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Marvel's 'Secret Wars' marks the end, beginning of a universe

The cover to the first issue of Secret

The cover to the first issue of Secret Wars. Photo Credit: Marvel

For its next big comic book event following triumphs in the movies ("Avengers: Age of Ultron") and TV ("Daredevil"), Marvel is ending its current universe with the new miniseries "Secret Wars."

"'Secret Wars' is probably the biggest single story that has been done in the Marvel Universe," says Tom Brevoort, senior vice president and executive editor for Marvel Comics. "It represents the end of the Marvel Universe, as it is currently known. ... All legends have an ending."

But that doesn't mean Marvel's calling it quits. Of course not.

"'Secret Wars' is simultaneously the end of the Marvel Universe as it now stands, and the birth, the dawning of a new Marvel Universe. A new and refreshed Marvel Universe by the end of it, and during the course of it," Brevoort says.

The first issue of the eight-issue miniseries, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribic, comes out Wednesday. Even if you've never read a comic, the issue will quickly get you up to speed. Basically, Brevoort says, the issue has two parallel earths on the verge of colliding in the next eight hours, destroying both worlds. It's up to the Marvel heroes to stop the collision.

"And they fail, so it's a really upbeat, positive first issue, feel good sort of a story," he says. "Things get weird and strange and new, and pick up from there. But all you really need to know is you're about to witness the last days of the Marvel Universe as it exists.

amNewYork spoke with Brevoort about the miniseries.

How will "Secret Wars" play out in the rest of the titles you publish?

"Secret Wars" is going to be a book that, by it's very nature, impacts on everything that we're doing. So most of our ongoing titles are reaching what ... their conclusion. Whatever that title is, be it "Spider-Man," be it "Captain America," be it "Thor." It will come to its natural conclusion and then, as we move into "Secret Wars" proper, there's a swath of titles, each of which represents within its pages, within its story, some building block, some foundational piece of the new Marvel Universe. So for at least some of these months -- and it's not all happening all at once because we knew that was going to be difficult for both readers and our retailers that all of the titles stop in a given month -- over the course of two or three months, you'll get to months where there is no "Captain America," there is no "Spider-Man" book, there is no "Thor" book, at least one that you recognize. There may be other books, because within the context of "Secret Wars," we're doing a bevy of series, many of which call back to a key and classic story lines and events from Marvel's past. So while there's not a typical "Amazing Spider-Man" book, there is an "Amazing Spider-Man" book called "Renew Your Vows," which is very much about the married Spider-Man of years gone by. There's also a "Spider-Island" book, there's also a "Spider-Verse" book, and that's just off the top of my head. So there's not a "Thor" book, but there is a "Thors" book, which has multiple Thors operating in the context of "Secret Wars." And there's not a "Captain America" book, but there is a "Hail Hydra" book that is all about a place in which Hydra has taken over and won, and what that means for everybody. So in most cases, there is something that is in some way analogous to a book that you may have been reading, but it also means that there is a lot of weird and interesting stuff coming out, and hopefully some of it will catch people's attention.

Is there a title you're especially excited for?

I think the "Civil War" series that Charles Soule and Leinil Yu are doing will be a good experience both for people who read the original "Civil War" and for people who are just interested in the idea of "Civil War" because they know it's the title of the next "Captain America" movie.

Why should people who saw "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and want to try out a comic make "Secret Wars" the book they pick up?

Well, I think, again, "Secret Wars" is going to be so big and all pervasive that frankly, they have no choice. [laughs] Eventually, no matter what Marvel title they pick, they're going to have to deal with "Secret Wars," so they might as well take it head on. On top of which, in terms of Marvel titles likely to give you the same sort of spectacle and bombast and personal stakes and personal angst as the "Age of Ultron" movie, "Secret Wars" has all that in spades.

DC Comics just left New York City for California. Is Marvel here to stay?

I can't speak to the larger company, so as far as I know, as far as I can tell, there are no plans to go anywhere. There are no plans to relocate, but 18 months from now I could be a liar if somebody at a high level goes, "Hey, guess what guys? You're going to Tennessee!" or whatever choice they make.

Why is New York City so integral to the Marvel Universe?

New York and Manhattan is woven into the firmament of Marvel and has been ever since Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko really started Marvel back in the '60s because they put the characters in the real world, in real cities, and mostly in the cities that they knew, New York City. So Spider-Man, he lives in Queens. He comes into the city to sell his papers at a newspaper office that is in [midtown]. The Baxter Building is in midtown and Avengers Mansion is up near Central Park. The Murdock and Nelson offices are over in Hell's Kitchen. So many of these characters, for so many of them, the city actually is a character. And you could continue to do that, you could carry on with that if we were located somewhere else, but it's not quite as immediate as it is with us being here. It's so much just a part of the identity of Marvel. It's good that we've maintained a presence here. We're shooting our Netflix TV series here. It's such a strong component of the Marvel identity.


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