What is up With All These Marvel Comics Teasers?

Marvel's been showing off these mysterious comic covers for summer 2015. They're likely about Secret Wars. Let's take a closer look.

Recently, Marvel announced a new comic event Secret Wars, named after the classic story from thirty years ago. With the creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, it will essentially play as the explosive finale to Hickman’s amazing Avengers/New Avengers run. Both comics – New Avengers especially – have dealt with alternate realities being destroyed due to the impending collapse of the multiverse. While we don’t know the full details of what this event’s going to bring, we do know that it’s going to include a whole lot of alternate realities that we would have heard of.

The cover itself is a who’s who of alternate worlds, showing us the likes of Miles Morales Spider-Man, Earth X’s Black Panther, Iron Man Noir, American Dream, and many others.

This was all brought up at New York Comic Con, as it should be because that’s where you’re supposed to announce stuff like that. Then it got a little weird once the show was over. Marvel’s PR folks have been sending out their usual press release emails, but with one awkward difference: they’d just send us a cover and no context whatsoever. No write-up or even a paragraph. Just, “Here’s your news! Have fun with it!”

It started with this cover for Civil War.

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Yes, Civil War, the 2006 event that may or may not be the subject of the next Captain America movie. It looks like it would be any given Civil War cover. Iron Man, Captain America, and especially Spider-Man are in their duds from that time, the theme of Cap vs. Iron Man with Spidey in the middle is apparent, it’s done by Adi Granov, and it even has the style of making the bottom half white space. So simple, yet so curious. What could it mean?

I mean, yes, Captain America and Iron Man are on the outs these days, but Steve’s an old man and Tony’s changed armor various times over. Not to mention red and gold Spider-Man. It’s not like they’d just redo the story in regular continuity. Could it be some kind of special omnibus rerelease? Are they going to do another What If story? If so, why so cryptic?

The popular theory was that it would have to do with Hickman’s Secret Wars. Perhaps, with all this multiversal destruction going on, we’ll see a world just like 616, only Civil War is going on now or simply never ended. Imagine if the whole Illuminati plot from New Avengers was going on during Civil War! God, that would be an interesting wrench in continuity. It would be like What If: Annihilation (one of my all-time favorite comic issues) where Nova shows up to see everyone slugging it out over secret identities and chewing them out because, “Do you have any idea what’s coming for us?!”

Then there’s Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies, also advertised for summer of 2015. Unlike Civil War, this one’s believable as an actual new storyline that Marvel would give us. Just…not in such a mysterious way without any context. The cover shows only zombies based on supervillains, though some have notably been killed off in the main Marvel Zombies books (Red Skull and Rhino, especially). Ultron is one of the few characters who the zombie virus plot device couldn’t infect because he’s in no way organic. It’s kind of a perfect evil vs. evil setup where each side wants the other annihilated so they can in turn wipe out humanity.

In fact, when you think of it that way, it’s a wonderful contrast to the key point of Civil War where it’s hero vs. hero. What if there’s an incursion between these two worlds and we’ll have to see them fight each other? Maybe I’m getting a bit too ahead of myself with the speculation.

Heh. This one’s kind of funny. From the five pieces of the image, it’s obvious that this is a faithful retelling of Days of Future Past. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing off about it. Even has a rare appearance by Destiny of all people!

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But I lied. There is something off about it. The title. Years of Future Past. All the other teasers use the names of actual Marvel event stories, even if they have nothing to do with the original. They could have called the previous one Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies, but they specifically tossed in the Age of Ultron name. So what’s the deal? Why not just call it Days of Future Past?

Most likely is that this is part of Marvel’s current editorial mandate to undermine the properties that they don’t own the movie rights to. Yes, it will be an X-Men comic. Yes, it will be based on the same story that the recent movie was. No, they do not want to remind you that that movie exists because to Hell with Fox. If changing the title gives Fox less of a spotlight, then they’ll do it.

At least, that’s the theory.

Oh my God. Oh. My. GOD.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

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1) Barbarian Captain America with a badass axe!

2) Devil Dinosaur for some reason!

3) I think that’s Elektra as a Hulk?

4) The Incredible Hulk Hogan!

5) Gray Abomination really wants a piece of shirtless Cap, but damn it, Elektra, you’re getting in the way!

6) Not only is there a Hulk with muttonchops, but there are TWO – count ‘em – TWO Hulks with handlebar mustaches! And the other one doesn’t want any part of this.

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Even if this doesn’t have anything to do with Secret Wars, I’m buying this one based on cover alone because goddamn!

“Tony, we need your help figuring out a way to stop the incursions.”

“Sorry, I was too busy building armor for Galactus. What’s up?”

Then again, it might be Galactus-Buster Armor. We saw the same thing in Tony’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3 ending, though probably not so tall. And not blowing up the Statue of Liberty.

It’s hard to say how symbolic this cover is or if it’s as advertised. Just a world where Stark’s inventions have gone too far and are battling it out while causing massive damage to the planet itself. Is the threat the fault of a villain or simply the Stark AI gone mad? Are there people inside the armor or is it a hollow free-for-all? Guess we’ll find out in nine months or so.

Much like Civil War, this one’s pretty on the nose. All the same character designs we know and love from the old miniseries. Well, except for Magneto’s outfit. Marvel’s had to distance themselves from House of M Magneto’s duds when Spanish royalty got all snippy about it being a blatant copy of King Juan Carlos’ uniform.

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Coincidentally, this wouldn’t be the first time Marvel’s revisited the House of M world. Years after the miniseries ended, they released several tie-ins that explained such events as the rise of Magneto (Civil War: House of M), the creation of Luke Cage’s team of heroes (House of M: Avengers), and a story about the Hood leading all the non-mutant supervillains into making a stand for human rights (House of M: Masters of Evil). I wouldn’t mind another trip.

Ah, now this picture says a lot. I mean, it says a lot when Star-Lord being there is the least interesting part of the image. In the foreground, we have a family of Novas. No doubt, this is the Alexander family: Jesse, Eva, Sam, and Kaelynn. Rather than Jesse being a drunken former Nova who goes missing, passing the mantle to his son, the entire family is in on the fun.

Speaking of Nova, is it just me or is Thanos’ headgear a bit of a hybrid of his classic helmet and the Nova design? Either way, the more important thing is his gauntlet. It’s incomplete. Looks like he only has the Mind and Time Gems in his possession. Perhaps the only thing keeping him from completing the collection is the Alexander family and maybe Star-Lord.

It’s tragic when you think about it. The best-case scenario would be for Thanos to get the whole set of Infinity Gems. If an incursion is coming, the Gauntlet would at least be able to stave it off at the cost of most of the Gems in one fell swoop. By keeping it out of his hands, the Novas are only dooming themselves quicker.

Oh, Old Man Logan. Back when Mark Millar had his whole thing where he was writing four different comics of differing quality that all tied into each other somehow. In this world where Wolverine wussed out on being a hero because he got outsmarted by Mysterio of all people, evil rules what’s left of the world and soon Logan gets back in the game while doing his best Clint Eastwood from Unforgiven impression. Plus Hulk and She-Hulk inbreed because Millar.

I’m glad to see the Venom T-Rex back in action, at least.

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And curveball!

Inhumans: Attilan Rising has nothing to do with preexisting alternate realities nor events. I’m kind of surprised they didn’t just call it “Attilan Attacks” as a play on the old Atlantis Attacks crossover. It’s a toss-up of whether or not this even takes place in Earth 616 or if it’ll be an alternate reality. All the fallen heroes are blatantly the current versions, from the female Thor to Magneto’s white threads.

The Inhuman lineup is also incredibly recent, tying in with the current Inhuman ongoing by including Inferno and Jason in the pack, standing tall. Black Bolt is currently MIA thanks to the events of Infinity and New Avengers, but solicitations show that he’ll be back in the fold soon enough.

The real question is why Attilan is rising against the heroes. They seem pretty cool about stuff so far.

For the third time in recent history, we’re getting the, “Ultimate Universe will be destroyed! …or will it?!” story. This time I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ultimate Universe is truly done for. Over a decade ago, it was the new hotness and gave us concentrated quality in our Marvel titles. It added a fresh coat of paint over old concepts and helped launch writers to the forefront.

Now it’s unnecessary. The mainstream comics are doing fine by themselves and everything Ultimate has fallen to the wayside. Ultimatum killed off most of the characters for the sake of shaking it up and all it did was cause it all to flounder. If it wasn’t for Ultimate Spider-Man, the continuity would have faded away years ago.

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In terms of the preexisting event pattern that’s rampant, Marvel used to do plenty of miniseries and one-shots called The End, based on the likes of Punisher, Hulk, Wolverine, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four in their final adventures.

I guess this will have to be another Age of Apocalypse reality, considering the one we know and love has been destroyed worse than the Ultimates world. A reality where Xavier died saving the life of Magneto – who in turn started the X-Men out of respect – was not only an event in the 90s and revisited ten years later, but it’s also recently been given its own ongoing series. Every single one of those characters on the cover has been killed off, except for Wolverine, who became the new Apocalypse until being purged of the evil.

That doesn’t matter, since even though the world was finally given a hopeful and uplifting ending where humans and mutants can live together in harmony, X-Tinction happened and now that world is toast.

Nice to see Storm and Colossus cosplaying as Smoke and Iron Fist.

Maestro, please.

A short-lived Hulk story from the 90s, Future Imperfect has been a staple story in Hulk history for years. Peter David’s story shows a future ruled by an insane Hulk with the intelligence of Bruce Banner. Though eventually defeated by his time-traveling, younger self, Maestro is a horrible reminder of what the Hulk – especially the super-intelligent Hulk of the 90s – could one day become.

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This wouldn’t be Future Imperfect’s first time messing with an alternate reality story. Back in the day, the Exiles came to a world ruled by Maestro with member Proteus hoping to take over his body.

If anything, Future Imperfect is remembered for the shattered mementos of heroes and villains of the past, much like the trophies surrounding Maestro on that cover.

Haha, what a troll. Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is most definitely a What If based on the infamous One More Day. Making a deal with Mephisto to keep Aunt May alive, Peter and MJ not only sold their marriage away, but undid the eventual creation of their daughter. Now we’ll get to see what life would have been like if that deal with the Devil had never taken place. Whether the Parkers simply refused to do it or if May never got shot in the first place, we’ll find out soon enough.

Now we have the revisiting of the incredibly recent Avengers vs. X-Men, otherwise known as AvX. Skottie Young takes care of the cover, as cutesy baby versions of heroes has become his thing. Is this supposed to be a joke on him doing constant baby variants on an otherwise straight-laced story or is this comic going to be a full-on Skottie Young production in the style of the young heroes?

A curious thing in this image is who shows up. Deadpool is there, which might mean nothing since Young may have just drawn him in for the sake of punchline. Black Bolt and Medusa, on the other hand, have seemingly no reason to be there at all. They didn’t have anything to do with AvX the first time around. This just opens up a lot of questions. Are we going to see a world where they (and Deadpool) were Avengers or X-Men? What exactly does this whole crashed Earth thing symbolize? Perhaps we’ll be seeing a world where AvX and the incursions happen simultaneously, showing how the warring hero factions react.

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Early 90s X-Men. That’s an event, right? I guess, much like Claremont’s X-Men Forever, we’re getting a universe where the X-Men are still in their popular Jim Lee era. They really could have just called this one X-Men Forever if it wasn’t for Wolverine being alive and Storm being on the team. Regardless, this summer we’ll discover if the power of pure nostalgia is enough to stop the incursions.

I’m going to chalk up the lack of Beast on the cover to pretending that this is taking place during the first season of the X-Men animated series. Or he’s in the bathroom.

We’ll see how much more juice Marvel has with their little teasers and how long until they stop with the promos. Perhaps we’ll see some Secret Invasion or Fear Itself action in the near future. Until then, we’ll keep updating this article with more new covers. Summer 2015 is going to be an interesting time.

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