By CODY MUDGE
This May, the Marvel universe will change. Or to those more versed in the realm of comics books, it would be more aptly put that the Marvel universe will be changing again.
Superstar writer Jonathan Hickman will be capping off his multi-year run on the Avengers and New Avengers titles with the Time Runs Out story-line which leads directly into the Secret Wars event, also to be penned by Hickman. Secret Wars, which takes its name from one of the first ever event comics, will result in various Marvel universe locales and worlds amalgamating into Battleworld. Instead of separate universes for various popular characters, Marvel will now offer all characters in one place, Battleworld. This means that readers who want to see Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales and Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man from the year 2099, web-swinging beside the venerable Peter Parker, the original Amazing Spider-Man, will see their wish come true.
Battleworld represents perhaps the greatest shift of chronology and continuity in Marvel’s history. In 2012 Marvel NOW! was a re-launch of sorts, and looking back on that might give readers some inclination of what to expect as new titles begin to roll out in May.
“From what we’ve been told, Battleworld won’t be as sweeping as Marvel NOW! was,” said Andy Brast, owner of Waterloo’s Carry-On Comics. “That rebranding ended many series that had run for decades, many as long as Marvel Comics had existed up to that point, and replaced everything with a new No. 1 issue.
Battleworld doesn’t seem to be as wide sweeping although new readers will certainly find many new entry points into Marvel’s lineup.”
And gaining new readership seems like the goal of Battleworld. Marvel’s website has a large interactive graphic where readers can go to see the geographical makeup of Battleworld and also read about the origin of each unique region. Like any shake up of a comic book universe, many new series will debut starting in May with more being announced every week. Though many new series have been confirmed Marvel has stressed that the events that have taken place in the Marvel universe will still be considered canonical.
Battleworld will draw several series to a close, despite the fact that they were just re-launched in the past few years as a part of Marvel NOW! something that doesn’t sit right with some. After 15 years the Ultimate universe, which captured the hearts and minds of a new generation of comic readers, will also be discontinued in Ultimate End, another part of the Battleworld restructuring. The Ultimate imprint served largely as the inspiration for the structure of the Marvel cinematic universe and is beloved by many of Marvel’s faithful for its modern, edgier take on Marvel’s oldest heroes. The cancellation of so many popular series and the birth of new ones might be appealing to new readers but existing ones might not share the same sentiment.
“Overall it seems like most of our regular readers aren’t very eager for the change. A number of them have gone so far as to request that we don’t pull their normal titles for an issue or two. It gets frustrating as a longtime reader to see established and loved characters changed for a flashy new debut that will buoy sales briefly. Those attracted by that little number aren’t the ones who keep the industry relevant and profitable,” Brast said.
Yet many readers seem to be interested in Battleworld and what it will mean for these characters who have reached a massive untapped audience through various movies. Comics book heroes are as recognizable and in vogue now as they have been in decades.
“I’m very curious to see what happens during Secret Wars and then after with Battleworld. I know it isn’t universally something people are excited about but as a longtime reader I can’t really help but be excited,” said Sherri Moyer, a life-long comics fan.