Back in the mid-80s, comic book crossovers weren't a common thing. That may be hard to believe but there weren't huge events occurring each month in one comic or another. When Marvel was approached by Mattel to create an event they could build a toy line around, soon the premise of this story began to unfold. The result would be a handful of Marvel heroes and villains fighting each other on a distant world in MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS.
This may have started as a way to appease a toy company but Jim Shooter, the series writer and Marvel Editor-in-Chief at the time, made it much more than that. It was indeed an event and affected the titles of the characters involved.
The premise of the story was an omnipotent being from beyond, referred to as the Beyonder by the characters, discovered the Marvel Universe. He created Battleworld, a planet comprised of pieces of other planets, and teleported several heroes and villains with the purpose of fighting one another with the victor able to claim all that they desired. The series was tied into the characters' regular titles when we saw some of them discover a strange structure in Central Park. Upon investigating, they disappeared and were teleported away.== TEASER ==
Marvel didn't hold back with the characters involved. Most of their top characters were pulled into this series. The heroes included Spider-Man, the Avengers (Captain America, Jim Rhodes as Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Wasp, She-Hulk and Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel), the X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Rogue, Kitty Pryde's dragon Lockheed and Magneto) and three members of the Fantastic Four (Mister Fantastic, the Thing and the Human Torch). Magneto had recently started being associated as an ally to the X-Men but his 'hero status' was questioned by the other heroes.
This wasn't just a simple story of heroes fighting villains. It was the opportunity for the first meetings of several of these characters. We got to see how Rhodey mix it up with the other heroes early in his career, Magneto was deemed to be a hero despite the opinion of the others, a certain X-Men character did some things that caused the end of a long term relationship, the Thing discovered something about his powers, Julia Carpenter was introduced and, of course, Spider-Man discovered the symbiote Venom costume. Hulk also showed he could lift one hundred and fifty billion tons of mountain.
This was a crossover/team-up that mattered. There were repercussions that were felt in the characters' individual titles for years to come. In an interesting move, the characters disappeared one month in their titles and returned the following month. This gave readers a heads up as to what the mini-series could expect (for example, the Venom symbiote actually appeared the second month in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #252 while it first appeared in the eighth issue of the series).
We also had some great clashes among the villains, with the heroes and each other. The villains included Doctor Doom, Galactus, Kang the Conqueror, Molecule Man, Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Enchantress, Absorbing Man, the Wrecking Crew, Klaw and Ultron. We also saw the debut of Titania and Volcana. Galactus didn't really get too involved with the battle against the heroes as he had his own agenda. This did lead to some new insight into his character. Doctor Doom also made a grab for power when he decided to go up against the Beyonder.
I may have a bit of nostalgia over this series. But it contained all the major heroes and villains without becoming a convoluted mess as we sometimes see in today's major comic book events. Even though the characters had existed in the Marvel Universe for a couple decades, there was still a sense of everything being new.
A lot may have happened in the Marvel Universe since. This is an important piece of history for many of the characters and works as a good introduction to new readers. We don't have to have a bunch of tie-in issues and stories. All we need is one great story that stands the test of time.