Sometime during Jonathan Hickman’s ambitious three year Avengers’ epic, arguably seven years if you include his Fantastic Four run, a term emerged among his fans; “In Hickman, We Trust.” Hickman, notorious for his grand plans and often criticized for slowly unraveling them, asked Marvel and their readers to put their faith in him. Marvel did just that when they tasked him with reshaping the entire Marvel Universe. Their end goal was Secret Wars, an event which would destroy and rebuild the Marvel multiverse. Was this trust in Hickman well-placed? Let’s take an in-depth look at Hickman’s grand finale.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Colorist: Ive Svorcina
Production: Idette Winecoor (Issues 2, 4-9)
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos (1-4, 6, 8) & Clayton Cowles (5, 7, 9)
Editors: Tom Brevort & Will Moss & Jon Moisan & Alanna Smith
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Article by: Shaun Martineau
Edited by: Brian Bradley
Everything Lives: So what changed in the aftermath of Secret Wars? Well, Miles Morales is now a part of the Marvel Prime. As I looked over what purpose each character served in the series, I realized why Peter Parker had to be part of the supporting cast. One of the biggest end goals of Secret Wars was to bring Miles Morales to the new Marvel Prime Universe and Peter was there almost entirely to facilitate this move. In this super packed event, there was no time to introduce Miles to new heroes and establish who he was, so by throwing him together with Peter we skip this ordeal. Not only was Secret Wars bringing Miles to the Marvel Prime, it gave him the title of Spider-Man, handed down by the one person who can; Peter Parker Prime.
Most of Miles’ supporting cast make the move as well. The biggest inclusion is the revival of Rio Morales, Miles’ mother. Miles was the one person on all of Battleworld that fed the starving Owen Reece. As thanks, Owen Reece brought his mother back from the dead; not bad for a three week old hamburger. The depiction of this in the main Secret Wars series also rendered Ultimate End useless, since its big purpose was to bring Miles’ mother back. Shame, since it was the final outing for the Ultimate Universe.
It’s my working theory that anybody who appeared in Ultimate Spider-Man and wasn’t a new take on an old character, made it over. That means Ganke, Bombshell, Miles’ family, and we even get Kong over in Starbrand and Nightmask. The one exception to this rule is The Maker is now kicking around in the Marvel Prime, but there’s a caveat; with no Prime Reed Richards, maybe he’s meant to fill the void?
The other big thing is Reed, Sue, Franklin, and Valeria Richards are now travelers of the Multiverse, mapping out the universe as they create it. They’ve got the cast of the Future Foundation with them, but they left Ben and Johnny behind so they could continue their lives in the Marvel Prime. God Reed and Franklin are now the architects of the Marvel Universe, which feels fitting after everything Hickman has put them through. This unfortunately meant the end of the Fantastic Four, but this is comics; nothing is ever permanent.
The events of Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers have been undone, thanks to Black Panther using the Time Gem to go back in time and rewrite them so things work out better (The Eight Months later period replacing the time period of Hickman’s Avengers.) It’s a very Doctor Who solution, but it’s one that works for the most part. Hickman never made his Avengers books a title where characters evolved drastically, he always just used them as they were at the time (Remender made Old Cap, AXIS made evil Tony, and so on.) So erasing the events of his run doesn’t create too many plot holes. The only two I can think of at this time is what replaces Black Bolt releasing the Terrigan Mists in Infinity (possibly the bombing Cyclops is guilty of) and what leads to Sunspot buying AIM and leading the Avengers as he does towards the end of Hickman’s run.
While most of the Marvel Universe has forgotten the events, a few remember. Singularity, appearing in A-Force, is one of these characters. Old Man Logan and Squadron Supreme are both survivors of Battleworld, with the Squadron killing Namor for the part he played in destroying their homes so they seem to remember as well. The last page also implies that Doom remembers and the experience will lead to him pursuing a more heroic life over in Invincible Iron-Man. The big one is Black Panther, who clearly remembers and creates the Ultimates and a space faring Alpha Flight, in place of the New Avengers/Illuminati. This is fitting, since Black Panther drove the events of Hickman’s run as much as Reed Richards. I hope that Al Ewing is the one to bring Reed back, over in the Black Panther led Ultimates.
So did it all work? For the most part, yes. Sure, the Multiverse isn’t gone like was teased, but there were causalities and evolutions and the Marvel 616 as we knew it is gone in place of a brighter Marvel Prime Universe. Everyone involved, from creators to editors to management should be commended. They shared a vision for a new Marvel Universe and despite some hiccups, they stuck with this vision to the end. It was fitting that Marvel’s First Family is the one to save it from the death of everything.