The Marvel Universe as fans have known it for over fifty years is about to change forever. These changes will take place during this spring’s “Secret Wars” event, which is a massive line-wide story centering around the smashing together of the classic Marvel Universe and the parallel Ultimate Universe. From that collision will spring Battleworld, a new setting comprised of chunks of various parallel Earths and specific moments from Marvel’s history. Following the big “Secret Wars” reveal, the architect behind it all — writer Jonathan Hickman — talked to Entertainment Weekly about the story’s origin, the years of build-up that has taken place in his two “Avengers” series and his future with Marvel Comics.
Despite being pitched years ago and its massive ramifications, Hickman revealed that the basic “Secret Wars” story has not changed over time. “The interesting thing is that is hasn’t changed at all since I pitched it,” Hickman told EW. “Where we’re headed was always the endgame. I guess you could say, could I convince editorial and convince everybody at Marvel that it was a good idea and something that they would want to publish. Three years out, it looked like an interesting thing.
“[Convicing Marvel wasn’t easy] because Avengers is not really a happy story. The Avengers books, we kind of billed it as a mystery — what’s behind all of this stuff, what’s causing all of the incursions? Which is a total lie, because it’s not a mystery, it’s a horror story. And we just didn’t tell anybody, so everybody is waiting for this kind of, “Ta da, whodunit” kind of stuff at the end and that’s not what the story is.”
Even though there’s been years of buildup, beginning with Hickman’s “Avengers” #1 in late 2012, the writer says that the main “Secret Wars” series will stand on its own. “It’s the resolution, it’s the final act,” said Hickman. “Think of ‘Secret Wars’ like this: it is absolutely a self-contained story in that you can pick up issue one and read through issue eight, and you don’t have to have read all the ‘Avengers’ stuff that’s been going on for the last couple years. You really don’t. Even though it’s the final act, it’s structured in such a way that everything is there.”
The structure of “Secret Wars” will also intrigue fans, as Hickman revealed. “Even though [Marvel is] teasing Battleworld and all this stuff, people won’t know where we’re going,” said Hickman. “I’ll also say this: the structure of ‘Secret Wars’ is kind of interesting. There’s huge stuff about the beginning of the story that we don’t give away until issue four. It’s not nonlinear, but it’s definitely not as straightforward as these things normally go.”
Of course, Hickman is a writer known for his long-game planning. Just because “Secret Wars” can be read on its own doesn’t mean there will be treats for those familiar with all of his previous Marvel work. “If you read ‘Secret Wars’ and you’ve been reading not just ‘Avengers’ but ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘SHIELD’ and all the other stuff I’ve done, there’s so much stuff in there, payoff-wise, if you’ve been reading those books, that it’s kind of scary. It’s definitely the culmination of everything I’ve done at Marvel.”
As final as that statement sounds, Hickman was quick to praise his longtime employers and did not close the door on working with them again. “I’m positive that I will continue to do stuff for Marvel, I’m just not going to do stuff in the six months that follow ‘Secret Wars,'” said Hickman. “I don’t have a book I’m going to work on, I don’t have a pitch sitting on some editor’s desk. I’m trying not to even think about it… Five years from now, I might really have a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ or ‘Star Wars’ story that I really want to do. I don’t know what I’m gonna do!”