Wednesday, October 15, 2014

May All Your Wars Be Secret

Marvel loves Secrets. It also loves Wars. Put the two words together, and, as Carl Weathers told Tobias Funke, you’ve got a stew going.

Yes, one of Marvel’s biggest New York ComicCon announcements was a new Secret Wars event by Avengers writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic, due to start in May 2015. A teaser poster shows various versions of Cap, Thor, Iron Man and other characters whose movie rights are still in-house battling it out.

And, of course, because it’s called Secret Wars, a tidal wave of B-holes took to the comment threads to post in all caps about how Marvel has no original ideas but still clearly takes all their money.

But this isn’t the first time Marvel has published a Secret Wars title since the original Secret Wars in 1984. And it’s certainly not the first time Marvel’s published a title or event with either Secret or War in it. In fact, over the past decade, those two words have joined Amazing, Astonishing, Infinity, X-, Spider-Man, Ultimate, etc. in the pantheon of words that show up far too often in Marvel titles.

Herewith, a sampling of Marvel’s Secret Wars, Secret other things and other-thing Wars:

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: The original 12-issue maxiseries by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck and Bob Layton that ran from 1984 to 1985, in which Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains were pitted against each other on Battleworld by a guy who hadn’t been told disco was dead. Oh, and it was a crass attempt to sell toys. Besides the Mattel line, however, the series also gave us Spider-Man’s black costume, the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter, and She-Hulk as the fourth member of the Fantastic Four, taking the place of the Thing (for more on alternate versions of the FF, click here).

Secret Wars II: In the 9-issue sequel by Shooter and Al Milgrom that ran from 1985 to 1986, the Beyonder comes to Earth in an attempt to understand the humans, pisses off Mephisto and hits on Dazzler and Boom-Boom, the latter of which is supposed to be a teenager, so gross.

Secret War: Leave off the last S for savings! Brian Michael Bendis wrote and Gabrielle Del’Otto drew this five-issue mini that started in April 2004 but didn’t wrap till December 2005 in which Nick Fury gathers Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Daredevil, Black Widow and Luke Cage for a top-secret mission in Latveria that goes pear-shaped. The story’s plot was incorporated into the second Marvel: Ultimate Alliance video game. And Lucia Von Bardas, the Latverian head of state created for the story, was referenced in a low-budget Fantastic Four musical that was part of the fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix.

Spider-Man and the Secret Wars: A three-issue mini by Paul Tobin and Patrick Scherberger from 2009 retelling the 1984 Secret Wars from Spidey’s perspective. CBR said the all-ages series poked fun at its namesake as a ridiculous, contrived excuse to sell toys.

Secret Invasion: The Skrulls’ long-simmering plot to colonize Earth carried our heroes from being divided by Civil War to being united in their hatred of Norman Osborn, the Spider-Man villain and Gwen Stacy killer who became head of the replacement agency for S.H.I.E.L.D. after he killed the Skrull queen at the end of the event and formed his own Illuminati of A-holes, including Dr. Doom, Namor, the Hood and the Noid, er, Void.

Secret Warriors: Nick Fury spent most of the first decade of the new millennium underground as a result of the Secret War, popping up only for certain people, including Spider-Woman, the Winter Soldier and his own personal strike team made up of the offspring of supervillains. These Thunderbolt Muppet Babies had their own series from 2009 to 2011, co-written by Bendis and Jonathan Hickman with art by Stefano Caselli.

Secret Avengers: Starting in post-Siege 2010, the Avengers formed their own X-Force in Secret Avengers, a black-ops team run by Commander Steve Rogers, who had just recently come back from the dead but hadn’t taken back the mantle of Captain America yet. Writers included Ed Brubaker (Captain America), Nick Spencer (Superior Foes of Spider-Man), Warren Ellis (Excalibur), Rick Remender (Captain America) and Ales Kot.

Secret Six: Just kidding. Secret Six is a critically and fan-beloved DC book by Gail Simone, whose work gets praised here on the reggy-reg.

Civil War: I feel like writing a synopsis of one of Marvel’s most popular crossovers ever, even snarkily and pumped full of gag hyperlinks, is like writing about the real Civil War as if people didn’t know what it was. Hey, have they brought back Bill Foster yet?

Revolutionary War: Unlike in U.S. history, Marvel’s Revolutionary War came after the Civil War. But it’s not a sequel, nor is it even a prequel, nor is there a Marvel’s War of 1812, which technically should have come between the two. Also the name is misleading, as it stars Marvel’s U.K. heroes as the good guys. But, hey, it’s got Pete Wisdom!

U.S. War Machine: A post-9/11 MAX maxiseries by Chuck Austen. One of the covers features an Iron Man suit wearing a Dum Dum Dugan-style bowler hat, because comics love uniforms that don’t make sense.

Dan Grote has been a Matt Signal contributor since 2014 and friends with Matt since there were four Supermen and two Psylockes. His two novels, My Evil Twin and I and Of Robots, God and Government, are available on Amazon.

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