After three weeks of daily reveals, Marvel finally unveiled their master plan for 2015’s “Secret Wars.” The teasers, each of which paid homage to a previous Marvel event or alternate reality, snapped into place in the revelatory video and formed an all-new Battleworld. Unlike the playing field featured in next year’s epic by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, the original Battleworld featured in 1984’s “Secret Wars” was cobbled together from bits and pieces of Earth itself. Now each part of Battleworld belongs to the events of a previous storyline (“Civil War,” “Infinity Gauntlet”) or an alternate reality (“X-Men ’92,” “Ultimate: The End”) pulled from Marvel’s publishing history. “Age of Apocalypse” borders “Armor Wars,” and “Future Imperfect” exists alongside “World War Hulk.”
If you watch the video closely and patiently — and to be honest, repeatedly — you’ll notice that a few of the marked off territories remain unclaimed after all the teasers fall into place. Could these be reserved for more past events and alternate realities? If that’s the case, then these are the worlds that we hope stake a claim on the newly formed Battleworld!
Seriously, it’s shocking that Marvel hasn’t already tapped the setting of their 2099 line of comics for a return in “Secret Wars.” Set in the year 2099, books set in this totally corporate possible future took up a sizable chunk of Marvel’s publishing line from 1992 to 1996. Titles like “Spider-Man 2099” and “X-Men 2099” captured plenty of readers’ imaginations and still conjure up nostalgia vibes today; Marvel even brought the Spider-Man of 2099 back to the present for an all-new ongoing series by original writer Peter David. The comics also became known for their unabashedly ’90s portrayal of the far future: Ghost Rider was a hacker whose brain had been downloaded into a robot, a gun-toting vigilante named Ravage primarily fought polluters and a giant red lizard-mutant named Bloodhawk served as an X-Man. This is one far-out reality we need to see again.
A few years after the 2099 line fell out of favor, Marvel took another swing at a futuristic line with MC2 — literally an abbreviation for Marvel Comics 2. This imprint came to be because of the popularity of one single character’s appearance in one issue of the “What If?” anthology series. After May “Mayday” Parker’s teenage Spider-Girl became an instant hit, Marvel gave her an ongoing series as well as a handful of other titles to round out her newly formed world. Unlike 2099, the MC2 world was more upbeat and tonally similar to Marvel’s ’80s output. In addition to Spider-Girl, a new team of Avengers (“A-Next”) and the teenage son of Juggernaut (“J2”) got series. “Fantastic Five,” which featured a half-metal Thing, and “Wild Thing,” starring the daughter of Wolverine and Elektra, followed. Even after the demise of her universe, Spider-Girl kept on swinging in various ongoing series until 2010. We want this universe to come back, if only to see more of Mayday and have Wild Thing meet X-23.
DC Comics has been known to absorb other comic book companies and their characters into their continuity from time to time (see: Wildstorm, Milestone, Charlton and Red Circle). You might think that Marvel never did this, but you’d be wrong. Marvel purchased Malibu Comics in 1994, which included their entire Ultraverse line of heroes. The rumor at the time was that Marvel purchased the company solely for their then-advanced computer coloring technology. Still, Marvel published a series of crossover limited series that paired Ultraverse characters with Marvel ones — including “The Night Man/Gambit,” “Prime vs. The Incredible Hulk” and “UltraForce/Avengers” to name a few. Marvel even tried to up the importance of the imprint by sticking actual Marvel characters like Black Knight, Juggernaut and Siena Blaze into ongoing Ultraverse titles. They even toyed around with resurrecting the Phoenix — yes, that Phoenix — in the purchased imprint. These characters haven’t been seen in almost twenty years and, as far as we know, Marvel still has the rights to them. “Secret Wars” might be the perfect place to dust them off.
While “Secret Wars” does shout out Marvel’s first ever big event in its title, the roster of events included skews heavily towards more recent stories like “Age of Ultron” and “Avengers Vs. X-Men.” It would be great to see some of the company’s first forays into annual event territory brought back in some way, and “Inferno” seems like a perfect fit. The ’80s X-Books really kicked off the yearly event cycle that’s been in place for the past few decades, and “Inferno” is the one that features a storyline and setting that we’d love to see revisited. The 1988 crossover saw demons from Limbo invading the Earth, particularly Manhattan. The black magic infestation saw inanimate objects become fiendish anthropomorphic adversaries — which is a roundabout way of saying that members of the X-Men fought demonic mailboxes. On top of that, the Goblin Queen, Mr. Sinister, S’ym and N’Astirh would make for excellent bad guys in whatever storyline Hickman has mapped out. But again, really, we just want to see the Hulk duke it out with a possessed garbage truck.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
The heroes of the MCU have appeared in Marvel Comics off-and-on since the first “Iron Man” film opened in 2008, usually in tie-ins and prequels to the blockbuster films. Maybe it’s time for those characters to finally become fully integrated into the wider Marvel Multiverse and take part in the reality-spanning “Secret Wars” event? It is true that a lot of classic Marvel continuity has been changed to match the Marvel Cinematic Universe, like the new Nick Fury and Star-Lord’s entire look, but there are still plenty of differences that could make for interesting clashes. Who wouldn’t want to see the new Captain America and Thor go up against the movie versions? Like the main Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe before it, the showdown between the feature film Avengers and the comic book Avengers is inevitable. “Secret Wars” might be the right time to do it, or maybe an event of that magnitude deserves its own event later on.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on “Secret Wars.”
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