Over the past few weeks I’ve been catching up on Marvel’s releases starting with Secret Wars: Battleworld; last summer’s blockbuster styled comic event. This is Marvel’s first big attempt to retcon their main comicbooks into one single continuity, thus hereby eliminating the Ultimate universe (MU-1610).
So to begin we have to go back about a year ago, The Final Incursion was upon us. Marvel’s Ultimate Universe and main universe (616) came crashing together. Heroes and villains alike scrambled to ensure the survival of what they held dear. Foreseeing the need to survive, Reed Richards, constructs a high-tech life raft; which he places his family and a few particular heroes onboard. A darker version of Reed Richards, known as The Maker of MU-1610, has worked out a plan of his own to survive the cataclysm. This plan involves manipulating the heroes of his Earth. Every other character at this point is dealing with the end in their own way; whether that is helping people, saying goodbye to loved ones, or fighting with the incursion. 616 Dr. Doom is with Dr. Strange and the Molecule Man (most powerful entity in existence) at the event horizon, confronting the Beyonders. Molecule Man offers the two Dr.’s his power to save what they will. Strange decides he cannot accept such power and allows Dr. Doom the ability to change reality. Upon doing so we enter Battleworld, a patchwork world; filled to the brim with bits and pieces of Marvel’s most popular stories over the past 40 years. Doom makes himself into a god-king of this world. He places Strange into a Warden position, overseeing his police force and all the Barons. You may ask yourself “what kind of police force does a god need?” But Doom, in his genius and hubris, creates a force of all Thors. Once a year he destroys a star to create a new hammer, which is then bestowed upon one worthy to wield it. They maintain some semblance of stability across the realms the barons who operate each.
As I persisted through the event, I found many stories that bewildered me and few that were doldrum to get into. You had instances where a version of New York is a mix of both the 1610 and 616 universes complete with two versions of every hero. You could find the Old Man Logan world filled with mutated hulk monsters and an aged world-weary Wolverine traveling around. There's a land occupied by just Mr. Sinisters adjacent to a world from the Age of Apocalypse, complete with all the trappings and characters. There have been so many possibilities. You read through these stories, and sometimes characters bleed across the realities. What enchanted me was the fact that if I felt turned off by one story, I could switch to another one and keep moving. The main storyline keeps driving towards a climactic battle on Doom’s front lawn, I cannot wait to finish it.
I found that I was transfixed in a storyline centered on Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu. In this story, The Mandarin is the emperor and wields a mastery of the martial art style, the ten rings, each ring being a different mystical art form. Shang Chi, opens the story as the disgraced son of the emperor. He utilizes a drunken fist style reminiscent of Jackie Chan’s early days in Wuxia films. The story itself plays out like most Bruce Lee films. There's a tournament and a redemption of the prodigal son, but what I adored most was the attention to detail. The other clans vying for power in the book, are many clans representing main heroes from other stories, like a Namor clan who use water to fight, and a spider clan.
Another fantastic tale I read the other night titled 1872. It tells the story of Timely and it's denizens. Timely is a town in the wild west, beset with rambunctious outlaws, unjust governors and mayors, and dutiful law types. The head of the Roxxon mining company who has dammed up the only river in the entire desert surrounding the town, governs Timely. Roxxon appoints Wilson Fisk to clean up Timely, he is then set up as the mayor and given complete run of the place. Steve Rogers is sheriff along with his deputy James “Bucky” Barnes. Filled with regretful characters seeking redemption, and finally standing up for what is right. Rounded out by Anthony Stark, the town drunkard, who regrets creating such efficient repeating rifles for the American Civil War; Bruce Banner the local apothecary, who fixes remedies or many people in town, but also knows his way around explosives; Natasha Barnes, the widow of Bucky and former assassin in her own right; last is Red Wolf, a native american trying to destroy the dam to save his people who are dying of dehydration.
The ingenious use of the intellectual properties has driven me to keep picking up additional stories. I have been reading these on the Marvel Unlimited App, which runs 6 months behind for the releases. As of this writing I still have not finished the event due to that delay. This has led to a bigger mystery as that set of stories picks up six months after this event ends. Join me next week, as I delve into Marvel's All New All Different books, such as: Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, The Vision, and much more.