OK, but…”Battleworld??”

22 01 2015


Followers of this blog may remember that back in 2011, when DC comics rebooted their whole publication line, I took the opportunity to dive in. The success of the New 52, by every measure, is mixed. DC got a bump in sales, but it hasn’t held up. All the reader commentary I’ve seen skews negative. Personally I’ve enjoyed a handful of titles by my favorite writers, and found the rest to be dumb (this has been my experience of superhero comics since 1986.)

Now Marvel is planning something very similar; starting in May, the Marvel universe is ending. They’re being a little coy about what that means exactly. They probably don’t want it to sound like the New 52, but that’s what it sounds like. Is Marvel about to blow it? Or will this be a savvy move that energizes and streamlines the myriad storylines of Marvel characters?

To be precise (bear with me here), both Marvel Universes are ending: the Marvel Universe, and the Ultimate Marvel Universe. The Marvel Universe is where all the characters started, and it essentially maintains their histories going back to the 1961 debut issues. The Ultimate Universe was launched in 2000, and re-told the origins and classics storylines of the core characters, set in the present day and updated for a contemporary audience. I have more to say about this dual universe dynamic, but I’ll save it for another post.

Now the two universes are going to “smash together” due to events in the upcoming Secret Wars miniseries. Parts of each universe will survive, in something called Battleworld.

What the heck is Battleworld? Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort broke the news, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. “Once we hit Secret Wars #1, there is no Marvel Universe, Ultimate Universe, or any other. It’s all Battleworld,” said Brevoort. And from Newsarama, “by the time Secret Wars #1 hits the stands in May, every world in Marvel’s multiverse will be destroyed, with pieces of each forming Battleworld, the staging ground for the Secret Wars storyline.”

So is Battleworld a planet? Made of pieces of other planets? Where all the characters engage in an endless fight tournament? Is Marvel Comics becoming Battleworld Comics, dedicated soully to answering the age old question of “who would win in a fight between” in all possible permutations?*

That sounds idiotic. And its more a reflection of poor spokesman-ship than actual plans for the universe, I’m guessing.

What this really sounds like is Disney Studios looking for a way to bring the comics, movies, and tv shows into closer alignment, in a way that is largely ignorant of what makes comic books tick.

I have to say I would welcome a New 52 style reboot. Especially one that had learned from the New 52’s missteps, that took a holistic view of the Marvel Universe(s), that was carefully crafted to be accessible, entertaining, and relevant.

Will that happen? Don’t bet your foil-embossed variant covers on it.

*A universe-wide fight tournament was basically the scenario for the original Secret Wars miniseries in the 80s. Not a good sign if you ask me.




One response

4 11 2015
Universes: The Point | Taking It Too Seriously

[…] recent years to get familiar with the large canvases of both the DC and Marvel universes (see some other recent posts). Both publishing houses encourage that approach, through big crossover events and […]

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