The Marvel Universe Is Officially Ending In May

Marvel Comics announced today that the Marvel Universe as we've known it for over 50 years will come to an end in May's Secret Wars #1. Here's an explanation of what that actually means, and what you should expect going forward.

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1. The Marvel Universe as we've known it since 1961 will come to an end in Secret Wars #1.

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Secret Wars is spinning out of a story that has been running in two concurrently published Avengers series – Avengers and New Avengers – that are both written by Jonathan Hickman, who is also writing the Secret Wars miniseries. Hickman's story has been mainly about the collapse of the Marvel multiverse, and the Avengers being forced to make extremely difficult ethical decisions in order to protect their universe at the expense of other universes. This has been an increasingly huge and cataclysmic story, and will essentially result in the destruction of the Marvel Universe that has existed since the '60s.

2. As of May, Marvel = BATTLEWORLD.

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Hickman's long-term story will come to a head in Secret Wars #1, in which the Marvel Universe will merge with the Ultimate Marvel Universe and several other alternate versions of the Marvel Universe. The result of this merger will be a thing called Battleworld, and for the duration of the Secret Wars event, all stories will be set there, and deal with various versions of Marvel's characters fighting for survival. Many of the worlds that will merge into Battleworld will be variations of classic Marvel stories and existing alternate timelines — Days of Future Past, Age of Apocalypse, Civil War, House of M — while some will bring in elements of non-comics continuity, like the X-Men animated series from the early '90s.

3. Nothing is safe during Secret Wars.

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Marvel is planning to make some very bold storytelling moves throughout Secret Wars, emboldened by the insanely high stakes of the event. “This is putting an endcap to decades of stories and starting a new era," Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said at a press conference announcing the event. "When you see the scope of the event, [you will] see what we’re willing to do. This is a place where we’re going to be bringing new pieces onto the board and taking old pieces off. You guys will be yelling and screaming, loving and hating in equal measure."

4. A new Marvel Universe will emerge as a result of Secret Wars.

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According to Alonso, this version of Marvel will not wipe out the existing history of the Marvel Universe — "our history is not broken," he said in a Q&A session following the press conference announcing Secret Wars. The new Marvel will instead be a conglomerate of familiar history, elements imported from alternate versions of the Marvel Universe, and entirely new things.

5. Secret Wars has been in the works for a long time, and every Marvel title since 2012 has been building toward this event.

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Readers of Marvel's many existing ongoing series should rest easy knowing that every writer and editor working at the company has known about Secret Wars for a few years and that all long-running plots will either come to a conclusion during Secret Wars or exist in some form after the event.

6. Secret Wars is the first major Marvel event that will extend beyond the publishing arm of the company.

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According to Alonso and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, Secret Wars has been in the works since at least 2011, and all of the major publishing events since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 have been leading toward this eventual reboot of the publishing line. Secret Wars will be promoted across many licensed products including trading cards, games, and toys. This will mark the first time the comics line will be in sync with licensed products since the original Secret Wars was published in 1984. That story, which was Marvel's first major crossover, was created to promote a toy line produced by Kenner.