans are looking at the cancellation of most titles as Marvel’s line of comics have been replaced with new titles reflective of the clashing of realities within time and space as told in Secret Wars #1.

All these new titles take place on Battleworld, the mess of a planet Earth that is left after the clashing of Earths 616 and 1610. Battleworld combines past Marvel events and mashes them together in patchwork zones the size of countries. Travelling from one zone to the next, a person could witness aspects of House of M, Spider-Verse, Marvel Zombies and Marvel 2099. Oddball titles,
such as Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos, 1602: Witch Hunter Angela and Modok Assassin have hit the rack, but Planet Hulk, Infinity Gauntlet, Old Man Logan and a bunch of past Marvel Eras have been revisited over the course of the last few months. All the titles launched with a #1 and will come to an end when the new Marvel U goes live this fall.

This type of early groundwork in storytelling and world building by the “Architects” over at Marvel has allowed them the option to pick and choose aspects from all past events’ and apply them as they see fit to this new re-invented Marvel Universe. As an example and from speculation, in the recent Secret Wars #1dpast, we know Wolverine to be dead, but now with Battleworld, Old Man Logan is roaming around. Will he be sticking around in the “All-New, All Different” Marvel Universe? We’ve also seen promo images showing an X-23/Laura Kinney, aka: female wolverine clone dressed up in Wolverine’s old yellow and blue colours. Will she be the “new” Wolverine as Old Man Logan remains, well, an old man? Who knows. The upcoming months are going to be interesting, to say the least, with respect to the shape the Marvel U will take. It’s a good time to jump on to some new titles, as all will launch with a #1.

It’s clear that with the real world clash between Marvel and Fox over cinematic properties that “Mutants”, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four in the Marvel comics are seeing an extinction of sorts. Fox owns the right to those in the movie world and Marvel is doing all they can to re-acquire those rights.
Unfortunately for the comic world this means no more mutant characters are being created. Everything X-Men is being put on the back burner. Fantastic Four no longer have an active title. These will no longer be fuel for Fox to propel their failing Fantastic Four and floundering X-Men franchises. All this, we are to assume, in hopes that Fox sell them back to Marvel or better yet, let their rights run out and revert back to Marvel naturally.

Secret Wars #1g (1)It’s all boardroom shenanigans in any event, but with the rise of “Inhumans” in the Marvel U (Inhumans being a term that represents beings who have gone through the transformative process of Terrigen Mist developed long ago by the Kree alien race),  shows us that superpowered folk are still going to be the bread and butter of Marvel comics.

Secret Wars #1 was a great read. At the end of the book, it says “The Marvel Universe: 1961-2015. The Ultimate Universe: 2000-2015”, but do not fear, Jonathan Hickman is a pro-world builder. The proof is found in his East of West, Pax Romana and Transhuman comics for Image Comics. With Marvel Comics he’s done some amazing work with Fantastic Four, Secret Warriors, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, as well as orchestrating the Infinity event of 2013. Along with his Marvel cohorts, I’m sure they have plenty of awesome stories to deliver in this “All-New, All-Different” Marvel rebirth over the next few months.

As long as the stories remain consistently awesome and feature Marvel characters in stories that we like, we all win.

Secret Wars issues 0-6 (ending at #8) are out now! – RENE

(Rene LeClair is an avid comic book reader and works at Comic Hunter in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, spreading the word to all who love comics as well.  He is also a fantastic musician who currently plays with a great band called FEAR AGENT.  Rene has been at his music for years, including stints with Longtimers, Four Frames, and the amazing Dead City Rebels.  At the Comic Hunter (Moncton/Charlottetown) they easily have the biggest selection in the Maritimes for all your nerdy needs. They specialize in comic books w/ over 250k back issues, an immense library of graphic novels as well as a seemingly endless selection of board/card games. Whether you find yourself that side of Quebec or not, they’ll ship anywhere. Visit their website and contact them here.)