Marvel promised "the announcement to end all announcements" at today's "Secret Wars" press conference at Midtown Comics in New York City with Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort both discussing the May-debuting event series from Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic.
The big news delivered during the event is that the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe will combine in the inciting incident of "Secret Wars," in an "incursion" as described in Hickman's "Avengers" and "New Avengers" run. The end result is Battleworld, which has been previously partly revealed by a series of teaser images drawing off of past Marvel history -- and it's not just those two prominent universes that will be colliding.
"The Ultimate Universe, the Marvel Universe, they're going to slap together," Alonso said. "Imagine two pizzas: They're going to combine toppings, some toppings are going to drop off. And that is the Marvel Universe moving forward. It's more than the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, it's all the universes you can imagine. That is the Marvel Universe going forward."
The series of previously released teasers only represent about half of the Battleworld landscape, as revealed by Marvel. Multiple announcements are planned over the next two weeks for more stories tying in to "Secret Wars."
"Once you hit 'Secret Wars' #1, there's no Marvel Universe, there's no Ultimate Universe," Brevoort said. "It's all Battleworld." "None of these stories are What Ifs are alternate reality stories," Alonso added. "And they will have legs. They will impart new things into the Marvel Universe going forward."
Today's news raises plenty of more questions, including what Marvel's publishing line will look like as a whole during the course of "Secret Wars" -- and what shape the Marvel Universe will be in after the event. CBR's full coverage of the presentation follows, and check back soon for more from the event.
Marvel PR's Chris D'Lando started the conference by recapping the original "Secret Wars" announcement last fall at New York Comic Con. D'Lando asked Alonso and Brevoort how it feels to get to this point, given that Hickman's "Avengers" run has been building to the event since 2012.
"'Secret Wars' is the culmination of the storyline that Jonathan has been telling, beginning with the first issue of 'Avengers' and 'New Avengers' that he wrote," Brevoort said. "Readers have begun to get a sense of the whole picture, and seem to be becoming much more excited about it, which is great. This is something that we've been headed towards literally since the start of Marvel NOW!."
Brevoort related that the idea for "Secret Wars" actually originated before Hickman's "Avengers" run began, before everyone at Marvel saw the potential of what the story could be. "It's a lot bigger now than what was originally imagined," Brevoort said. "I've said it before, it sounds like typical Stan Lee hyperbole, but it is difficult to imagine something that would be larger in scope and scale than what we're doing in 'Secret Wars.' We've never done anything like this before, ever."
"All the divisions are in line," Alonso added. "It's the most coordinated event we've ever done. As everyone knows, we're a shared universe. Every single time we've done an event, we've always had to be mindful of 'Secret Wars.'"
Brevoort recapped the current "Avengers" storyline, "a series of intersections between universes. Situations where two parallel universes intersect at a given point." Such intersections are called "incursions" -- "two Earths go in, one comes out. Or none of them come out."
"Having become aware of this, the Black Panther reformed the Illuminati," Brevoort continued, though the group has not yet figured out how to deal with the problem.
Alonso prepared to drop the "big bomb": "The Ultimate Universe, the Marvel Universe, they're going to slap together. Imagine two pizzas: They're going to combine toppings, some toppings are going to drop off. And that is the Marvel Universe moving forward. It's more than the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, it's all the universes you can imagine. That is the Marvel Universe going forward."
The final issues of "Avengers" and "New Avengers" will build up to this incursion, but "Secret Wars" #1 will contain the main action of this event "The heroes of those two worlds will have eight hours to figure out what to do about it before both universes are destroyed," Brevoort said. "And they won't. I've ruined 'Secret Wars' #1 for you!"
The previously revealed "Battleworld" is the "melting world from which the new Marvel Universe will be fermented," Brevoort said, calling it the "detritus" from the resulted combined Marvel Universe. "Various characters will live their lives, and contend with this new situation, and set up all the building blocks and the bedrock of what the new Marvel Universe will be going forward."
"There will be conflicts and fighting," Alonso added. "Imagine that."
"Once you hit 'Secret Wars' #1, there's no Marvel Universe, there's no Ultimate Universe," Brevoort said. "It's all Battleworld." "None of these stories are What Ifs are alternate reality stories," Alonso said. "And they will have legs. They will impart new things into the Marvel Universe going forward."
All of the previously revealed Battleworld teasers represent parts of the new Marvel Universe, and are described as only the "tip of the iceberg." Several "Secret Wars"-related announcements are planned over the next two weeks.
"If you're an 'Amazing Spider-Man' reader, this is going to be your book," Alonso said, pointing to the teaser of a married Peter Parker and Mary Jane with a child.
The presentation that cut to the previously released "Battleworld" teaser video, showing the series of teaser images combining into the new Battleworld landscape. "We haven't even announced half the titles," D'Lando said of the "Secret Wars" tie-ins. An interactive map of Battleworld will be released later today on Marvel.com.
Talk turns to the "Secret Wars" Free Comic Book Day release. "It's a little bit of a primer," Brevoort said. "You'll get caught up to speed where everything is in the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe going into 'Secret Wars.'" Also, the issue will include the Marvel/Attack on Titan crossover, previously only published in Japan.
The cover to "Secret Wars" #2, illustrated by Alex Ross, is revealed. "There's a whole lot of Thor going on," Brevoort said of the image.
"Secret Wars" #2 will also ship in May. "In sort of an odd twist, the second issue is the fat one. It's a gargantuan, oversized issue. It will give a full guided tour of the new Battleworld, and set up everything you need to know. Esad Ribic just turned in the last pages for it earlier today. Stunningly beautiful work by Esad."
Speaking of the legacy of the story, Alonso said, "This is putting an endcap to decades of stories, and starting a new era. When you see the scope of the stories, you'll see what we're willing to do. If we wanted to resurrect Gwen Stacy, this would be the place to do it, wouldn't it? If you ever wondered what would happen if you take the 'Age of Ultron' universe and perch it next to the 'Marvel Zombies' universe, this would be the place to do it." Alonso said he thinks "Secret Wars" will be a great jumping-on point for new fans.
Hasbro, Mighty Fine, Mad Engine, Funko and Hot Wheels are named as licensors working on "Secret Wars" merchandise. Marvel's game division is also at work on interactive tie-ins.
"We tell our own stories," Alonso said, of the belief that Marvel publishing follows the lead of Marvel Studios. "You'll be shocked at the chances we're willing to take."
The live stream froze right as the presentation was ending, but here's a final quote from Brevoort via Marvel's Twitter account:
A replay of the event can be viewed here:
CBR's Brett White is on-site for the post-event Q&A, and will have a full report soon. Keep reading CBR for much more coverage on "Secret Wars"!