2015: Marvel No More? In 2015 the Marvel Universe will end…but don’t worry, it will get better. During a recent press event, Marvel announced that Secret Wars (an 8 issue mini-series, the first of which hasn’t hit stands yet) will mark the conclusion of the Marvel Universe created back in 1961 and the Ultimate Universe. In its place will be…they haven’t stated but Internet speculation is already running rampant, including this very article. Reboot 54 years of history is a lot to catch up on and can be daunting for new readers. In 2000, Marvel introduced the Ultimate Universe to coincide with Sony’s Spider-Man and Fox’s X-Men film ventures. The comics created were streamlined, fun stories that delved into the mythos of the characters without years of baggage. These were a critical and commercial success. 15 years later, The Ultimate Universe is no longer creating good comics, is more convoluted than the MU proper and a dumping ground for wacky storylines. Marvel acknowledged they were planning Secret Wars for years, and it shows based off how far removed characters are from their normal representation: Steve Rogers is a 90-year-old man as the super soldier serum stopped working Gwen Stacey from a parallel universe is running around with spider powers The original X-Men are trapped in time Thor no longer wields Mjölnir Wolverine is dead And a slew of other plotlines that sound like an elseworld story (or fan-fiction) Hitting F5 on the entire universe provides Marvel with a unique opportunity to tell never-before done, shock-value stories without having to worry about how they are going to write their way out of the situation. The characters from the Marvel Universe aren’t the most recognizable archetypes of these heroes. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to grow and surpass expectations, Marvel continues to struggle with a way to transition moviegoers into comic readers. Creating a fresh universe with all number ones on the stand could be less daunting than the current offering. MCU I have no doubt that every character with an on-screen counterpart will be recreated in their real-world image for the monthly books. Marvel went out of their way to change the ethnicity Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe, and it was a cumbersome transition; moving forward this will just be the status quo. Hawkeye and Widow will be Agents of SHIELD without the criminal past, and Thor will be an ancient alien. The big screen interpretations of characters have become the most popular and what fans can look forward to in the future. This is a good decision on Marvel’s part. This will allow casual fans (if any truly exist for comics) to feel like they already know this universe. Hardcore fans are used to soft reboots or character adjustments as new writers take over and will take these changes in stride. Instead of being four different interpretations of Iron Man, Marvel can lay the groundwork for a unified image for the character across all media. The New 52 In August 2011, DC Comics accomplished something they haven’t for years: took the number one market share spot from Marvel. DC continued to do so for over a year and is still a contender each month. Marvel took notice. The House of Ideas paid attention to the fan reception and wanted to secure a sales bump themselves. Of course, today the New 52 suffers from confusing continuity and zanier storylines than ever before; so much so that DC might bring back the Old DCU to the forefront in this summer’s Convergence series (Yup…Superman will have his underoos back). The New 52 cherry-picked continuity for characters: Green Lantern saw no change, Batman still had all four Robins, but Superman was more alien than ever and Flash was practically a new character, only the name remained. Marvel will likely pursue a similar approach for their creations. Storylines that are just starting to pick up momentum, like Guardians of the Galaxy will remain as they are today but sections of the universe which are far from their normal mark, like the X-Men, will be brought back to normality. Once the dust settles, I believe Xavier and Wolverine will be alive, and there will only be one X-Men team with a smaller, more manageable roster. The Fantastic Four will reboot from a middle-aged family of adventurers to a younger, sleeker (more diverse?) model like their movie counterparts. Reset or Adjustment This will be the first line-wide refresh Marvel has attempted. DC Comics set the reboot trend with Crisis of Infinite Earths, again with Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis and most recently Flashpoint. Some of these were slight tweaks which adjusted characters for no apparent reason, others were necessary overhauls. If Marvel is to succeed with this refresh, the comics coming out of them must be new storytelling, familiar and show a reason for the change—a reason stronger than being “all-new” and “all-different.” They’ve already succeeded in capturing the mindshare on the Internet; they’ve even pulled me out of comic book retirement. Fans are fickle, as DC is discovering, and Marvel will need to create an expansive universe with a reason to draw readers in month after month. It’s unknown if this storyline is an adrenaline shot into the universe, a necessary re-imagining or just another hyperbole “that will break the Internet in half.” Cheap gimmicks create an artificial sales bump; true believers can tell the difference before they’ll blindly continue the hashtag campaign #MakeMineMarvel. Level Up, Friends!