Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson wraps up his 4-part look back on Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars by taking a look at its extensive Epilogue and the influence this seminal event had on the Marvel Universe in the years that followed its conclusion.
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: A Retrospective: Part 4 of 4
The Aftermath – The effects of Secret Wars were felt far and wide, and many of these influences are still relevant to this very day.
Spider-Man – Spider-Man returned from Battleworld sporting a new black and white costume. It would not be long before Spidey would learn that his new costume was alive! In Web of Spider-Man #1, he was able to separate himself from this symbiote and thought it destroyed. However, the symbiote would go on to merge with Eddie Brock, someone else who had cause to hate Spider-Man, and together they would become Venom, one of Spidey’s most enduring foes. Over the years Venom has gone from villain to Lethal Protector to an essential cog in the current King in Black storyline running in 2021. Also, less we forget, from Venom spawned Carnage, one of the most dangerous and feared monsters in the Marvel Universe.
Currently, Symbiote Spider-Man is a fantastic retro series that tells tales that take place during the time when Spidey still wore the symbiote black and white.
The Fantastic Four – Ben Grimm discovered that on Battleworld he was able to transform back and forth from flesh and bone to his rocky form at will. Wanting to explore this phenomenon, he stayed behind. His adventures on Battleworld were documented in Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger. The ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing’s absence had a big impact on the team. First, She-Hulk took his place as the FF’s muscle. This made She-Hulk the very first hero to serve in the ranks of both Marvel’s First Family and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This shakeup in the team’s roster would last almost 3 years (Fantastic Four #265-300).
To complicate matters even more, while Ben was away, the Human Torch began a romantic relationship with Ben’s girlfriend Alicia Masters! As you can imagine, when Ben returned home in Fantastic Four #276-277, this did not sit well with the Idol of Millions. This caused a rift between friends and the Thing left the team. Again. To make matters even more complicated, Johnny actually marries Alicia Masters in Fantastic Four #300. As if that wasn’t Days of Our Lives enough, it is eventually revealed, in Fantastic Four #357-358, that the Alicia Masters Johnny married was actually a Skrull spy named Lyja?! Yeah, Secret Wars had a profound effect on the lives of Marvel’s First Family. More to come in a moment.
Hulk – The aftermath of Secret Wars sent the Green Goliath off on one of his most epic storylines ever. Upon his return to Earth in Incredible Hulk #295, Banner’s waning control over the Jade Giant was at an all-time low. This left him open to the manipulations of the dream demon Nightmare. In Incredible Hulk #300, completely devoid of Bruce Banner’s influence, the mighty Hulk rampaged out of control and nobody, not even the Avengers, could stop him. In the end, Doctor Strange was forced to banish the Hulk to the mystical Crossroads, a realm with countless pathways that lead to countless worlds, but none of them lead back home. More on this in a moment.
The Avengers – Upon returning from the Secret Wars in Avengers #243, the core group learns that the android Vision has taken command of the team. This is significant because it led to two major changes that changed the course of Avengers History. First, the Vision decides to increase Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ coverage and creates the West Coast Avengers branch of the team. Second, after an injury in Avengers #233, Vision’s android mind is compromised and he begins scheming to take over the world, as detailed in Absolute Vision.
The X-Men – When on Battleworld, the X-Men’s little dragon, Lockheed, made a friend. When they teleported back to Earth, Lockheed’s dragon buddy decided to tag along. Upon Marvel’s Merry Mutant’s return to Earth in Uncanny X-Men #181, Lockheed’s little friend suddenly became a huge problem and a danger to the people of Japan. It is during this chaos that Wolverine saves the life of a child named Amiko, whose mother had perished after a building collapsed. Logan adopts Amiko as his own daughter.
One of the most profound fallouts to come out of Secret Wars was the dissolve of the romantic relationship between Colossus and Kitty Pryde. While on Battleworld, Colossus had fallen in love with the mystic healer Zsaji who perished saving his life. In Uncanny X-Men #183, Piotr tells Kitty about the affair and breaks her heart. This is something that does not sit well with Wolverine who allows the Juggernaut to teach the young man a lesson.
The Villains – Ulltron 11 would return in West Coast Avengers #7 where he would meet his end at the mighty hands of Wonder Man. This is easily one of the most unique Ultron stories, and one of the Odinson’s personal favorites. Molecule Man had established himself as a major power in the Marvel Universe and goes on to play an important role in both Secret Wars II and 2015’s Secret Wars campaign.
1984’s Secret Wars introduced several new characters to the Marvel cannon including the villains Volcana and Titania. Volcana would begin a romantic relationship with the Molecule Man, while Titania would begin a criminal partnership and romantic relationship with the Absorbing Man. Crusher Creel and Skeeter MacPherran have been one of the most enduring power couples in all of comics. Nearly 40 years later and they are still in love and still together. They are even supporting cast members in the current Immortal Hulk series.
Titania had an interesting character arc following Secret Wars. After Spider-Man soundly defeated her in Secret Wars #8, her confidence was shattered and she would even become paralyzed with fear upon the mere mention of Spidey’s name. These issues were worked out in Amazing Spider-Man #283. Titania’s self-esteem issues have also led her to have an intense rivalry over the years with She-Hulk, with whom she first traded blows with in the pages of Secret Wars #7.
Secret Wars II – The Beyonder would return in a sequel that was even bigger than the original. DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths was the first companywide event, but Secret Wars II was the second crossover event in history that featured tie-ins with nearly every title Marvel was publishing at the time. Wanting to understand the human condition, the Beyonder takes a mortal form, based on the body of Steve Rogers, and proceeds to interact with every corner of the Marvel Universe, both cosmic and Terran, with sometimes thought-provoking, humorous, and even scary consequences.
A couple of tie-ins that carry over directly from the first Secret Wars into the second are the stories of Thing and Hulk. Ben Grimm blames the Beyonder for all his recent woes and actually sets out to kill him in Thing #30. In the end, Ben actually gives his all to save the Beyonder in Secret Wars II #7, even taking on all the Marvel villains to do it. Hulk’s Regression after the original Secret Wars led him to the Crossroads where he might have spent eternity lost if the Beyonder had not stepped in and intervened on his behalf in Incredible Hulk #312-313.
In the end, the Beyonder, whose power is beyond imagining, proves to be too dangerous to allow to roam free and he seemingly perishes in a final epic battle against the Marvel Heroes and Molecule Man. In Avengers #266, we learn that the Beyonder’s death throws have damaged the world and threaten to destroy the planet. It takes the combined cosmic power of the Molecule Man and the Silver Surfer to set things right.
Secret Wars III – The ultimate fate of the One from Beyond would be decided a few years later, but not before Doctor Doom took one last shot at the title.
Miscellaneous – Here are some more instances where the events of Secret Wars affected the Marvel Universe. In Code of Honor #3, set during the events of the original Secret Wars, we see how law enforcement back on Earth tries to deal with super criminals in the absence of so many major super heroes. In Quasar #8, a refugee from Battleworld makes trouble at Project Pegasus. In Marvels: Eye of the Camera #4, we witness the harrowing events of Avengers #266 through the point of view of everyman Phil Sheldon. In Deadpool Team-Up #1, we learn in a flashback, set during the events of Secret Wars II, that Kingpin actually hired the Merc with a Mouth to take out the Beyonder. And in the Samaritan storyline, Thanos crosses paths, and swords, with the One from Beyond! The results of this confrontation left a major piece like the Beyonder off the game board during the events of Annihilation.
Trivia: Did you know that Spider-Man’s black costume was designed by a fan named Randy Schueller when he entered his idea into a contest Marvel ran in 1982?
The original Secret Wars is a perfect example of creators being at the top of their game. Mike Zeck’s pencils are energized and inspiring. All throughout the 1980s he would bring this same power and passion to Captain America and Punisher, providing some of the most eye-catching images those characters have ever been in. And he would go on to visually bring to life one of the most character-defining storylines in Marvel History with Kraven’s Last Hunt. Bob Layton brought his A game to the two issues he did and with Secret Wars #4 he provided fans one of the most iconic covers in Marvel History. Writer Jim Shooter did a magnificent job juggling an enormous cast of characters giving each and every one of them moments to shine. I never felt like any cast member was neglected or exploited. In fact, these are the personalities the Odinson associates with all these characters to this very day. Shooter must have had blast writing this one.
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars came out in 1984 at time when comic books were more magical than ever for the Odinson. It had an impact, on me, on the industry, and on the continuity of the Marvel Universe. It is fun, exciting, stunning, influential, superbly executed, and, above all else, entertaining. And it comes with the Odinson’s highest recommendation.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE. Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE.