Marvel Comics loves to tease.
For weeks and weeks now, the company has been releasing promotional one sheets, and each of them seemed be announcing the return to print… in one form or another… of some of their best crossovers, mini-series, future tales, alternate versions, and classic stories. And all of it was branded for "Summer 2015". It didn't make any sense. What were they up to?
On Thursday (Nov. 6), Marvel released the following video; watch it, and then I'll try try to break it down as much as I can without sending you into geek overload.
First things first, for context, what you need to know is that Marvel's first company-wide crossover of its titles was Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars back in 1984. The story, in a nutshell, is that a nearly omnipotent cosmic entity named The Beyonder had observed Earth's super-humans and decided that it would be really cool to make them fight each other on a distant planet he called "Battleword", a planet he created for only this purpose. Y'know, for his amusement. Heroes and villains fought, as they do, and during this series, some cool stuff certainly happens (including Peter Parker's first donning of the black symbiotic suit we would later know as Venom), but I'll let you delve into that on your own time. As far as what's going on these days...
Courtesy of Marvel
Marvel has been working towards something pretty dang big for a couple of years now and it involves something called an "Incursion Event". In the Avengers monthly comic, writer John Hickman has been paving the way for the end of the Marvel universes. All of them. You see, as The Avengers (and other heroes) have learned, the fabric of time and space has been tinkered with too much and now alternate realities are collapsing on each other ...and usually (sometimes?) only one survives. It's all very sci-fi as you can tell. Recent story lines have shown "successful" efforts to stop impending Incursions, but after seeing that video, it seems that time has finally run out....
Courtesy of Marvel
Okay, so these images are each of some the great Marvel crossover, big event, or alternate timeline stories. Planet Hulk, Days Of Future Past, Future Imperfect, Age Of Ultron, and on and on. What's interesting is that it isn't just limited to "alternate futures" like Old Man Logan, and "alternate realities" like Age Of Apocalypse, but also regular continuity events like Civil War or that time Peter Parker Made A Deal With The Devil To Forget He Was Ever Married To Maryjane (long story, look it up).
Courtesy of Marvel
So this is where the speculation starts to set in. Why are these "greatest hits" each getting their area on this Battleworld map? Is this assembly of "story-towns" a natural cosmic occurrence, a byproduct of the "Incursion" or is someone at fault, is someone in control... is The Beyonder back? I'm guessing yes. I think perhaps he (or some other villain/entity) stopped or altered the Incursion and caused/created this mosaic world of Marvel histories.
In the original Secret Wars, the Battleworld was essentially a random planet, rife with alien weapons and tech planted there to encourage the battles; how will this world be different? Why would all these heroes and villains fight this time around? And what happens at the end of this? Will the Marvel Universe snap back? Will there be a giant reboot? Will this Armageddon of self-referential nostalgia live up to its potential?
You'll have to wait until this summer to find out, so head to your local comic shop and get a running start as things are just warming up and right now, you can speculate in the comments.