It’s been nearly three whole months since we bid adieu to the Marvel comic universe of old, and said hello to the world of “All-New, All-Different” Marvel. In many ways, a lot has changed, and in some frustrating ways, barely anything has. Not been reading along? This is how it has shaped up so far.
Somehow, Secret Wars is still happening—it got delayed, had a whole new issue added on to its run, and Marvel even had a joke at its own expense that even it had no idea how it would all wrap up. So we don’t really quite know how everything lines up to create the Marvel universe fans have been reading about since October.
And even with those three months of stories, we don’t really know the real impact. In many ways, the world isn’t all that different—some characters have shuffled about and major events have set them on new paths, but for all intents and purposes, these heroes are still the same heroes we knew before the universe went kablammo. Peter Parker might be a Tony-Stark-ian tech billionaire, but he’s still swinging around as Spider-Man. He might be making some controversial waves in the real world and in the comics, but Sam Wilson is still Captain America. Jane Foster is still Thor, battling cancer as she battles the mythic threats to Asgard and beyond.
Even the sense of a multiverse is still there—Spider-Gwen, for example, is still set on the parallel world of Earth-65. Speaking of Spider-Heroes, the Web Warriors still patrol the interconnected realities that are home to alternate Spider-Men and Spider-Women, too. Marvel’s “Ultimate” parallel reality was a big casualty in Secret Wars, but beyond that, it still seems like a good chunk of this extended universe still exists.
That’s not to say there haven’t been hints though. Invincible Iron Man has started sowing the seeds for some sort of cross-dimensional shenanigans that could explain a least a little of what happened: Doctor Doom has been newly invigorated (and been made shockingly handsome enough to not need his mask any more) after he ruled over Battleworld in Secret Wars, and is hunting down relics from other realities before they do serious harm on earth.
That frustration of nothing too much happening also extends to some of Marvel’s comics at the moment—it was always going to be a slow burn, but even with some series entering their third or fourth issues now, not a lot has really happened in the “All-New, All-Different” universe.
A groundwork has been laid; the vast majority of new series have spent their first, if not also their second issues, establishing a status quo to go forward on. But in terms of big events driving everything ahead? We’re still getting there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—and some series have definitely hit the ground running, like All-New X-Men, Uncanny Avengers, Invincible Iron Man, and more—but at this point getting some major traction going in this new universe would be nice.
This even extends to what could arguably be the flagship title of “All-New, All-Different”: All-New, All-Different Avengers ... which, two issues in, only just about features the main Avengers team that Marvel have been teasing for months and months at this point. They don’t even call themselves the Avengers yet!
It’s kind of insane that one of the biggest books of this new lineup still hasn’t quite gotten its heroes together yet, but the Avengers in particular are a curious case. It doesn’t really matter that the “main” Avengers haven’t quite assembled, because suddenly, there’s a lot more of them.
The Avengers have always been more than just the main team. Great Lakes Avengers. New Avengers. Secret Avengers. Mighty Avengers. The list could go on and on. But in “All-New, All-Different,” we’ve suddenly got a lot of disparate branches of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and that soon might be a bit of a problem.
Let’s break it down. Aside from the main Avengers, we have:
- The Uncanny Avengers, a “Unity” team of Humans, Mutants, and Inhumans ... and Deadpool
- The New Avengers, a group of younger heroes that have merged with the previously villainous organization AIM
- The Ultimates, cosmic Avengers who deal with universe-threatening characters like Galactus
- The Squadron Supreme, a group made up of sole survivors of parallel realities destroyed in Secret Wars
- The A-Force, an all-women team that was made for Secret Wars but will live on in this new universe
That’s not counting technical Avengers groups like the upcoming Illuminati comic, either. Not all of them may have “Avenger” right in the name, but that’s a lot of Avenging happening.
And now we know that’s all going to come to a head in March of next year. This week Marvel announced plans for a crossover event called “Avengers Standoff,” which will see circumstances sour between these different groups and have the Avengers duking it out over a mysterious place called Pleasant Hill Alpha. Could we perhaps end Standoff with fewer of Earth’s Mightiest hanging around?
One of the biggest concerns going into this reboot from fans was the fear that Marvel will push away the X-Men—thanks to an ongoing spat over movie and merchandise rights—in favor of heavily promoting the Inhumans, who have their own movie coming up as part of Marvel’s monolithic shared universe. And while, yes, the Inhumans have made a huge splash in “All-New, All-Different,” the X-Men are just as prominent as ever, dealing with their own issues (and the fallout of whatever the hell Cyclops did to make the world hate them again). They even have similar amounts of books dedicated to each other.
In the comics though, that happy co-existence is ... well, it’s not entirely there. After all, one of the biggest points of this new universe so far has been that Inhumans are on the rise and Mutantkind is slowly dying out, after the release of Terrigen Mists across the world began poisoning mutants and awakening new Inhumans. While the different X-Men and Inhumans teams are both trying to tackle the event, it’s clear that the X-Men are being put on the back foot for a little while. They’re down, but not out, like they have been many times before.
Somehow, Marvel are still not done putting out new series for this Universe despite an almost overwhelming number of them being out already. A lot of those books are going to be about expanding and diversifying Marvel’s slate even further—we’ve had books like Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur or this week’s Weirdworld introducing new leading female characters, for example—but we’re also going to get some key heroes making their series debuts. Hopefully, these will answer some big questions about how this all came about in the first place, like Miles Morales’ very own Spider-Man series set in the current world, or the highly anticipated Black Panther series due out in March.
It may not quite feel like “All-New, All-Different” has kicked into high gear just yet—but it seems like Marvel are in this for the long run, and we can’t wait to see what answers are in store for one of comics’ biggest universes, next year and beyond.