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Posted by gmanfromheck (42524 posts) - - Show Bio

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.

Covers to issues 1-6.
Covers to issues 1-6.

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 ==
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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.

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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).

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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.

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#1 Posted by The_Soverighn (2116 posts) - - Show Bio


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#2 Posted by Vulshock (166 posts) - - Show Bio

My dad gave me a danish hardcover edition of Secret Wars. It is still great. It got me into comics!

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#3 Posted by StMichalofWilson (5639 posts) - - Show Bio

Epic crossover! One of Marvel's best!!!

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#4 Posted by Mucklefluga (2653 posts) - - Show Bio

I got the first issue free on Comixology (i don't know if it's still free now?) it seemed pretty good, i never did get the rest off there tho.

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#5 Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus (6958 posts) - - Show Bio

Its essentially Marvel's equal to DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths in the sense that it was the biggest crossover event in the company up to that time. A definite must read, even if essentially the Beyonder of that event no longer exists in the MU.

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#6 Posted by Omega Ray Jay (8418 posts) - - Show Bio

Love the Secret Wars

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#7 Posted by SoA (6246 posts) - - Show Bio

i want a shirt of issue six

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#8 Posted by evilvegeta74 (4674 posts) - - Show Bio

It was great!

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#9 Posted by xblah_blahx (2893 posts) - - Show Bio

Awe yes, such a good comics. But then again most were back then. That was a time it seemed like Marvel actually cared about comics. Before Marvel got Quesada running the show :-/

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#10 Posted by mettlekm (435 posts) - - Show Bio

Loved it! It's what got me into comics. Jim Shooter did some good.

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#11 Posted by MagmaGazer (132 posts) - - Show Bio

This is a true classic, however laced with heavy dialogue. But then, that's what made it great, all that repartee.

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#12 Posted by TommytheHitman (6940 posts) - - Show Bio

Such a great event...

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#13 Posted by shackle (218 posts) - - Show Bio

"There" not "they're" in the second sentence. I hate to be pedantic, but you're a better writer than that to let that go unchanged, G-man.

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#14 Posted by zombietag (1699 posts) - - Show Bio

who hasnt read this? cmon guys!

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#15 Edited by pspin (1081 posts) - - Show Bio

This was the first big two comic I ever got (in trade) and got me hooked on comics. It was great!

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#16 Posted by packerbacker180 (3 posts) - - Show Bio

Such a fun and simple series. Had all the figures as a kid, even some of the vehicles. Could you imagine if Bendis did this now? It would take five years and sixty issues.

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#17 Posted by charlieboy (7179 posts) - - Show Bio

I just wish Kitty would have been in this. She was originally but apparently it was felt by some at Marvel that Colossus was too old for Kitty so that whole contrived love story with the alien on Beyonder's world happened. The series is great otherwise.

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#18 Posted by chasereis (803 posts) - - Show Bio

Mike Zeck in his prime should a requirement for all new comics fans to read.

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#19 Posted by Mezmero (1005 posts) - - Show Bio

Consider it done. I've always been curious about this event but never got around to reading it. Thanks for the great article.

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#20 Posted by Suprman (458 posts) - - Show Bio

This is one of those stories I've been trying to read but haven't had time or haven't found it. Plus I also wanted to read Crisis on Infinite Earths first, which I did and I very much enjoyed it. I do believe I will buy Secret Wars, if I can find a decent cheap copy of the Trade. To the Internet!

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#21 Posted by ccraft (12437 posts) - - Show Bio

I watched the cartoon of this, at least I thought it was this.. Did they make an animated Secret Wars? Maybe it was in the old Spiderman cartoons.

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#22 Posted by GR2Blackout (2931 posts) - - Show Bio

@Vulshock said:

My dad gave me a danish hardcover edition of Secret Wars.

Lucky! My dad gave me money... I mean, money's totally worthless these days!

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#23 Posted by Decept-O (8098 posts) - - Show Bio

Fond memories of this series. Wonderful bit of nostalgia, hate to think this all happened so long ago already. I still cringe at Beyonder's hair-do and his get-up. However, Hulk lifting a mountain made up for it all, not to mention Dr. Doom and Reed Richards at his best using his cranium. Can't forget Spidey!

Thanks for posting this and giving newer and younger readers a bit of history regarding what has to be one of Marvel's Top 10 events.

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#24 Posted by JimTheSurfer (580 posts) - - Show Bio

Am I the only one who didn't like Secret Wars? On the other hand, I didn't like '80s comics in general...

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#25 Posted by mcbean (308 posts) - - Show Bio

I'll stick with DC

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#26 Posted by Mrfuzzynutz (1626 posts) - - Show Bio

Why you should read this? Maybe I am a bit biased since I was able to read this when it came out...But this was a game changer at the time.

Spider-man Vs. The X-men. Spidey vs Titania, Dr Doom vs Everyone, the Heroes take on Galactus, Wolverine vs Absorbing Man's arm. Colossus and Human Torch falling for the same women. Magneto trying to seduce The Wasp so much more!

this is a must read, right up there with Crisis

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#27 Posted by GC8 (2900 posts) - - Show Bio

Jim Shooter goes out of his way to lampoon his political opposite, Steve Gerber, but I remember even as a kid, when I read that I kinda felt like saying 'yeah' to some of what Thundersword was saying - even as hyperbolic and hypocritical as it may have seemed.

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#28 Posted by AlwaysBeClothing (277 posts) - - Show Bio

Will have to check it out, as I'm a sucker for Symbiote Spidey.

Wonder if Tony is going to write, "Why you should read" The Clone Saga or Teen Titans in the future.

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#29 Posted by QuantomMan (221 posts) - - Show Bio

This is the only arc that I've read multiple times

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#30 Posted by YourNeighborhoodComicGeek (21616 posts) - - Show Bio

Its a pretty decent read. Loved the action and how it unfolded.

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#31 Posted by longbowhunter (9425 posts) - - Show Bio

I remember collecting the action figures back in the 80's. I was too young to keep up with the series but read it as a young adult. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't everything I was expecting either. I kinda think this story gets too much credit.

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#32 Posted by PhoenixoftheTides (4701 posts) - - Show Bio

I liked it. The toy line was pretty cool, too. I was blown away by action figures when I was a kid - the idea that you could read a story featuring a character and then have a 3-d, plastic version to play with in real life made my five-six year old head expand. Also - this series really impressed the idea on me that despite a character getting top billing in their book, they might be small potatoes or mid-tier in the overall universe they inhabited - seeing Spiderman own the X-Men was pretty funny, for example.


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#33 Posted by tamabone (186 posts) - - Show Bio

Second greatest mini series of the 80's behind only Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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#34 Posted by tamabone (186 posts) - - Show Bio

Just another reason why Jim Shooter's reign as the head of Marvel was the best time in Marvel history.

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#35 Posted by Phaedrusgr (1715 posts) - - Show Bio

Secret Wars is the arc that changed comic books. For me, a real fan of the genre has to "study" this epic crossover/team-up story.

P.S. Hey, Dan, take a look at your "hero" in this arc...

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#36 Posted by Miss_Garrick (1805 posts) - - Show Bio

@tamabone: AMEN!

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#37 Posted by Miss_Garrick (1805 posts) - - Show Bio

This and the Secret Wars II were awesome. There were so many great character developments (good guys and bad guys), the plot with the Beyonder was interesting and it was pretty much the only time a Marvel crossover worked.

I own a few original issues of Secret Wars and the Secret Wars II omnibus, so I know of what I speak.

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#38 Posted by MadeinBangladesh (12493 posts) - - Show Bio

I gotta check some of trades out for secret wars.. I hope they are not expensive.

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#39 Posted by tximinoman (331 posts) - - Show Bio

Doom's battle against Beyonder was epic and the second half is pretty good, also it's one of the first really big crossover's in Marvel, and it deserves some credit because of that... but... I don't know, I don't belive this is a good comic, I mean... the art is pretty weak for the most part and most of the characters are poorly written (at the heroes side the X-Men took the worst part -especially Wolverine- and at the villains side almost every villain just become a mindless Dr.Doom's henchman).

Yes, it's a classic and all but if you want to read a huge crossover with the heroes figthing and almighty villain you better read the Infinite Gauntlet story or even DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths (way bigger and way better than this one).

(sorry if my english is bad)

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#40 Posted by Mighty Thorion (918 posts) - - Show Bio

I read the series when it first came out in the 80's and loved it - I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it

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#41 Posted by Mighty Thorion (918 posts) - - Show Bio

@tamabone said:

Just another reason why Jim Shooter's reign as the head of Marvel was the best time in Marvel history.

Unfortunately the "New Universe" was a reason to contradict the point you make - and ultimately led to Shooter leaving Marvel

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#42 Posted by Deadcool (6944 posts) - - Show Bio

I own some original issues from the Secret Wars.

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#43 Posted by DanialCarroll (2540 posts) - - Show Bio

I'd love to read this some time. I've only been reading comics for a few years now, and the only older ones I've gone back and read have been Infinity Gauntlet and Moon Knight. Funnily enough, Moon Knight's first series was cancelled about the time this event happened :)

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#44 Edited by BritishMonkey (359 posts) - - Show Bio

I want to. I should find the trade for it.

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#45 Posted by butters911 (615 posts) - - Show Bio

The first few issues are pretty hokey, but after that when Doom starts getting involved it becomes downright epic

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#46 Posted by nappystr8 (1548 posts) - - Show Bio

I've only been actively reading comics since around '03 or '04. Even though I have read a lot of back issue comics, and enjoy many of them, it seems like modern comics have a certain quality to them that is missing in most stuff from the 70's, 80's, and even 90's (stuff from the 60's and earlier is often downright unreadable to me). So when I first started getting issues of Secret Wars packed in with the Hasbro toys, I wasn't expecting much, but wow was I blown away by how good they were. Jim Shooter immediately became a name that I took note of.

The concept sounds so silly, even by comic book standards, but the way it all actually plays out is entirely captivating. Secret Wars is easily one of the best event books ever published. Every Marvel fan should read this series, don't be afraid of it feeling dated.

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#47 Posted by Notathug78 (162 posts) - - Show Bio

Bought the paperback years back definitely worth the read. Great writing good art work for the time, awesome battles and tons of characters.

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#48 Posted by kartron (535 posts) - - Show Bio

This is an encouraging and informative article. I will definitely read this arc!!!

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#49 Posted by Owie (7248 posts) - - Show Bio

This is one (along with Secret Wars II) of the first comics I read as a kid, and they completely influenced my understanding of the Marvel Universe, and basically created my love of comics. One of my very favorites.

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#50 Posted by Donovan Montgomery (5752 posts) - - Show Bio

Definitely a must read (I've read it at least three times, the first as it came out). Thanks for the reminder.

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