Secret Wars: A Look Back at the Tie-Ins

Secret Wars led to a few months of interesting and creative minis and one-shots from various creative teams. What were the best? The worst?

Secret Wars, Marvel’s big 2015 summer crossover that turned into Marvel’s big 2015 all-year crossover, drew close over half a year ago. With the final issue of the main series out, we’ve also seen the last tie in miniseries—the books that replaced almost every comic Marvel was publishing when Secret Wars began—finally hit shelves.

For those of us late to the party, 50 different miniseries and one shots came out telling the stories of every corner of Battleworld. With so many books, it’s hard to tell which ones were worth reading and which ones were crap. Lucky for you, I’m here. I’ve read all of them, and I’m going to tell you which ones you should read, which ones you should buy the collection of, and which ones are so bad they tarnish the reputations of legendary creators.

Here it is, our definitive, authoritative ranking of all the Secret Wars minis…

1. Infinity Gauntlet

by Dustin Weaver and Gerry Duggan

This might be the best work of Dustin Weaver’s career. Prior to this tie in, set in a part of Battleworld where the Annihilation Wave ravaged Earth, Weaver had done some outstanding art for with Jonathan Hickman on Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. (da Vinci and Nathaniel Richards S.H.I.E.L.D., not the TV one), but this blew it out of the water.

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Co-plotted with Gerry Duggan, this series follows a young girl, Anwen, as she and her family all get Nova Corps powers and fight Thanos to prevent him from getting all the gems for the Infinity Gauntlet. It’s emotional and thrilling and just stunning to look at. And also there is a dog named Nova.

11/10, impossible to recommend more highly.

Buy Infinity Gauntlet on Amazon

2. Weirdworld

by Jason Aaron and Michael del Mundo

Mike del Mundo is incredible. It’s cool that there was a comic about Arkon and Crystar and Weirdworld and it’s 2015 and all, but Jesus, dude, del Mundo is something else. Usually someone like him, artists who do beautiful painted art and weird panel layouts, can get lost up their own ass being nontraditional for different’s sake.

But that’s not even remotely the case in most of his work, and especially with Weirdworld. He manages to tell an incredibly clear story and still put some of the most exciting, innovative, bizarre stuff on the page. Jason Aaron did a good job writing it, but… my god, it was like a Frazetta painting, only without boobs and for like, 100 pages.

Buy Weirdworld on Amazon

3. Civil War

by Charles Soule and Leinil Yu

There were two main types of What If? stories that came out during Secret Wars: Event What Ifs (what if Inferno had never ended?) and setting What Ifs (what if the Avengers were founded in the old west?). Civil War was the best of any of them, and maybe my second favorite book from Charles Soule’s Marvel work.

In this book, Civil War never really ended, it just cooled to angry sniping instead of open superhero fighting. Soule wrote a completely logical, intelligent story that had some added heft because of the Cap/Iron Man fight that ended the 616. And Leinil Yu made it look so pretty.

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This series was better than the event it was based on, and it did a great job weaving in subsequent Marvel events to make it even more entertaining.

Buy Civil War on Amazon

4. Inferno

by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Garron

As a general rule, I really enjoy comics where the creative team obviously has fun making them, and Inferno fit this bill perfectly. Dennis Hopeless made Colossus and Domino a thing in Cable and X-Force, and he pays off the emotions of that story so well here. I cannot believe how much sense the two of them make together, and I love how non-dysfunctional Hopeless made them as a couple, even in a world where Pete’s sister gave into the Darkchylde and presumably killed the hell out of a major metropolitan area.

Speaking of, when Javier Garron gets going on the demons, it’s hard not to laugh maniacally at how absurd they are. And HOW AWESOME is demon first grader Cable?

Buy Inferno on Amazon

5. Ghost Racers

by Felipe Smith and Juan Gedeon

Ghost Racers would have been lower—top half, for sure, but not this high—but for the last issue. Felipe Smith and Juan Gedeon to that point told a good but plain story about the gladiator arena at Doomstadt (God Emperor Doom’s palace) where Ghost Riders fought every night. It had all the traditional Riders—Johnny Blaze, Alejandra Jones, Danny Ketch, and Carter Slade (the western Ghost Rider who rode a flaming horse).

Then in the last issue, when Robbie Reyes is being chased by Zadkiel’s army for disobeying the rules of the arena, he gets chased by a ghost rider T-rex riding a ghost rider f-16 and a ghost rider ape riding a ghost rider train. These things are awesome enough, then Rob and Don from Dark Knight Returns show up, only one’s a bear and one’s a Frankenstein.

This comic was amazing.  

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Buy Ghost Racers on Amazon

6. Captain Britain & The Mighty Defenders

by Al Ewing and Alan Davis

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the fascist dictator on the Judge Dredd world quoting David Cameron over a prison camp loudspeaker. That’s not why this is so high, though. Al Ewing is such a good writer that his last issue of Captain America & the Mighty Avengers actually made me tear up a little.

It’s completely unsurprising that, paired with a legend like Alan Davis, Ewing can jam a ton of emotion and heart into a story that seems specifically designed to break the Battleworld concept: Having someone who recognizes that there’s something off about Battleworld was enough to ruin a handful of these comics, but Ewing handles it deftly and even makes it part of the point of his story.

Buy Captain Britain & The Mighty Defenders on Amazon

7. TIE: Runaways AND Secret Wars: Secret Love

by Noelle Stevenson, Sanford Green, Jeremy Whitley, et al

Runaways and Secret Wars: Secret Love are tied because they’re collected together. Not that either one wasn’t this good—Runaways only moved up one spot when I saw the collection, because it is seriously that good. It lives up to its namesake series in every way. Noelle Stevenson (Nimona and Lumberjanes, books everyone should love) and Sanford Green (who is going to be a superstar after this spring’s Power Man and Iron Fist) have made pretty much the perfect teen book: A boarding school in Doomstadt for Battleworld’s best and brightest has a misfit class, and this book follows them as they try and find out the awful secret their school holds. It’s so much fun.

Meanwhile Secret Love was one of the handful of anthologies that came out, and had really strong stories from Jeremy Whitley (of Princeless fame) about Misty Knight and Iron Fist’s date night after having kids that’s incredibly sweet; and one where Squirrel Girl names Thor’s abs that’s pretty self-explanatory. This collection is actually a steal, and probably a really good first comic for a huge swath of people.

Buy Runaways on Amazon

Buy Secret Wars: Secret Love on Amazon

9. Thors

by Jason Aaron and Chris Sprouse

Believe it or not, Jason Aaron and Chris Sprouse used Secret Wars to make one of the best cop comics I’ve read in years. Like since Top 10.

The Thors are Doom’s Battleworld police officers, and Ultimate Thor and Beta Ray Bill catch a murder that they’re not sure they can solve. The investigation leads to dirty cops, a broken system, every trite cop procedural cliche in the book, but these creators are good enough where they weave them into the larger Secret Wars narrative to make them all feel fresh and be smart takes on old characters.

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I have a deep, passionate hatred of police procedurals. Even the blandest, most inoffensive, CBSiest of them makes me shake with rage at how many of them are on and how they’re all exactly the same. But Thors actually made them fun.

Buy Thors on Amazon

10. Siege

by Kieron Killen, Filipe Andrade, James Stokoe, Jorge Coelho

As far as sendoffs to the Marvel Universe go, Kieron Gillen could have done worse (he also could have done better, hello Hail Hydra and the burning bridge you just came over on!). Siege hews close enough to the events of the main series that I might be able to imagine a world where it’s included in its collection: It is at the surface the story of Abigail Brand, the commander of the Shield, the wall that keeps the Annihilation Wave, a horde of zombies, and a country full of Ultrons, out of the “civilized” world.

But the entire last issue is basically the conversation between Thanos and Ben Grimm (spoilers, he’s the wall) that leads to Grimm standing up and going to punch out Galactus at Doomstadt in Secret Wars #8. Either way, Gillen writes a massively entertaining Brand, and an almost-as-good Kang. And da Vinci’s Enlightenment Cannon is the best weapon in comics since Spider Jerusalem’s bowel disruptor, just not quite as juvenile.

Buy Siege on Amazon

11. Marvel Zombies

by Simon Spurrier and Kev Walker

Simon Spurrier’s Elsa Bloodstone is a Shield section commander who gets trapped outside the wall and goes on the run from a horde of zombies looking for fresh meat. Like everything Spurrier writes, this series was witty and wry, but surprisingly heartfelt and could have been a story about any Elsa Bloodstone from any Earth—it cut straight to the core of who she was and why she was the way she was.

The best thing about events like Secret Wars is it gives good creators a chance to explore themes as much as characters, and Spurrier’s Marvel Zombies was at its best when it was looking at childhood and parental relationships and expectations. Even though all the zombies getting shot in the head was pretty not bad.

Buy Marvel Zombies on Amazon

12. M.O.D.O.K. Assassin

by Chris Yost and Amilcar Pinna

One of the things I love most in this world is when gratuitous violence is played for slapstick. It’s why I started an advocacy group to keep Looney Tunes in our schools. And as part of our proposed curriculum, I think M.O.D.O.K. Assassin should be taught, because it was too damn funny.

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M.O.D.O.K., one of the best killers in a world dominated by murderers and villains, has someone trying to frame him for the murder of a Thor, but the killing goes wrong: The one they try and murder is Angela, and M.O.D.O.K. falls in love with her. Amilcar Pinna nailed the physical comedy, Chris Yost made the narration hilarious, and Travis Lanham’s emoji-scattered lettering was maybe the best part of a hilarious book.

There was a lot of good comedy in the Secret Wars tie-ins, but this was the best of the bunch.

Buy M.O.D.O.K. Assassin on Amazon

13. 1872

by Gerry Duggan and Nik Virella

Gerry Duggan’s “What if the Avengers were created in the Old West” story was exceptionally clever. The cowboy versions of the various Marvel heroes would have been solid, if slight (except for dandy Maverick-the-movie Bullseye, who manages to simultaneously capture one of the best late-period Mel Gibson roles AND probably be infuriating to the salty old bigot).

But the way Duggan loops the 616 Avengers mythos around the Western theme and setting was really well done and made the series a lot more memorable. Holy crap, did I just inadvertently nail a lasso metaphor-pun?

Buy 1872 on Amazon

14. Hail Hydra

by Rick Remender and Roland Boschi

I… holy shit. I’m reasonably sure this was a middle finger to corporate comics.

Hail Hydra’s last issue was pretty delayed, and I assumed it was the case because Ian (Nomad, the Zolaverse son of Captain America who’s been a key supporting character throughout Rick Remender’s Captain America run) had some role to play in the conclusion of the story, but having read the issue… holy crap. Ian spends half the issue arguing that Cap’s mission is pointless and there’s no reason for him to keep fighting when everything reverts back to hate and Hydra anyway, and then he jumps through the infinite elevator and the last panel is green letters on a black background, saying “FUTILITY.”

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I can’t believe this was published.

It would have been higher, but the first three issues, telling the story of 616 Ian landing in a part of Battleworld where Hydra won World War 2, were a little boring.

Buy Hail Hydra on Amazon

15. Inhumans: Attilan Rising

by Charles Soule and John Timms

This is one of the few stories that felt like Secret Wars was essential to its existence—Thors only brushed up against the main story, while Siege feels a little like the inverse (Secret Wars needed Siege, to an extent). But we wouldn’t have been able to see Attilan Rising’s examinations of Black Bolt and Medusa without these specific circumstances. And it’s all the better for it.

Charles Soule does a good job telling the story of an insurrection against Doom led by Black Bolt, sprinkling in 616 characters in skewed roles—Kamala Khan as a shapeshifting spy was an awesome moment. And John Timms makes it fun to read. Bonus points for the dark as hell ending, too.

Buy Inhumans: Attilan Rising on Amazon

16. X-Tinction Agenda

by Marc Guggenheim and Carmine di Giandomenco

Look. I know this X-Tinction Agenda is not objectively good. It’s a comic that packs all the terrible ideas that drove people off the X-Men in the ‘90s into four issues: There are impenetrably complicated relationships; a mutant killing virus; time travel.

But you know what? I really enjoyed this series.

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Marc Guggenheim has his pet characters, and all of them are from the New X-Men school era (Graymalkin, Rockslide, Surge, etc.), so seeing them interact with different configurations of the X-Men in a vastly different world was really interesting.

Carmine di Giandomenico’s art is sleek and energetic and the colors are great and I love this unconditionally and wish there was an X-Men book this convoluted and throwback and wonderful on stands right now.

Buy X-Tinction Agenda on Amazon

17. E Is For Extinction

by Chris Burnham and Ramon Villalobos

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Chris Burnham and Ramon Villalobos’s riff on Grant Morrison’s X-Men was entertaining and bizarre in a way that Morrison only hinted at. To even begin to try and explain would cause time to fold back in on itself, but this takes everything weird about the new Xavier institute and mainstreams it, and takes everything normal (like Scott and Logan and Emma) and makes them odd caricatures of themselves, and that’s just the first issue.

If you were a fan of Morrison’s old work, you will certainly enjoy this.

Buy E Is For Extinction on Amazon

18. A-Force

by Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson, and Jorge Molina

The best thing about A-Force was how classic it was. This felt like an old-school Avengers adventure starring all the best women heroes from around the Marvel Universe. Jorge Molina draws fights with giant sharks really well, and Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson did a terrific job of giving everyone in the huge cast a distinct and unique voice.

Also I know I blew past this, but there is an excellent amount of shark punching in it. I could have used a bit more shark punching, but that’s a fairly standard complaint for all comics.

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Buy A-Force on Amazon

19. Squadron Sinister

by Marc Guggenheim and Carlos Pacheco

Carlos Pacheco had the time of his life drawing this. One of the fun things about these miniseries is how many of them acted as backdoor pilots for ongoings in the new Marvel Universe, and while the new Squadron Supreme is a collection of mostly good guy Justice League analogues, this series followed a group of Crime Syndicate analogues as intrigue, pettiness, and all around wonderfully banal evil ripped them to shreds.

I really enjoyed the Dark Knight Returns panel in the last issue, but the whole series was fun.

Buy Squadron Sinister on Amazon

20. X-Men ‘92

by Chris Sims and Scott Koblish

I was genuinely surprised at how good X-Men ‘92 was. It had moments that were incredibly funny, and Scott Koblish’s artistic chameleon job, not just matching the style of the show but then applying its sensibilities to the various non-show ‘90s X-teams’ designs was great to read.

If you’re at all familiar with Chris Sims’ internet output, you know exactly what you’re getting here. It’s done well and genuinely entertaining to fans of the cartoon.

Buy X-Men ’92 on Amazon

21. Giant Size Little Marvel AVX

by Skottie Young

Skottie Young is great. He’s got a great sense of humor and he’s an excellent cartoonist.

But by the time the end of this comic rolled around, it felt a little like someone was throwing trading cards at me—there wasn’t really a story or a point, just an excuse for Young to draw kiddie versions of popular characters. Which was cool enough that this is an above average book, but I’m way more excited about I Hate Fairyland than I am about rereading this.

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Buy Giant Size Little Marvel AVX on Amazon

22. Spider-Island

By Tom DeFalco, Christos Gage, Paco Diaz, and Ron Frenz

What a pleasant surprise! Honestly, I know that sentence is usually sarcasm, but I really mean it.

I didn’t expect a continuation of the most terrifying event in recent Marvel memory (bedbugs spread a potentially incurable disease through New York City, and if that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you’ve probably never lived in a large city before) to be emotionally resonant and fun. Flash Thompson-Venom is one of the only people still fighting the Spider Queen when the series starts, and he finds out that various serums and mystical artifacts impede the Queen’s mental control. So then Flash leads a team of Monster Avengers—vampire Captain Marvel, Cap Wolf, Iron Man with the Goblin serum, a Lizard Mary Jane, regular Vision—to free Peter and destroy the Queen. Flash gets a nice death scene, and Stegron is prominently involved.

I’ll be totally honest, if a Stegron revival is one of the big developments from 2015, I will count this year as a success.

Buy Spider-Island on Amazon

23. 1602 Witch Hunter Angela

by Margueritte Bennett and Stephanie Hans

Marguerite Bennett and Stephanie Hans had a bunch of fun in the 1602 universe. This series told the story of Angela, a witch hunter in the service of Doom’s church, and her true love Serah, and their cursed quest to hunt down mutants… uh I mean witches… on behalf of the church. It’s a fun story that ties in very nicely with the larger one Bennett is telling about Angela outside of the crossover, and it gets a bunch bonus points for the olde English recap pages.

If I had to briefly describe the book, watch this video of the Dowager Countess’s best burns from Downton Abbey, and then imagine all of them directed at Avengers.

Buy 1602 Witch Hunter Angela on Amazon

24. Secret Wars Too

by Jonathan Hickman, Kyle Starks, Ryan Browne, et al

It was hard for some of the comedy one-offs to distinguish themselves, even though they were all pretty great, but Secret Wars Too stands out as the ballsiest, if not best.

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I really love that Sexcastle’s Kyle Starks got to contribute to the event (and God Hates Astronauts’ Ryan Browne drawing Beardevil), but the fact that Jonathan Hickman wrote and Marvel published a story about Hickman freaking out about not having an ending for Secret Wars proper is hilarious. As was everything Doom said to him.  

Buy Secret Wars Too on Amazon

25. Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos

by Gerry Duggan and Salvador Espin

Gerry Duggan continues his ongoing Deadpool story here, with Deadpool’s wife leading the Howling Commandos (the Universal Movie Monster Universe, but Marvel’s versions of all of them) as one of those backdoor pilots for a new ongoing.

The last couple of years of Deadpool haven’t clicked for me, but this was entertaining enough where I’m going to feel comfortable going back to check out older issues.

Buy Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos on Amazon

26. TIE: Howard the Human, Secret Wars: Agents of Atlas, and Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra

by Tom Taylor, Steve Pugh, Skottie Young, Jim Mahfood, David Mandel, Michael Walsh, et al

Howard the Human, Agents of Atlas, and Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra were all really funny. Skottie Young and Jim Mahfood had a blast spoofing noir movies with Howard.

Hank Johnson takes the “henchman leads a regular life except for where he works” bit and uses it to make fun of Hydra, and the result was great. And Agents of Atlas is here entirely on the strength of one joke: ordered to get refreshments for Director Coulson and Gorilla Man, a faceless SHIELD agent comes back in with bananas. Yes.

Buy Howard the Human on Amazon

Buy Secret Wars: Agents of Atlas on Amazon

Buy Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra on Amazon

29. TIE: Secret Wars: Battleworld; and Secret Wars Journal

by Josh Williamson, Ed Brisson, Mike Henderson, Scott Hepburn, Michael Rosenberg, Prudence Shen, Ramon Bachs, Luca Pizzari  

I mentioned before that the anthologies were also really good. Secret Love got bumped up because whoever edited the collected edition is a genius, but really, Battleworld and Journal are equally as good. 

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Battleworld lets creators like Ivan Brandon or Ryan Ferrier or Paul Pope or James Stokoe just run wild with the Marvel multiverse, which is exactly what you want out of a crossover anthology tie in.

Journal has a Simon Spurrier story that’s excellent, and it has a robotic Millie the Model trying to proselytize on behalf of Doom, and every time she fails she’s threatened with being melted into cups. “Silence, future goblets” was gold.

Buy Secret Wars: Battleworld on Amazon

Buy Secret Wars Journal on Amazon

31. Korvac Saga

by Dan Abnett and Otto Schmidt

Korvac was an interesting book. In my initial notes, I put “wow, almost exact median quality miniseries,” and even though the various tie ins and Hail Hydra coming up huge at the end pushed this a little below median mathematically, I feel like it’s exactly what you’d expect from a series launched to tie in with an alternate reality crossover. It was interesting and well-told, but largely insubstantial.

Michael Korvac, the universal consciousness from way back in the day with the Avengers, rules his own domain, and has the future Guardians of the Galaxy as his royal guard. Some kind of disease infects his land where people start remembering that there was a world before Battleworld, and the Guardians have to fight them off. And I think at the end the Guardians snuck off to join the final battle against Doom, and from there will be transported into their new ongoing, Guardians of Infinity.  

Buy Korvac Saga on Amazon

32. House of M

by Dennis Hopeless, Cullen Bunn, and Marco Failla

Supervillain Magneto gnawing on scenery is always a blast, so Hopeless and Cullen Bunn continuing the story of the world where Magneto’s family ruled over the humans was an entertaining bit of fluff.

House of M Quicksilver is maybe the smarmiest character in any Marvel comic since Fabian Cortez, and Namor is at his Namoriest since Kieron Gillen left Uncanny X-Men. Seriously, it’s worth reading this just to see how over the top he is, and how not-seriously anybody making the book took it. Quite fun.

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Buy House of M on Amazon

33. Planet Hulk

by Sam Humphries and Marc Laming

Devil Dinosaur is magnificent. I don’t think I could ever really dislike a comic that has Devil Dinosaur fighting to reunite Stucky. Gladiator Captain America gets sent to “Greenland,” the north pole of Battleworld dominated by Hulks, to destabilize the area and maybe find Bucky again.

That said, this whole series felt like it was a little padded out and repetitive. And I think it was a little proud of how clever it thought it was—there were a lot of winks to the audience in it that took me out of the story.

Buy Planet Hulk on Amazon

34. Future Imperfect

by Peter David and Greg Land

I’m not super invested in the original series this was based on—I read it recently, and it was good, but not the senses-shattering event people who read it as it came out seem to say it is. So a dark future ruled over by an evil smart Hulk didn’t trigger any nostalgia for me like it did some, but I still thought this was reasonably entertaining.

It was completely hamstrung, though, by Greg Land’s art. When he doesn’t have something to trace, he’s actually a good artist—he does really nice fight scenes and good monsters. But he defaults to that porn actress with an open mouth for sooooooo many panels that I have a tough time not noticing him when I read his stuff.

Buy Future Imperfect on Amazon

35. Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies

by James Robnson and Steve Pugh

Steve Pugh is a great artist on his own, but his talent as a mimic made this series better than it should have been. It takes place below the wall, and it follows a group of exiles from civilized Battleworld as they fight to stay alive in the middle of hordes of zombies and Ultrons. The exiled 1602 Punisher looks exactly like Steve Dillon drew him, and Vision and Jim Hammond look Ditkoesque.

The last issue is mostly filler, but before that this was a really good series.

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Buy Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies on Amazon

36. Spider-Verse

by Mike Costa and Andra Araujo

There was nothing memorable about this at all. I guess it was a setup for the new Web Warriors ongoing, with Spider-Ham and Spider-Gwen and Spider-India and Spider-Noir all solve mysteries together, but I have no idea what happened in this comic beyond that. Hang on.

Ok, I went back and skimmed, and even the costumes are so bland that I can’t remember them 10 minutes later. I think the Sinister Six all got jumpsuits in their color?

Buy Spider-Verse on Amazon

37. Years of Future Past

by Marguerite Bennett and Mike Norton

This series jumped us several years into the future of “Days of Future Past,” to a time when Kitty Pryde and Colossus’s children (uh, spoilers. But we’re on the 37th spoiler review in a row, so if you’re still here and you only just now got pissed… I guess I’m sorry?) are the last mutants born in that domain.

Mike Norton’s art was great, but the script was pretty on-the-nose: If the kids had been named “Hope” and “Nihilism,” it would have been a touch more subtle. And the ending tried to pull a “lady or the tiger,” and it just came across as silly. But still, this follows the grand tradition of incredibly dark, depressing alternate X-futures, so it’s not all bad.  

Buy Years of Future Past on Amazon

37. Master of Kung Fu

by W. Haden Blackmon and Dalbor Talajic

I am a sucker for kung fu books, and for four issues, this was pretty solid. Shang Chi is the disgraced son of one of the masters of a K’un L’un themed world, and he has to train a gang of Morlocks so he can fight in the tournament that would make him the head of that domain.

The problem here is W. Haden Blackmon, who has spent a lot of his career working with JH Williams, one of the most talented, innovative artists in comics, who makes panel layouts that would drive art teachers insane with rage, but that almost always work better than a traditional layout. Unfortunately, his artist on Master of Kung Fu is… not Williams. Dalbor Talajic is a competent artist, but it looks like he was asked to draw the fight through the 13 chambers as though he were Williams, and the series of two page spreads he does just don’t really make sense.

Buy Master of Kung Fu on Amazon

38. Deadpool’s Super Secret Wars

by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli

Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli tell a retcon story about how Deadpool was secretly lurking around the edges of the original Secret Wars. This was funnier than it had any right being, but it suffers from being loooooooooooooooooooong, relying way too much on nostalgic yearning for the first Secret Wars, and being entirely not-tied-into the main series.

I’m as big a fan of Magnum P.I. mustaches as the next guy, but sometimes they’re just superfluous.

Buy Deadpool’s Super Secret Wars on Amazon

39. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps

by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kelly Thompson, and David Lopez

Captain Marvel was… eh. It was fine. The art was nice, but the story had a couple of big problems.

First, it didn’t go anywhere. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but coupled with the fact that it seemed like it was trying to buck the crossover reins a little—the whole series was about Carol trying to find out where her powers came from by flying into “space” that didn’t exist, and the end is Carol flying towards the void, her face lighting up and then cutting away to nothing—it just seemed a little too aware that it didn’t matter, a bit like the story itself was throwing up its hands and saying “Whatever, it’s been cool, gang.”

Buy Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps on Amazon

40. Guardians of Knowhere

by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr

Another series that combined being kind of pointless with another flaw that made both more glaring. Guardians of Knowhere has a Gamora that remembers the 616 before Battleworld, and has (ostensibly—this will become painfully, infuriatingly confusing once we get to the second worst book) the 616 Star Lord trying to get to the main fight. Those are the only two things that happen that aren’t part of a recurring loop of pointlessness—the same fight gets fought twice, people talk about the same stuff a couple of times.

It was aggressive wheel-spinning, like the book saying “I’m wasting both our time AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW IT.”

Buy Guardians of Knowhere on Amazon

41. Where Monsters Dwell

by Garth Ennis and Russ Braun

What an odd comic this was. It was forgettably funny, but aside from the “Secret Wars” stamp on the cover, it was absolutely meaningless to the larger crossover. It didn’t make a ton of sense as part of Battleworld—The Phantom Eagle is a World War 1 fighter ace and a douche canoe, and he decides (to skip out on the native girl he knocked up and his destiny raising the child on poop island) that he’ll ferry a lovely woman… somewhere.

I don’t really remember, and I just finished this a couple of hours ago. Which isn’t a great sign.

It feels like Marvel threw a ton of money at Garth Ennis just so they could say “Look! We got Garth Ennis back for Secret Wars!” and then published a script he hadn’t gotten around to pitching to Avatar yet.

Buy Where Monsters Dwell on Amazon

42. Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows

by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert

This story, set in a world where Peter and Mary Jane never got Satan-divorced and where they never completely ignored the fact that they had a daughter, was a lot of fun. Dan Slott writes good Spidey, and Adam Kubert is a surprisingly good Spider-Man artist.

But around issue 4, I started thinking about how cool this family dynamic would be in an ongoing comic, and then it felt like rubbing salt in a freshly-opened “One More Day” wound.

Buy Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows on Amazon

44. Red Skull

by Joshua Williamson and Luca Pizzari

A gang of villains get Suicide Squadded by Crossbones into searching south of the wall for the Red Skull in maybe the most aggressively meaningless series of all. They hunt and die, and Magneto gets into a big fight with the Skull and a horde of zombies, and the Skull beats him and throws him to be eaten.

Then on the last page, Crossbones comes out of nowhere to shoot the Skull in the head. It’s like the creative team was taunting the audience for caring about what happened in this story.

Buy Red Skull on Amazon

45. Armor Wars

by James Robinson and Marcio Takara

The domain of Armor Wars had nothing to do with the classic story. Instead, there’s some disease which forces everyone to live in Iron Man armor and some stuff happens and Tony Stark twirls his mustache and War Machine looks like Steel from DC and that was about all I could figure out.

Marcio Takara’s art is hurried and sketchy and muddy, and I just couldn’t understand what was going on enough to care about any of the characters. I also couldn’t stop thinking about how terrible everyone on that world must smell if they’re stuck in armor all the time.

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46. Secret Wars 2099

by Peter David and William Sliney

Alchemax’s future Avengers were featured in this book, but do not read it. Even if you’re a huge fan of Peter David’s work with the 2099 characters (and ps I was pretty disappointed not to see the 2099 X-Men, but whatever), I don’t think you should buy this.

The art was very, very bad. Imagine if Tony Harris—the artist from Starman and Ex Machina who specializes in vibrant photoreal art—took his reference pictures, cut everyone’s face off of their head, shifted the face 2% to the side, and then drew from that, and you’ll have a good idea of what everyone in Secret Wars 2099 looked like.

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47. Age of Apocalypse

by Fabian Nicieza and Gerardo Sandoval

This one almost broke me.

I loooooooooooooooooooove the Age of Apocalypse. And not just the timeline.

I love all the amped up ‘90s-comic-tics-on-steroids series from that whole crossover. I bought the Blink mini that led into Exiles. Hell, the first thing I read when I got Marvel Unlimited was the David Lapham series that spun out of Uncanny X-Force. I so desperately wanted to like this, but dear heavens it was terrible.

Despite being written by one of the authors of the original series, I don’t remember anyone from real AoA OR the sequel in 2004 OR the Lapham follow up acting like these characters do at all. Gerardo Sandoval did his best Roger Cruz imitating Joe Madureira impression with the art, and the pages are almost entirely illegible, except for the part where Apocalypse… gets the Legacy Virus? And ends up a puddle of goo?

And then at the end of the book, the Phoenix burns out everyone’s mutant gene, and just like that decades of war and genocide are forgotten and everyone holds hands and walks away. Which is cool, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened at the Nuremberg Trials. “Okay guys, you’re :poof: not German anymore. Now let’s all say sorry.” “Wunderbar! Jawol, herr richter!”

Seriously, this was horrifyingly bad comics.

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48. Old Man Logan

by Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino

You know, it’d be really nice if someone would edit Brian Michael Bendis. If they did, someone might have caught that he made AoA Apocalypse sound like goddamn Woody Allen and said “No, Brian, that’s stupid. Don’t do that.”

Or looked at the issue that was 20 pages of Logan fighting zombies only to be put back exactly where he ended the previous issue and said “No, Brian, that’s a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t do that.”

Or gone through his script with red pen and put “I” in front of every time someone said “‘m,” with a note in the margins that says “‘m’gonna go ahead and fix these, because m’of the opinion that this is pretty silly, and if m’annoyed by it and m’getting paid to read it, our customers will be pretty pissed.”

The only thing keeping this out of the bottom is Andrea Sorrentino’s art, which is incredible. But it’s not enough to make this book good, or even not terrible. Even the incredible art only holds it to “not the worst comic Marvel’s published this year.”

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49. Star Lord and Kitty Pryde

by Sam Humphries and Alti Firmansyah

Judge Star Lord and Kitty Pryde by its cover and it would be dismissed as meaningless fluff. It’s a heist romance featuring Shadowcat and the guy from Guardians of the Galaxy. Ok, so what? But I, dear friends, had to actually read this piece of crap, so I’m going to judge it by the vastly more insipid garbage that happened on the inside.

To recap: In Secret Wars #4, Doctor Strange scatters the survivors of Earth 616 around Battleworld, and gets killed by Doom for doing so. Peter Quill, one of those refugees, is, according to this story, sent to the nightclub in Doom’s castle, because there’s no way Doom would ever find him there. He’s also not sent to the domain where Guardians of Knowhere takes place, because what good is a big crossover like this if there weren’t three books directly contradicting each other.

ANYWAY, the Star Lord hiding in Doomstadt and miraculously not getting killed for it decides that to best protect his identity, he will take the name of noted repeat criminal and exile from several different Battleworld territories (according to Planet Hulk) Steve Rogers, and become a lounge singer in the bar everyone from everywhere in Battleworld goes. There he meets Kitty Pryde from the Age of Apocalypse domain.

Kitty, who I can only assume got better following the events of Age of Apocalypse #5 (as did her Baron, who this series made me remember was a puddle of goo in that issue, but was miraculously healed in time to become one of Doom’s generals in Secret Wars #7. Thanks, Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde!), bears absolutely no resemblance to the character from the actual AoA crossover.

There, she was a broken, furious woman who got murdered to death by Colossus’s shinbone. Here, she’s a drooling fundamentalist, who spends three issues arguing with Quill about hair she was tasked with tracking that, according to all their science, did not originate on Battleworld. The hair, Pryde argues, actually strengthens the argument that Doom is the rightful God of their world, because only God could make a rock so big that God could not lift it. Splinter religions were created from similar hair splitting, but it was never quite this stupid.

So after spending three issues talking about how great and smart his Kitty Pryde is, Peter Quill decides that this shambling heretic version of her is totally worth kissing, so he cheats on his 616 fiancee with her.

This comic is the reason why people make fun of philosophy students.

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50. Ultimate End

by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

I don’t want to harp on the whole “Bendis needs an editor” thing, but if you’re going to hinge an entire series on Tonys Stark finding a “dimensional rift” on the last planet in the final dimension that exists in the entire omniverse, an editor would have been able to point out that no, this is a fundamental flaw in your premise.

But even the flippant disregard for even the most basic details of the main series isn’t the worst thing about this comic. The entire last issue is so lazy and pointless and stupid that everyone involved in it should be ashamed of themselves.

Miles Morales swings into a giant conflict between the “616” heroes (presumably, even though it makes no sense for Cyclops to still be there after he got killed by Doom in Secret Wars #4) and makes everyone stop. Emma Frost then beams what’s been happening in the main series into everyone’s head.

Peter Parker, who had accompanied Miles to Doomstadt to find the Molecule Man in Secret Wars #5, is amazed at how horrible Battleworld is, because in Ultimate End, what other people wrote doesn’t matter. Then there’s a double page spread of like, 60 headshots. Then there’s a double page spread of Doom smiling. Then everyone stands around talking about how they have to go fight Doom. That takes 5 pages. And then we’re treated to the same 60 headshot spread cut and pasted five times over.

You can make the case that the Ultimate Universe saved Marvel Comics, that without Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley injecting new energy into their comics with Ultimate Spider-Man, there’s the very real possibility that the company would have gone bankrupt. For Marvel to close the book on that universe with this lazy, insignificant trash fire of a comic written by someone with no interest in sharing his universe with anyone else, and drawn by someone who worked like he had someplace better to be, is disrespectful not just to the fans who care about it, but to the company’s own history.

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