This May, while Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron is tearing you apart from the inside, Marvel Comics will also be shaking things up. Yesterday the comic publisher announced Secret Wars, a New 52-esque event (but not a reboot!) that will destroy the Marvel Universe and then build it back up again.
Marvel writer Jonathan Hickman has been building to Secret Wars for the past three years, through his Avengers and New Avengers runs: Those series have been built around “incursions,” which have slowly been wiping out alternate universes. Now, the final incursion will destroy both the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, replacing them with Battleworld, a stitched-together amalgamation of various series.
The fallout of Battleworld will be a new Marvel Universe that pulls from the comic publisher’s 75-year-history. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained why they’re not calling it a reboot:
This is putting an endcap to decades of stories and starting a new era. When you see the scope of the event, [you will] see what we’re willing to do. This is a place where we’re going to be bringing new pieces onto the board and taking old pieces off. You guys will be yelling and screaming, loving and hating in equal measure.
He also hinted that Battleworld is where anything can happen, including the return of old characters:
If we wanted to resurrect Gwen Stacy, this would be the place to do it.
But what about Spider-Gwen? Some of Marvel’s plans are still unclear, like how they’ll handle the original version of Gwen, lost so tragically, versus the alternate-universe girl who got bit by a spider instead of Peter Parker.
And as for this other shuffling of the metaphorical chessboard, Marvel had better not change what it’s been doing with Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Thor, Captain America, and Loki—especially the recent heroes and villains swap in Loki: Agent of Asgard. Those storylines and character changes have only just begun—we’ve got to see Marvel’s endgame.
Here’s the Secret Wars teaser Marvel released about two months ago; they’ve also just launched just launched the Secret Wars site, where you can explore the Battleworld map.
Comic Book Resources claims that more announcements are coming up over the next two weeks, so stay sharp. Marvel will release Secret Wars #0 on Free Comic Book Day (May 2), with the official kickoff coming a few days later on May 6, when Hickman and Esad Ribic’s Secret Wars #1 is released.