By: Derek Ng
“Everything dies” is the tagline for Marvel’s newest comic event, Secret Wars. Now, many have speculated that Secret Wars is the Flashpoint of the Marvel Universe; that Secret Wars will lead to a New 52-style reboot that will reset the Marvel Universe. While several interviews have clearly stated it’s not, people were and still are skeptical. How can you not be when the tagline is “Everything dies”? After reading issue #1, I don’t think this is a reboot…but I do believe that this is exactly what Marvel needs right now. Everything needs to die.
The New 52 did amazing things (in terms of business) for DC Comics, giving new readers a place to easily start reading comics. That’s the thing about the comic industry…the goal is to always attract new readers. With the incredible success of comic book films and TV shows, businesses want that success to lead to increased comic book sales. This can be difficult, given the continuity baggage that comes with years of comic book mythology. For the most part, you can’t just spend $5 and know what’s happening. Picking up the newest issue of Amazing Spider-Man would leave me completely lost. For me, Ultimate Spider-Man #1 was the perfect jumping point for me to start reading comics. It introduced a character I knew with a basic story that I didn’t need background info on. I didn’t need to know Peter was cloned at one point, that Aunt May kind-of died, or that Norman Osborn returned from the dead X number of times. Civil War was the comic event that really got me reading comics in the 616 Universe. It was an event story that I didn’t need too much background information on, but still changed the Marvel Universe for years to come. Recognizing the importance of attracting new readers, DC changed their universe with the event Flashpoint.
However, in creating the New 52, DC Comics alienated their current fan base because long-time fans were disrespected. It was unclear what events happened in the New 52 universe that happened in the Pre-52. For example, did Superman ever fight Doomsday? Was Tim Drake ever Robin? DC Comics made the mistake of attracting new readers at the cost of losing longstanding ones. For the most part, while I would consider the New 52 reboot a success, as readership has definitely increased for DC, it’s pretty clear that DC recognized that they did make mistakes, and they’ve since attempted to rectify them with the current Convergence stories. Considering all these factors and mistakes, I would argue that Secret Wars is currently what the Marvel Universe needs in order to attract new readers.
Secret Wars opens with the beautiful art of Esad Ribić depicting the final fight between the Ultimate Universe and Earth-616; which is very fitting, since Esad Ribić also drew The Ultimate Comics: Ultimates that revealed Reed Richards as the cruel Maker. Jonathan Hickman, meanwhile, has been scripting an epic since Avengers NOW!, so this event follows the end of his Avengers series (for our review on that issue, click here). Even from this simple explanation of the plot, you may be lost. Who is the Maker? What’s the Ultimate Universe and what’s Earth-616? I know this may sound horrible to my fellow comic fans out there, but this is the exact reason why everything has to die.
The end of Secret Wars #1 has a select few heroes and villains surviving the tragic battle. To name a few, we have (the new) Thor, Reed Richards, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, and Cyclops. You might notice that Black Panther and Captain Marvel both have some films coming out soon. This series will, hopefully, allow readers to learn about these characters (all-new Thor included) while still enjoying the presence of familiars like Spider-Man and Cyclops.
These heroes are still the same characters that have existed with Marvel through 75 years of storytelling. This isn’t a reboot because, as of now, their histories have still happened. What Marvel is currently doing is creating a whole new universe for these heroes to exist in. This is a new universe wherein all the heroes have to re-adjust and new stories can be told. Almost like DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, but again, as of now the Marvel characters are still the same. New readers can now jump into the stories and know what’s happening. Marvel is getting rid of the unnecessary amount of baggage and confusion that comes with reading comics. Goodbye, multi-universe and your convoluted concepts!
At the same time, Marvel will be attracting both new and current readers. Secret Wars is for new readers; the spin-offs are for current/returning readers. Do you want to read about Mary-Jane with Peter again? I sure do! I am also looking forward to the return of Old Man Logan, Civil War, and the end of the Ultimate Universe. The spin-offs are the final send-offs and celebrations to the old Marvel Universe! Returning and current readers can enjoy their favorite stories and characters one last time until every reader is on the same level.
Everything dies because, at the end of the day, Marvel is a business. Marvel needs to attract new readers and what better way than a status-changing event that will have long-lasting implications? From issue #1, Secret Wars is turning out to be the comic I will recommend to any new reader who asks where they should start. Every comic reader has a starting point that got them into comics or returned to comics. Before we scream reboot, let’s enjoy the event and see where the new Marvel will take us. Hopefully, it’ll be a better Marvel than the one we all decided to kill.
Derek is comic book fan like none other. You can follow him on Twitter.
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