PopFilter’s giant summer event begins here!!!
The biggest pop culture event of the summer has already happened, as earlier this month the Avengers pulled together and somehow beat Ultron, something that I’m sure shocked us all. It was big and dumb and awesome. It promised to change the status quo, but then forgot to. It did, however, hint at how things could be different in the future. It jammed together all the characters it could, whether it made sense or not. It was a blockbuster of a fireworks show, delivering all the explosions you wanted. What it lacked in depth, it set-up solo movies in the future as places where you can get your depth from. At this point, most people know that all these characters are based on ideas that were made up in the three-color funny pages, but did you know that everything else I just described was taken from comic books too?!?
For decades, mainstream comic companies have used the summer as a time to unleash an AoU-like blockbuster on unsuspecting audiences. Each comic’s storyline is stopped dead in its tracks so that it can sort of touch on this other big thing going on somewhere else in the world. They’re always big, they’re always dumb, they never change the status quo as much as they want you to believe. The one thing they have over the movies is that Marvel still gets to use all of their characters when they’re in comic book form. That means in these events you get to see Spider-Man, Wolverine, and the Thing alongside all of the characters from the MCU. Every summer they say that this is the big one, and it’s never the big one. Although this might be the big one.
All summer long, PopFilter is turning their sights on to Marvel’s Secret Wars, their big summer blockbuster that doesn’t just gather everyone in their universe, but (supposedly) ends it. We’re going to throw every new title into a bracket and force them to do battle against each other. That way, you’ll know which new titles you should be reading, and which ones you can skip. The comic fan’s mentality of “I have to read everything to understand anythingâ€ is one that’s filled with disappointment and heartbreak. Don’t be that guy. Let us be those guys. You be the guy who stays updated on everything that’s going on, and just reads the good stuff. Before the bracket starts next week, let’s go over what you need to know about the old Marvel universe, what this may mean for the future, and what Marvel events are like in general.
WHAT’S THE REAL WORLD REASON FOR THIS BIG DUMB SHIT?
For a long time now, both Marvel and DC have functioned in a Multiverse. In each Marvel universe there is a different Earth, a different Spider-Man, a different Stan Lee cameo, etc. This concept takes stories like 1602, which is a reimagination of the Marvel Universe in Elizabethan times, and changes it from a cool story that you can enjoy separate from the mainstream comics, and turns it into a different universe that exists concurrently with the mainstream universe. Mainstream Marvel is Universe 616. MCU is Universe 199999. And the Ultimate universe is, of course, Universe-1610.
15 years ago, everyone was tired of all of the continuity in the 616. It was too hard to have the characters do anything without reading 1000 other books beforehand, to make sure that you weren’t betraying the characters or their history. So Marvel had an idea. They could just start over. Peter Parker back in high school. Charles Xavier starting to round up mutants. Reed Richards building a rocket to space. These wouldn’t just be among the countless re-tellings of these character’s origins, but would reset everything. Readers could start fresh, and writers and artists could tell these classic stories with whatever updates they wanted. The problem was that regardless of the balls it took to create the Ultimate universe – a name that lets you know exactly when it was created – Marvel had shrinkage when it came to also killing the 616, with all of the rich history and characters it had spent the last 40 years creating. So they decided that both lines would run at the same time. Horrible idea? Absolutely.
But it totally worked. It turns out Marvel readers had no problem reading stories about a married Peter Parker in his early 30’s, and a Peter Parker in high school with the dumbest hair you’ve ever seen, all at the same time. The Ultimate-line launched with Marvel’s hottest writers, and it was awesome. It sounded like it would be baby comics for babies, and instead it was great. But most of those hot writers left (Brian Michael Bendis is still writing Ultimate Spider-Man, 15 years later), and that lack of continuity all of a sudden became 15 years of continuity. The newness wore off, but when newness is your main commodity, how long do you really have anyway. So Marvel, always the last to know, finally figured out that no one cared about the Ultimate line anymore, and something had to be done.
The problem is that the Ultimate line has Miles Morales, Peter Parker’s Blatino replacement, and a popular character – far too popular to just kill off with the rest of the Ultimate line. Also, the Ultimate line has the Nick Fury that the MCU Nick Fury was based on, the one that was originally based on Samuel L. Jackson. You can’t get rid of him – he’s a movie star! So Marvel had no choice. They had to create an elaborate storyline, essentially ending the 616 as we know it today, so that they could salvage whatever pieces of the Ultimate line they wanted and get everyone into the same universe. It’s so dumb. I’m so excited. I’m so dumb.
WHAT’S THE COMIC BOOK REASON FOR THIS BIG DUMB SHIT?
Time travel is an easy way to make stories possible, and so superheroes, and their writers, use it alot. But what if there were repercussions to all of this time/space manipulation, other than readers rolling their eyes at a tired trope. It turns out, in the 616, there are. All of these egomaniacal, douchebag super heroes fucked around with time and space so much that they essentially broke it. That means that instead of different Earths occupying the same areas in different realities, multiple Earths are in the same reality. I might be a little fuzzy on all of the science, but basically two Earths are about to slam into each other. And, as luck would have it, those two Earths are the 616 and the Ultimate Universe.
The 616 Illuminati has known about this for some time. The Illuminati is a brain trust of genius dickheads, including Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Beast, Namor, and Dr. Strange. They allegedly have been working on a way to keep this incursion from happening, but have realized that the 616 has no choice but to destroy that other planet. Either the other planet dies, or everyone does. So they make their planet-destroying weapon, and attempt to lay waste to billions of people. But instead of our Marvel universe destroying that dirty Ultimate planet and creating 40 more years of continuity-filled stories, parts of the 616 and the Ultimate universe, along with parts of dozens of other Marvel universes, continuities, and storylines, are all sucked up and taken to a place called Battleworld.
So if Marvel is going to take all of their characters from all of their universes and pit them up against each other, we’re going to do that same thing to their titles, writers, and artists. Starting next week, every single new title that comes out will be entered into the second biggest tournament of the summer. Just the first week alone sees an all-female Avengers team taking on Deadpool, a world of Iron Fists taking on a world of Hulks, and every Spider-Man taking on the end Ultimate universe. The rest of the summer will take us back to Civil War, Old Man Logan, the Siege, the Korvac Saga, Marvel Zombies, Age of Apocalypse, and many other Marvel events and storylines from comics’ past, some of which were good. 5 PopFilter writers have been tasked with reading and writing about everything that’s come out, with their Marvel experience ranging from lifelong fans to interested noobs. Their Marvel knowledge levels might be different, but their goals are all the same: eliminate the dreck, elevate the great, and band together to find the one Secret Wars comic you need to go back and read. Because, as always, there can only be one.