Next month, Marvel is introducing a whole new line up of comics—and a whole new universe to go with them. Don’t know your Earth-616 from your Earth-65? What the hell is with this Secret Wars thing? Will your favorite hero still have a comic? Will they even be the same person? Here’s everything you need to know going in.
So I wanted to read the latest Ms. Marvel and everything is exploding. Like, literally, the whole Earth. What’s going on!?
First off: Ms. Marvel is so good, right? But anyway, that’s Secret Wars. You might have noticed over the past few months that your regular Marvel comic series have been replaced by new miniseries under the Secret Wars banner.
Secret Wars! The name comes from one of Marvel’s most famous comic book events—the original, which saw the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe brought together to duke it out on a plane of existence called the Battleworld by an extremely powerful being known as the Beyonder, came out in 1984.
This new one doesn’t really have anything to do with that one, so don’t worry about reading it. Basically the name and the “Battleworld” concept, are all that’s familiar. The scenario and setup of the new Secret Wars is entirely different.
So is this why I can’t read Ms. Marvel right now? Because of Secret Wars?
Basically. Essentially, what happened is that... well, the universe exploded. Not just the main Marvel universes (usually designated Earth-616), but pretty much all of Marvel’s alternate realities, including the most prominent “Ultimate Marvel” universe, were destroyed in the process.
All that’s left is shards of different existences, pulled together into a hodgepodge reality by Doctor Doom called the Battleworld. Outside of the universe, what that means is the current crop of comics Marvel are putting out—yes, including Ms. Marvel—have been ended, and replaced by a bunch of new comic series set during the events of Secret Wars.
But what happens when all this is over? Secret Wars has to end at some point, right?
Yup! Enter the “All-New, All Different” Marvel Universe, being led by the release of Invincible Iron Man.
Is it really so new and different?
Well, kinda sorta. For the first time in Marvel’s history, this is a complete wiping of the slate in terms of their actual universes. The old comics still happened, and recent events in them will still be reflected in this new universe, but there are some pretty big shakeups happening, and basically every returning character is being thrust into new situations and scenarios, and in some cases, new superhero teams.
Hit me with some of the biggest changes.
There’s so many! Iron Man has got a new set of armor (okay that one’s not really a big change), and maybe even a love life with Peter Parker’s former flame Mary Jane Watson. The Avengers are getting a whole new main team, composed of Ms. Marvel, Nova, Ultimate Spider-Man, Thor (who is still Jane Foster), Captain America (who is still Sam Wilson), Iron Man and The Vision. Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales will be headlining the new main Spider-Man series, while Peter Parker swings around in Amazing Spider-Man. The Inhumans will also have a major role in the universe in comparison to their usually niche appearances in recent Marvel history, thanks to their increasingly prevalent role in the world of the Marvel movies.
There’s also going to be a lot of scenarios where new heroes will take the place of major ones. X-23 will take on Wolverine’s mantle now that Logan is dead, but will be mentored by a version of Older Logan currently appearing in Secret Wars. Marvel braniac Amadeus Cho will become a new Hulk. Kate Bishop will be the new main Hawkeye, and seemingly have an antagonistic relationship with Clint Barton. Kitty Pryde will become the new Star-Lord, while Peter Quill is jetting off on his own adventures.
Marvel is also going to be putting a spotlight on some minor characters for the first time in a while, giving them new series—Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat, will star in her own ongoing comedic series. Native American hero Red Wolf will have his own comic for the first time since the 1970s! There’s a lot more, but the overall thrust is to shake up the traditional Marvel universe and try out a more diverse range of comics.
You mentioned Ultimate Spider-Man, but I thought the Ultimate universe exploded. Is there still going to be alternate realities in this new reboot?
Yes, but Miles is a special case—he didn’t just survive the destruction of the Ultimate universe, but has been fully transplanted into the “main” Marvel universe now, letting him fight alongside the Avengers and the main incarnation of Peter Parker.
And yes, we know that there will be some alternative universes left when Marvel reboots thanks to another Spider-Hero: Spider-Gwen’s new ongoing series will still be set in her alt-universe of Earth-65. So while there’s probably nowhere near as many alternative universes now (it was getting a bit confusing), there’s still going to be some for writers to tell alt-stories with.
I’ve been reading a lot about all this arguing about the X-Men and Fantastic Four getting cut out of the comics because Marvel don’t own their movie rights. Are they still part of the universe? What’s their deal here?
Well, the good news is that contrary to rumors, the X-Men and Fantastic Four will still play big roles in the new comics... well, the X-Men will at least.
The X-Men have several new comics—three in total—as part of the reboot, but they’re going to be sharing a lot of space with the Inhumans, who are now in the spotlight as they slowly get introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe through Agents of SHIELD. In fact, the Inhumans and Mutants will now be at odds with each other. An unexplained event will set the two similarly disenfranchised groups against each other, to the point that some mutants will be joining the Inhumans in their new series, Uncanny Inhumans.
The Fantastic Four however, are in a much rougher spot in this new universe. The team seemingly no longer exists: The Thing is joining the Guardians of the Galaxy, while The Human Torch will be a part of Uncanny Inhumans. Sue and Reed Richards are nowhere to be found yet in any series, and if that wasn’t enough kicking them while they’re down, their series, which was cancelled earlier this year, will not be returning. There’s even more kicking though: Peter Parker is going to buy out the Baxter Building and move into their former home. Sorry, Fantastic Four fans!
This is a lot to take in. Do I have to have read all of Secret Wars to understand what’s going on?
No, not really. The “All-New, All-Different” universe is meant to be designed as an ideal stepping on point for Marvel fans who aren’t really reading the comics, but instead consuming the cartoons/movies/TV shows and so-on. You already know what you needed to know about Secret Wars—the universes exploded, got smooshed together, and out of their remains is a whole new Marvel Universe. You won’t even get to see that happen, either, as the new comics that are coming are set 8 months after the formation of this new universe.
Some Secret Wars characters will bleed over into the new universe, like the aforementioned version of Logan from Secret Wars: Old Man Logan, or Red Wolf, from Secret Wars: 1872, and even some series will continue, like the all-female Avengers team A-Force, but on the whole “All-New, All Different” doesn’t require you to read up on a bunch of comics to dive in first.
So what new comics are actually coming out?
A lot are coming out. As a complete reboot of Marvel’s entire line, the current output is being replaced by a whole new batch of comics: In fact, 60 of them. Here’s an extensive list of 45 of the new comics planned for release over the next two months, complete with small synopses to set them up—there’s so many new series they’re being released in two waves, one in October, one in November. There’s another 15 on top of that that Marvel have been announcing in drips to tease their new launch.
Where do I start reading? Is Ms. Marvel still going to be the same Ms. Marvel I read before Secret Wars started?
Honestly, if you’ve already been reading Marvel’s comics, the best bet is to find a series you were already reading, and just carry on with the new first issue. It’s the same characters, the same things still happened to them before Secret Wars, just in new situations. Think of it as a new arc in an ongoing storyline, rather than a whole new reboot.
If you’re not a regular comics reader, then my advice is the same as it would always be: find a character you know already, from the movies or the cartoons or wherever you first encountered them, find out what book they’re appearing in, and start there. And don’t be afraid to experiment! The whole point of “All-New, All Different” is that there’s a lot of new changes and stories starting—so feel free to pick up new books you think sound cool, alongside the characters you’re already familiar with.
Like Ms. Marvel?
Like Ms. Marvel.
It’s so good.
I know, right!?