As part of my comic appreciation series this year we’ll be taking a look back at last year’s two major comic crossover events; DC Comics Convergence and Marvel Comics Secret Wars. Marvel and DC always run competing crossovers but 2015 was particularly special due to how similar both ideas seemed on paper, in reality they turned out pretty different. So who did it best?
DC’s Convergence was a two month event, with the main series releasing an issue once a week between April 2015 and May 2015. The basic premise to the event was fairly simple; Brainiac (One of Superman’s best villains) managed to get in contact with other versions of himself across the space-time continuum. As a result he began collecting cities from all of the different realities before throwing all of these cities on the planet Telos and telling the inhabitants to fight for their city. Of course the inhabitants just happened to be various versions of classic DC heroes from the past including 60’s Batman, 90’s Superboy and 40’s Shazam! The main series which focused on the heroes of the current Earth 2 series, showcased The Wonders of The World (Earth 2’s Justice League) trying to control the various time displaced characters and stop Brainiac’s plan. Also along for the ride was Superman who had just recently beaten the fuck out of Brainiac for trying to turn him into Doomsday.
Convergence was a decent story, it concluded the two year story arc of the Earth 2 comic series, it allowed Superman to get a measure of revenge on Brainiac after the Superman: Doomed story arc and it let fans of previous DC comics see the versions of characters they grew up with, something that was particularly important to DC’s future marketing decisions. In terms of overall impact Convergence was somewhat of a double-edged sword; in the fictional universe of DC comics the event had almost no impact, with the exception of Earth 2 which would be rebranded as Earth 2: Society after the conclusion of Convergence. With that said in the real world the event had a massive impact; fan support for the return of previous versions of classic characters was so strong that DC announced their 2016 event DC: Rebirth, which would see some classic characters return in full time roles, including the classic Superman and Wally West as Kid Flash.
Final Score: 7.5/10
Fictional Impact: 5/10
Real-world Impact: 10/10
The original Secret Wars, released in 1985 featured a cosmic being known as the Beyonder putting a bunch of Marvel’s heroes and villains on an alien planet called Battleworld and having them fight to determine who was the greatest. If that sounds like DC’s Convergence to you, you’d be correct. Not to be outdone though, in 1985 DC released an event called Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was a story about all the alternate universes in DC history being destroyed and as a result all of the survivors being mashed into one universe…Guess what Secret Wars is about?
So yeah, Secret Wars (2015) sees the Beyonder’s destroying every alternate Marvel Universe. Only the main universe; Earth-616 and the most popular alternate universe Earth-1610 AKA Ultimate Marvel are left and the two universes end up colliding with one another and creating a new planet; Battleworld! Except this time instead of the Beyonder’s, Doctor Doom is in control. Having remade himself into God and ruling over Battleworld, Doctor Doom is finally happy. Except that his best buddy in the world Reed Richards managed to avoid the universe being remade in Doom’s image and shows up to remind poor old Victor that nobody likes him. Secret Wars, much like its rival Convergence, sees the reappearance of a number of classic Marvel incarnations, including Marvel Zombies! A universe where every character is a superhero and a zombie. The primary plot deals with the few heroes who avoided having their memories wiped trying to stop Doctor Doom, who is struggling to control his created world. The general story is pretty great, with Doctor Doom ruling a feudal society where characters like Mr Sinister and Captain Britain are lords of various realms and constantly at odds with one another. Doctor Strange plays Doom’s sheriff in charge of maintaining the peace, while a wild band of Hulk’s hang out in a desert realm and zombies plague the wasteland between the realms.
While the story on its own is an exciting read, the external repercussions of the series is what makes the event so successful; much like the 1985 DC event it draws inspiration from, Secret Wars serves to completely change the Marvel universe. The Ultimate Marvel universe ends at Secret Wars and popular characters like Miles Morales (The half black/half latino Spider-Man) and Maker (Ultimate Reed Richards) are brought into the mainstream universe. The core Marvel universe remains and gets a new lease on a number of stories and ideas.
Secret Wars was a brilliantly planned event that shook up the Marvel universe and garnered renewed interest in Marvel’s primary comic book output. Sadly the one downside to the event was its staggered release schedule, originally announced as nine issue series, running from #0-#8, a ninth issue was added midway through the series, the publication ran for nine months and included 48 separate tie-in titles, many of which ran for five or more issues, in total count the full event comes in at several thousand pages. Granted some of this was necessary, the event was a mass reshaping of the entire universe but the nine month run time and literal hundreds of issues made it a chore to collect and read for the full story. That said the tie-ins are fairly unnecessary issues #0-#9 function perfectly on their own.
Final Score: 7.8/10
Fictional Impact: 8/10
Real-world Impact: 8/10
Both Convergence and Secret Wars are excellent books worth reading, despite Convergence being intended as a short event with little long-term consequences the unexpected popularity of the older DC characters led to a massive change in DC’s direction and the launching of this years Rebirth event. Secret Wars faced heavy delays which brought down its score somewhat, the intended result of a remade universe was successful and the All New, All Different Marvel publication that followed has renewed many fans interest in the Marvel universe. As a result Secret Wars beats out Convergence by a slight margin due to Convergence having very little impact inside the DC Universe, while having an entirely unintended major impact in terms of future publishing. My advice: Read both of them!