Secret Wars continues on and I continue to blow deadlines. After the break I’ll look at three recent tie ins: Ultimate End #1, Spider-Verse #1 and Secret Wars: Battleworld #1. I also chat with one of my fellow Gabbing Geeks about one of these books and surprisingly it’s not Tom Kelly!
Also, if you are like me and haven’t read all of Johnathon Hickman’s Avengers run leading up to Secret Wars, be sure to take Tom’s Road To Secret Wars course at gabbinggeekuniversity.com. The reading materials are online here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six and Part Seven.
Ultimate End #1
For a book called Ultimate End you would think it deals with the end of the Ultimate Universe. But no, that went out with more of a whimper then a bang in Secret Wars #1. (I still think they should have let Galactus eat the Ultimate Earth in Cataclysm.) Well then, it must deal with the time leading up to the end in Secret Wars #1. Wrong again.
The book actually does start with a splash page showing the final battle, pre-incursion, between the heroes of the 616 and the 1610. (Hey, isn’t Ultimate Captain America dead? Not surprised he’s here all the same…) But outside of that, they book occurs on the Manhatten of Battleworld.
And what a strange Manhattan it is. Unlike the impression we are given by the Battleworld Map, the 616 and 1610 Manhattan’s are not so much neighbors as they are an amalgam of both cities. For example, there are two Baxter Buildings.
Our story starts with the 616 Spider-Man going up against the Serpent Squad. It then becomes an issue of Battleworld Team-Up starring Spider-Man and the New Ultimates.
When the day is saved, Spider-Man tries to talk to the 1610 Jessica Drew. He is pretty freaked out and unbelieving that she is a clone of “him”. (Well, of the Ultimate Peter Parker.) I’m not sure why he is so freaked out though, there are a bajillion Spider-Clones around since the 90’s brought us the Clone Saga. What also springs from this conversation, and becomes a running gag throughout is that pretty much everyone knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker because of the death and identity reveal of Peter’s counterpart in the 1610.
Other than that, the issue is mostly Bendis-talky and slightly confusing. The bulk of it occurs within a meeting between the Avengers and the Ultimates (and a few X-Men sprinkled in), including two Tony Stark’s. They are trying to determine what has happened that has merged their two world’s together. The characters clearly know something has happened, but seem to have no memories of the incursion. And with Cyclops there and Iron Man in his non-Superior armor, have these characters been reset from an earlier time period?
To make matters more confusion, there is a flashback to a scene from All-New X-Men that involves the door between the 616 and 1610 dimensions that has been around since the Spider-Men days. As the door overloads and collapses, on the 1610 side, 616 Tony Stark appears, in the room in his pajamas. To all parties involved, this seemed to be the event that brought them together.
As the meeting ends and the groups go there separate ways no further ahead, we are shown that this is clearly Battleworld as a squadron of Thors arrive.
One of the fundamental aspects of Secret Wars is that every world in the Marvel multiverse has been destroyed and all that remains is Battleworld. Yet, new regular Marvel comics come out each week. Some deal with the end of the world with the Last Days branding tie-in. Some seem to ignore the whole event completely. There are currently no Ultimate books to worry about as they (all one of them: Miles Morales Spider-Man) concluded just prior to Secret Wars.
One of the stranger reflections of all this is Spider-Gwen. She is one of the lead characters in this title, but is also still putting out her own solo book…which does not take place in either the 616 or the 1610. So we are left to assume it is taking place on one of the last surviving worlds before the multiverse is widdled down to two, and in-between the events of Spider-Verse and Secret Wars.
I touched on this a bit when I wrote a series of columns similar to these about Spider-Verse, but the timing of these two events really drained Spider-Verse of a lot of its relevance. The entire concept of Spider-Verse was the hunting of every Spider-Man ever by Morlun and his family the Inheritors across the multiverse. Remember all those Spider-People that were saved from the Inheritors over the course of that event? Well, it really didn’t matter much as they all got wiped out by incursions shortly afterwards anyway. Spider-Verse still stands on its own, but it is unfortunate timing in the grand scheme of things.
But let’s get to the issue at hand, that features Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham…and Spider-Noir and other Spider-Folk who were not part of the 616 or 1610, yet here they are. But we won’t think too much about that. If I do, I’ll end up down the road I did writing about Convergence, where nothing made sense.
The story here I assume takes place in the domain of Arachnia. It is never stated, but the Battleworld map tells me so. It appears to be another version of the 616 New York City, but one in which Spider-Man has disappeared years ago and Norman Osborn is the Mayor. So when spider-folks like Spider-Gwen, Spider-UK and Spider-Ham start appearing and thwarting crime, it gets the attention of the former Green Goblin.
One interesting aspect of this story that I haven’t come across elsewhere yet, is that the displaced Spider-Heroes know something is up. They can’t quite put their finger on it, but they don’t belong there. This is most evident to Gwen Stacy since this appears to be 616 continuity and she visits her own grave that sits next to the grave of her father. (Who is still alive in Spider-Gwen proper continuity.)
It’s not clear if they remember the events of Spider-Verse, but when the Spider-People finally meet face to face they find each other familiar, but don’t know each other.
Ever the inquisitive type, Gwen Googles herself and learns all about her death on the Washington Bridge during Spider-Man’s battle with the Green Goblin. She takes a job at Ozcorp (Note a typo, it is spelled with the “Oz”, a clue perhaps?) to try to dig up info on what might be going on. Why she is there, etc. When she finally manages to sneak into Ozcorp’s Special Projects ward she finds a comatose Spider-Ham, and a Norman Osborn that has been expecting her.
Secret Wars: Battleworld #1
If the 616 Marvel Universe is destroyed at the beginning of Secret Wars in 2015, how can the 616 Marvel Universe of the year 2099 exist? Nevermind. Let’s just go with it.
The first story in Battleworld finds Frank Castle wandering into the domain of 2099. We’re never told exactly where the Punisher is from, but we know he is not supposed to be here. And apparently he’s been crossing many of the domain borders, which we know is in direct violation of the rules of Doom.
To track Castle down, for some reason Doom doesn’t send the Thors, but The Infernal Four from the Limbo domain. (The land where the 1989 Mutant crossover Inferno still rages on.) They are demonic takes on the popular “New” Fantastic Four, namely: Hulk, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and Spider-Man.
An epic battle ensues, as Frank has a secret weapon. He’s carting around Dr. Strange’s soul with him since the two battled vampires and Strange was bitten. Using Strange’s magic he dispatches the four in some rather inventive ways. But Wolverine’s healing factor is too much for Castle to overcome, and Frank has to resort to detonating the Weapon of Watoomb that takes them all out.
But once again, Wolverine’s healing factor saves his hide and as he heads back to Limbo, he’s got a new “friend” in tow. The soul of Dr. Strange.
Oh yeah, and there is also a horrible MODOK story that follows that did absolutely nothing for me.
And now ladies and gentlemen, enter the ninja! Er, I mean Ryan. (And our chat about Battleworld #1 and Secret Wars in general.)
jimmy: Story one, was it clear to you where the Infernal Four were from, why they were hunting Castle and where they finally tracked him down to?
Do you find it odd that Strange has possessed Castle and eventually Wolverine, yet Strange is also the Sheriff? People don’t seem taken aback that there are multiple versions of the same people floating around.
Story two, on a scale of one to ten mental organisms, how many $&@!’s did you give about story two?
ryan: None of the first story was clear but this is Secret Wars and I didn’t read the four hundred and twenty seven comics in the Pre-Lead-Up-To-The-Introduction of Secret Wars so I expected as much. I didn’t know why those four were hunting Punisher but once you know there are a bunch of Thor then everything goes out the window. I don’t know where they tracked him to but I liked the fight between them. Doctor Strange is a bad ass. I knew this from Lego Marvel where he has all the best powers but nice to see it confirmed in comic form.
A bit odd that there were multiple Stranges but no big deal. Sheriff Strange is from Marvel 1602 right?
I thought the MODOK story was pretty funny. That’s the second story right?
jimmy: That was the second story. It didn’t do much for me.
And Strange in 1602 was a doctor. I’ve assumed so far that the Sheriff was the 616 Strange that was fighting with Doom against the Beyonders.
Also, if Strange can instantly turn Hulk to Banner with one word…how was this never used before in all the times Hulk got out of hand?
ryan: I’m guessing it ruined some cosmic balance. Similar to Dust spell.
Which begs the question–would Dust work against Hulk?
jimmy: Good point, why have to change him to Banner first?
ryan: I’m thinking for the extra style points.
jimmy: Oh yeah. Mega bonus style points.
ryan: So if I wanted to know why Battleworld existed how many comics would I have to read?
Because if Doom really made it, it seems inefficient. Then again if they’re trying to keep the 616 escape ship secret to prevent people doubting Doom then he can’t be all powerful.
But if he’s powerful enough to scare dozens of Thor, why is he scared of a ship?
jimmy: Nothing has really been explained about Battleworld yet outside of Marvel’s promotional department. I think he is afraid of the ship(s) because they introduce doubts to the populace about how all powerful and Godlike he is. Probably also because from what I’ve seen, no one remembers the incursions. Those ships may remind people, trigger memories. spider-Verse is the only book I’ve read so far where anyone feels like something isn’t right with the world and they can almost put their finger on it.
ryan: Ah. Cool. So the secret is why the hell this matters.
jimmy: Haha, I guess you’re right.
jimmy: Maybe Doom isn’t in control. Maybe he didn’t even create Battleworld. It’s just another part of the Beyonders plans.
Or maybe he is God and creator of Battleworld but his hold on things is tedious at best. Keep in mind, when he stole the power of one baby Beyonder in Secret Wars,that didn’t work out so great for him. How can he handle the power of all the Beyonders?