The truth behind ‘Secret Wars‘ has emerged!  A true homage to the original series, Marvel’s video gives us a good idea of what’s in store…

Jonathan Hickman designed the core concept. Every one of the many teaser images is its own story slotting somehow into the greater whole.  Spin-offs divide into ‘Last Days,’ ‘Battleworld‘ and ‘Warzone!‘, and results in a Marvel Universe transformed. Secret Wars promises epicness!

But how did we get here?  What build-up is going on?  What threads are hopefully going to be tied together?  According to Axel Alonso, every book in Marvel is heading for this event.  Well, I’ve been asked to chip in and reproduce this, a feature I posted on MahMuseComics…

AGE OF ULTRON

Personally, I take all this back to ‘Age of Ultron,’ published in 2013.  This was an epic time-travelling arc in which history got rewritten a couple of times; it all ended with time shattered apart.

The consequences were enormous.  Galactus somehow crossed over to the Ultimate universe; meanwhile, the barriers between our reality and the Tenth Realm weakened (they were broken this year in ‘Original Sin‘), and Angela, Thor’s sister, emerged!

Angela's arrival
She’s beautiful, she’s powerful, and she doesn’t believe in wearing much clothing!

But what does it mean to say ‘time was broken’?  What were the consequences?  How is this all going to work out?  My instinct is that the Tenth Realm will be somehow important.

Will the ALL-NEW X-MEN be in Secret Wars?

Probably no comic focused more on the idea of time and space breaking down than ‘All-New X-Men.’  Brian Bendis, who only loves time-travel, brought the original X-Men out of the past and into the present day; as we learned during ‘Battle of the Atom,’ something is stopping them going back.  Worse still, Jean’s powers have begun to change dramatically, and in the last issue Iceman was manifesting powers he shouldn’t be using for decades – due to his older self’s inspiration.

The X-Men’s past is in flux, and in a much more dangerous way than I reckon we like to think.

In ‘Battle of the Atom,’ we learned that if one of the original X-Men dies – then they’ll be wiped out of existence, and time will rewrite itself around them.  It’s the same mechanism used in ‘Cable and X-Force.’ It suggests that the laws of time in the Marvel Universe have been changed dramatically post-‘Age of Ultron‘.

Scott blasted by Sentinel
This was the moment when time was almost broken!

And then, in this year’s annuals, Brian Bendis lifted the lid on how time-travel now works in the X-Men’s world – and it was shocking, putting all of reality at risk.

The Brotherhood?

Meanwhile, the future Brotherhood harassed the team. The Brotherhood carelessly write and rewrite time around themselves in unceasing attempts to triumph against the hated X-Men.  It simply can’t be doing the timeline much good.

Future Brotherhood
Trouble with a capital ‘T’.

In another twist, the team recently encountered a powerful new mutant named Carmen who appears to have control over the Multiverse – and has blasted them into the Ultimate universe!  What will Carmen’s role in all this be, as the Multiverse breaks down?  It seems evident to me that Brian Bendis is making sure X-Men fans are aware of some key features of the Ultimate universe prior to the big event…

Carmen
How will this girl play into Secret Wars?

Coming out of this, Brian Bendis has been insistent that ‘Black Vortex‘ is somehow part of the build-up to ‘Secret Wars‘, so it should be watched with care by X-fans!

Which UNCANNY X-MEN appear in Secret Wars?

Two things really stand out in the pages of ‘Uncanny X-Men‘.  The first is Tempus, a time-traveller whose experiences were unveiled in the ‘Uncanny X-Men Annual‘ and ‘All-New X-Men Annual‘, and has the potential to be a major player as time and space break down.

Tempus tomorrow
Wow.

And this scene, incidentally, is ominously similar to one experienced in ‘Captain America: Reborn #5‘.

Reborn vision
Talk about taking the long view!

Maybe I’m reaching, but… is this Battleworld?  The designs clearly base themselves on Martians who are famous for opposing Killraven (and have cropped up in ‘All-New Invaders‘ in the book’s latest arc, helping Marvel bring them back into play).  In fact, one of the realms of Battleworld calls itself ‘New Mars’.

On another note, the current plotline deals with a character called Matthew Malloy, a guy who some reviewers compare in power-level to the Beyonder, the original villain of ‘Secret Wars.’  How will Malloy fit in?

Malloy goes boom
My bet is ‘explosively’!

This story is taking twists and turns that defy description, with Professor Charles Xavier now brought into the present-day by Tempus.  Bendis was the only writer in the ‘AvX‘ bunch who wanted Xavier to stick around, and now that the Professor’s back, things could get interesting…

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in Secret Wars?

No coincidence, Marvel chose now to visit the planet the Venom symbiote comes from.  I mean, it’s not as though that symbiote introduced itself in the first ‘Secret Wars‘ or anything, is it?

First symbiote
A classic scene!

Nowadays, Flash Thompson bears the Venom symbiote, and – with the symbiote cured of its madness – Thompson got a major power-up.  It turns out that the symbiotes embody “the mind and soul of the warrior,” needing to unite with a host in order to become a true guardian of the galaxy.  Bound to those great and good enough, the symbiotes become tremendous forces for good; but when the wrong people wield them, well, we all know what kind of Venom that produces.  It seems the symbiote Spider-Man picked up in the first ‘Secret Wars‘ perhaps already exhibited imbalanced. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the new Venom:

New Venom
A power-up just before major events? Not a coincidence!

What’s more, it surely can’t be a coincidence that the planet of the symbiotes has just been revealed.  Will there be symbiotes on Battleworld?  And who will get their hands on them – the worthy or the unworthy?

On another note, we recently learned that Richard (Nova) Rider was left stranded in a dying universe.  Given the experiences of Hyperion over in ‘Avengers‘, we know that powerful people left stranded in the cracks between realities when universes end ends poorly.  Is it possible we see more Nova?  I hope so; I admit to being a die-hard Richard Rider fan!

SPIDER-VERSE

It can’t be a coincidence.  Dan Slott chose this time to launch his ‘Spider-Verse‘ epic, an arc in which threatens the whole of reality — as the Inheritors travel the Multiverse hunting the Spiders.

A Little Help from my Friends
Bring on the webheads!

But this carries an ominous amount of weight to it.  ‘Amazing Spider-Man #7‘ dropped in a fascinating scene with the Captain Britain Corps, highlighting their growing concern over Incursions (see ‘New Avengers‘, which I’ll talk about in a moment).

Concern over Incursions
Nice to know she’s on the job!

The Lady Roma is concerned about the Spiders dying, though.  She knows that there is a ‘web of destiny’, and the spiders are sensitive to it.  This Web of Destiny is woven by the Master Weaver, a cosmic being who manipulates the strands of reality itself. The Inheritors imprisoned him for some time. This spun events into motion which his future freedom looks assured.  With all reality at risk, the Master Weaver seems to be a major player.

Equally interesting is that apparently one Spider-Man was trained by the Master Weaver in some way, the Spider-Man of Mumbai.  Will this Spider play a key role?

Pavitr Prabhakar
There’s no way Dan Slott inserted this scene at a whim.

 

SPIDER-WOMAN

Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s something really interesting behind this fan-favourite creation.  In one reality, Gwen Stacy didn’t die; instead, she got bitten by the radioactive spider!

Spider-Gwen 2
I’m biased, but I view Spider-Gwen one of Marvel’s best ideas in years!

Struck by her popularity, Marvel have commissioned a new ‘Spider-Gwen’ series for February 2015.  Reportedly, the home base resides in Gwen’s own reality, meaning we’ll get to be a lot more familiar with it; and, given every book is tying into ‘Secret Wars‘, I’m betting that reality will tie into Battleworld as well.  There’s even been throwaway comments suggesting, to me, that this timeline’s Gwen – and likely her father – will come out of ‘Secret Wars‘ part of the new Marvel reality.

THE MAIN AVENGERS TITLES

For Jonathan Hickman, it all kicked off when he took over the new series of ‘New Avengers’.  Hickman changed the focus; he gathered together the Illuminati, adding the Beast to their numbers, and penned a horrific tale.  Something has gone badly wrong with the Multiverse itself; worlds collide in devastating Incursions, and occasionally mysterious beings are seen… Oh, and it’s not even much of a secret any more.

AIM know
And this is just a guy from AIM!

Disturbingly, in ‘New Avengers #8‘ Iron Man found the body of the Living Tribunal, the Multiverse’s guardian, one of the most powerful beings in all realities.  This is undoubtedly linked to the Incursions.

One of Hickman’s Avengers, Hyperion, actually doubles as an Incursion survivor who AIM scientists plucked out of nowhere.

While underneath it all, hidden behind the story of horror as the Illuminati fall ever further from grace and ultimately bring worlds to an end, there’s a hidden thread.  Someone is responsible for what has been happening, and in ‘New Avengers #24’ – based eight months into the future – Doctor Doom has tracked them down.

NA24 Network
Of course, it *has* to be Doom who works things out!

Originally Sinned?

In the aftermath of ‘Original Sin‘, Hickman has moved us months into the future.; ‘Avengers World‘ will tell the story leading up to it.  Beast, Hulk, the Black Panther, and Reed Richards are on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. (and over in the X-books, Bendis has mentioned ‘The Trial of Hank McCoy’ as up-and-coming, perhaps tying in).  They’ve tried everything they can think of to deal with the threat, and paid some terrible prices.

Playing god

Meanwhile, the Avengers themselves send a task-force across the universes to defeat the mind behind the Incursions.  They believe it to be a suicide mission, and we still haven’t seen where the story leads. It’s already shown us Doctor Strange is on the job!

We’ve also recently met the future Captain Britain, who is the last of the Captain Britain Corps.  We know that the Captain Britain Corps brought on board by the Illuminati to pay a terrible price.

Who is responsible for all this, and what do they want?  Why are they marking out territory in the way they are doing?  The answer may lie in the villains who tread the Incursion sites, Mapmakers and the Black Order.  The Mapmakers seem to want nothing more than to catalogue worlds, while the Black Order have offered ominous talk of how the Incursions will end in some sort of ‘convergence’.

NA13 Convergence comes
Not just religious mumbo-jumbo.

When, in the advertisement for ‘Secret Wars’, we saw time and space converging on to a map of a world, I saw some very ominous connections.

Doctor Stranger?

The Black Order, it seems, are conducting universal triage – attempting to destroy the colliding Earths so as to limit the damage.  Most noteworthy, they’ve joined a very particular guy…

All words

They refer to Strange as ‘the Eye’ (in reference to the Eye of Agamotto).  No coincidence, one realm of Battleworld links to the Eye.

And one other key player has just entered the stage; the Ivory Kings, better known as the Beyonders!

The Beyonders
Guess the retcon from New Avengers: Illuminati #3 hasn’t stuck, huh?

Yes, it’s official; both ‘Avengers‘ and ‘New Avengers‘ are counting down to May 2015.  In ‘Avengers #35‘, Hickman’s characters tell us that the very fabric of the universe is beginning to collapse, centred upon Earth.  And this, I reckon, will be the hook for some of Marvel’s cosmic books – the end of all, that will bring an end to the Marvel Universe itself.

We’ve even glimpsed it in ‘Avengers #32‘:

Incursion end

The interesting thing, while in the pages of ‘Mighty Avengers‘ we met a corporate exec type named Jason Quattrell, CEO of a company called Cortex.  He’s insanely powerful, and has a serious attitude.  In ‘Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1‘, we have an ominous hint about his perspective…

From Beyond
And appearance-wise, they even look similar.

Of course, this Beyonder’s backstory warped to no end in the past.

INHUMANS

Finally, I want to focus in on the Inhumans.

Now, given that one of the teaser images is for ‘Attilan Rising’, it’s clear that the Inhumans are going to be a big part of this event (and if their placement is anything to go by in the trailer, they’ll be colliding with the Ultimate universe).

Attilan Rising

In the aftermath of ‘Infinity‘, the Terrigen Mist spread across the world.  Men and women transformed into Inhumans and the race’s numbers increased.  Medusa believed (incorrectly) that her husband Black Bolt was dead.

Black Bolt is not dead; and his plans are emerging.

Black Bolt's plans

You see, I think Black Bolt knows more than the rest of the Illuminati.  Most noteworthy, I think he has a plan in mind, one in which he takes advantage of Battleworld in an attempt to forge a new Attilan.  And I think the release of the Terrigen Mists was the first step in his forming an army.  This is why I think Marvel are widening their Inhumans base, beginning a new ‘Uncanny Inhumans‘ title.

The Path Paved?

In conclusion, nobody’s exaggerating – the whole Marvel Universe heads straight for ‘Secret Wars‘, and it looks like every promise Marvel gives will be fulfilled!

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