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The worldbuilding of 'Secret Wars': Tie-ins

This article contains spoilers for Hickman’s “Avengers” (2012 - 2015), “New Avengers” (2013 - 2015), “Secret Wars” (2015), along with various “Secret Wars”-affiliated stories

Time runs out. Everything ends. That is what “Secret Wars” is all about.

“Secret Wars” is the follow up to writer Johnathan Hickman’s “Avengers” and “New Avengers” series, both of which I very much enjoyed. After the end of the multiverse in the two intertwined series, what exactly is left? The answer is Battleworld! Battleworld is made up of 41 unique regions that were pulled together by Earth-616’s Doctor Victor von Doom, who serves as God Emperor of the patchwork planet. Travel by normal citizens of the domains is strictly forbidden, so the stories are relatively contained to their own space.

While one could just read “Secret Wars” and nothing else, you’d be missing out on a ton of world-building and genuinely good stories that came out of the unique scenario of Battleworld. All 41 regions are unique in their own way and demonstrate the imagination of the Marvel multiverse. (I’ve been using the Marvel Guides “Secret Wars” reading order and the guides on the Marvel Unlimited app.) I’ve slowly been working through the various “Secret Wars”-affiliated stories, and here are some of my thoughts so far.

Last Days (as a whole)

The Last Days series of comics was fulfilling and filled out the last days of some of Earth-616’s before its collision with Earth-1610, which I really liked. Some of the stories I genuinely liked, while others I didn’t especially care for. “Last Days of Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” didn’t feel like it added anything that the ending of “Avengers” didn’t, “Last Days of Silver Surfer” was okay but nothing more, and I don’t know enough about Silk to really care for “Last Days of Silk.”

“Last Days of Loki: Agent of Asgard,” on the other hand, was a really good read! It showed a lot about Loki’s craftiness and character that made for a unique side story. “Last Days of The Punisher” built on not just The Punisher as a character, but other characters as well as the end of the world was about to happen.

Overall, Last Days was a good addition to the end of Earth-616, and I’d suggest at least giving the Black Widow, Loki, Ms. Marvel, and The Punisher stories a shot.

'Secret Wars Journal'

“Secret Wars Journal” is a really good intro point for anyone that wants to get a taste of what Battleworld is like. Each issue collects two stories from a different part of Battleworld. My favorite story of the collection is “Hell’s Kitchen,” which is in Issue 2. The story takes place in the Bar Sinister domain where Matt Murdock (Daredevil in Earth-616) is the head chef known as “Fare-devil” in the kitchen of Mr. Sinister, the baron of Bar Sinister.

His lover, Collektra, is trapped under the influence of Baron Sinister. Murdock has been trying to have Collektra secretly build an immunity to a certain poison by slowly adding it to her food every night. One night, in a desperate attempt to free him and Collektra from the Baron’s clutches, he poisons all the food to kill his master. However, Murdock learns that Collektra has not built up an immunity, but has been dying and cloned by Sinister every night. Murdock also learns the poison has no effect on the Baron, as he is immortal — a perfectly tragic ending.

I think this story perfectly captures the potential of Battleworld in a quick and straightforward way. If you don’t want to get a full gist of the world but are still interested, “Secret Wars Journal” is the place to begin.

'Master of Kung Fu'

“Master of Kung Fu” was a pretty fun story that follows Shang-Chi in the domain of K’un Lun. Shang-Chi has left his father’s house and is now a drunkard on the street. Despite his drunkenness, he still knows how to put up a fight. After some villagers help him escape and some additional conflict, Shang-Chi teaches those in the lowest caste how to fight, thus becoming the master of a house and eligible to take on his father for the throne.

The story is a fun take on Shang-Chi, and I liked the brief cameos of other superheroes in this domain like Iron Fist and Moon Knight. It’s a good and fun story that is definitely driven by character development.

'1872'

In “1872,” we go to the domain of The Valley of Doom, where everything is like the Old West. Kingpin rules over the town of Timely as governor, and sheriff Steve Rodgers stands up to his rule. It’s a classic “good guy stands up to evil guy,” story, but the characterization of many classic Marvel characters makes it a really good read.

'Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows'

“Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows” seems like a “what could have been” story to me, and I really liked it. This story takes place in Regency, the domain ruled by Regent where most superheroes have been killed and their powers taken by Regent. That is, except for Peter Parker (Spider-man), who ended up killing Eddie Brock (Venom) to save his family. Peter and his family remain in hiding until a larger crackdown on superheroes forces him to take action.

Overall, I found it a little questionable that Spider-man was the superhero that Regent wanted the powers of the most. Surely having the powers of so many X-men and Avengers would make up for it? I thought Spider-man killing Venom was a beautiful illustration of a Spider-man who is willing to cross lines to protect his family, and the story is very well paced. Highly recommend it!

'Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps'

“Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps” was a very “eh” story for me. I think part of it is because I simply don’t care for Captain Marvel as a character, and the premise was pretty boring. Essentially, Captain Marvel starts to question the orders she is getting from the Baron of the domain (Hala Field). She is ordered to destroy a ship that has Ultrons on it (spoilers: It doesn’t), and saves the captain Jim Rhodes, who is from the domain of Limbo. Captain Marvel questions authority, etc., etc., her squad overcomes the Baron, etc., etc. Not that exciting of a story, and it ends on a "cliffhanger."

'Inferno'

I would be lying if I said I enjoyed “Inferno.” It was okay and nothing more. The premise is that in this domain, Limbo, demons have spawned in New York City and taken over Manhattan. A forcefield is put up around Manhattan that keeps all the demons trapped there, but Colossus' sister has become Hellchild, the ruler of the demons of Manhattan. There wasn’t much about the story that held my interest, but it had some okay battle sequences, and Nightcrawler getting turned into a giant monster was pretty cool.