Secret Wars and Battleworld Explained
Revisit the epic comics event that reshaped the Marvel Universe!
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Seven years ago, Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribić destroyed the Marvel Universe and made a new Multiverse in its place within the pages of SECRET WARS (2015). The modern event series shared some connective tissue with the original SECRET WARS (1984) by Jim Shooter and artists Mike Zeck and Bob Layton. In particular, the 1984 series was the first appearance of Battleworld and the Beyonder, as well as Doctor Doom’s (first) semi-successful attempt to gain the powers of a god.
Hickman set the stage for his updated take on the story during series AVENGERS (2012) and NEW AVENGERS (2013), particularly during the “Time Runs Out” tie-ins that saw the Marvel Universe’s final days before the Incursion. The concise synopsis is that the Illuminati, powerful gatekeepers who represent the interest of heroes, discovered that different universes were colliding during “Incursion events,” and it soon left the Marvel Multiverse a shadow of its former self. The Beyonders, an omnipotent alien race, were behind this cataclysmic disaster, which left only the Prime Marvel Universe (Earth-616) and the Ultimate Marvel Universe to fight each other for the right to survive.
The entire SECRET WARS saga and its many tie-ins are available on digital comics super-service Marvel Unlimited. But as a primer for one of the most important stories in Marvel history, we’re taking a look back at the biggest moments from the event.
THE END OF EVERYTHING
As predicted, the clash between the Prime and Ultimate Marvel Universes proved to be costly for both sides in SECRET WARS (2015) #1. Only the Punisher made the most out of the opportunity by crashing the Kingpin’s Super Villain watch party and crossing off most of his bucket list in the process.
Reed Richards (AKA Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) and his allies realized that the fight was meaningless and attempted to evacuate their friends and loved ones on an interdimensional life raft designed to survive the end of the universe itself. But for Reed, there was nothing more devastating than watching his family fall from the safety of the life raft and into the oblivion of the Incursion that destroyed the remaining universes.
GOD EMPEROR DOOM
The second issue largely takes place from the point of view of a rookie member of the Thor Corps, who serve as the enforcers on a new version of Battleworld, the patchwork planet now ruled by Doctor Doom. Perhaps Doom was inspired by the original Battleworld that the Beyonder created all those years ago. But this world was literally all that was left of the Multiverse. And, Doom being Doom, he couldn’t resist setting himself up as the unquestioned overlord of everything.
That’s why the big reveal of this issue is of God Emperor Doom himself, with his wife, Susan Von Doom, and their children, Franklin and Valeria. For Doom, it wasn’t enough to be omnipotent. He had to claim the wife and children of his greatest enemy as well. Unfortunately for Doom, the beginning of the end of his reign began when Thanos and his Cabal emerged on Battleworld from a life raft of their own.
On Battleworld, Sheriff Stephen Strange was God Emperor Doom’s closest ally and advisor, and one of the few who remembered what reality was like before Doom seized power. When Miles Morales revealed himself to Strange in SECRET WARS #3, the Sheriff shared a secret of his own: He had already found the heroes’ life raft eight years earlier.
Reed Richards, Black Panther, and the other survivors of Earth-616 were immediately dismayed by the new world they found themselves in. Meanwhile, Thanos and the Cabal made themselves at home by openly attacking the Thor Corps.
EVEN A PHOENIX CAN DIE
Sheriff Strange told the assembled heroes how he and Doom saved what was left of reality from the Beyonders before teleporting the makeshift team to the battle between Thanos’ group and the Thors. This inevitably attracted the attention of Doom himself, who appeared on the scene shortly thereafter in issue #4.
At the time, Cyclops of the X-Men had the power of the Phoenix Force, which in theory, should have been enough to challenge Doom’s might. Instead, Doom murdered Cyclops in seconds and demanded that the remaining survivors bow before him. When Strange teleported them all away, Doom turned on perhaps his only friend and killed Strange.
Thanks to the events of AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (2012) and NEW AVENGERS (2013), Namor and Black Panther hated each other. And yet the two rivals found themselves forced to work together in SECRET WARS #5. Similarly, Doom revealed that he had an ally of his own: Molecule Man, whose power allowed Doom the taste of omnipotence that he had always desired.
Meanwhile, the displaced Thanos discovered that Doom’s Battleworld Shield was actually a living extension of Ben Grimm, AKA the Thing.
THE HAMBURGER THAT SAVED THE UNIVERSE
Does that sound ridiculous? It’s not. In SECRET WARS #6, the Spider-Men, Peter Parker and Miles Morales, found Molecule Man in his hiding place. And Molecule Man was so desperate for real sustenance that he was truly grateful for Miles’ gift of a hamburger that he had been carrying around. This would come up again in SECRET WARS #9, as Molecule Man felt that he owed Miles a favor for that simple gesture.
At the same time, Doom’s reign began to crumble as a “Prophet” began leading an uprising against his rule. Even Valeria was becoming suspicious of her “father,” while Black Panther and Namor came across an arsenal to use against Doom...which included an Infinity Gauntlet.
THE KING OF THE DEAD
Among T’Challa’s many titles is “The King of the Dead.” In SECRET WARS #7, Black Panther lived up to this status when he convinced an army of Marvel Zombies to fight on his behalf against Doom. Elsewhere, Reed Richards teamed up with his evil counterpart from the Ultimate Universe, Maker, in a bid to infiltrate Castle Doom and free Battleworld from Doom’s total control.
THE SON OF DOOM
Events came to a head in SECRET WARS #8, as Ben Grimm attacked Castle Doom only to discover that Franklin and his herald, Galactus, were waiting for him. In a tragic moment, Ben refused to fight Franklin and he was rewarded with a gruesome death by the boy who no longer remembered his favorite uncle.
Thanos fared no better when he came face-to-face with Doom. Without an Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos was unable to do anything when Doom casually removed his skeleton from his body. The only one who stood a fighting chance was Black Panther, armed with an Infinity Gauntlet and backed by both Namor and the army of zombies.
Although Black Panther fought valiantly in issue #9, the final battle was always going to come down to Reed Richards and Doom. These rivals have butted heads for decades, but this was the fight for the Multiverse itself. In a moment of weakness, Doom conceded that Reed would have done a better job of saving the Multiverse. Unfortunately for Doom, Molecule Man took that as an invitation to give Reed the cosmic powers that had been propping up Battleworld. The reign of Doom was at long last over.
In the aftermath, the Ultimate Universe was gone. But because of Miles’ kindness to him, Molecule Man ensured that Miles and his friends had a place in the new Prime Universe. Even Miles’ late mother, Rio Morales, was resurrected into this new world.
Reed and Susan Storm reunited with their children and the Future Force as they went on a journey to restore the Multiverse. As for Doom, Reed restored his face and gave him the chance to become something greater than he was before: A hero.
To discover what comes next, take a dive into Marvel Unlimited and read the complete event!
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