Lots of Thors in #2
During a "Secret Wars Kick-Off Event" that was held this afternoon at Midtown Comics in New York City, Marvel EIC Axel Alonso and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort proclaimed the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it.  In fact the Secret Wars event will also mark the end of the Ultimate Universe, which will collide with the mainstream Marvel Universe.  Alonso put it this way: "The Ultimate Universe and the Marvel Universe, they are gone to slap together.  Imagine two pizzas, they’re going to combine toppings, some toppings are going to drop off--and this is the Marvel Universe going forward.  It’s more than the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe, it’s all the universes you can imagine."

Once the Ultimate and Marvel Universes start to intersect in what Marvel calls an "incursion," which will happen in issue #1 of Secret Wars, the heroes of the two worlds will have about 8 hours to figure out what do about it before both universes are destroyed--and according to Brevoort, "They won’t."  Brevoort explained the resulting chaos from the intersection will be known as "Battleworld, the detritus, the melting world from which the new Marvel Universe will be fermented... Once you hit Secret Wars #1, there’s no Marvel Universe, there’s no Ultimate Universe, it’s all Battleworld."

The end of the Ultimate Universe has been widely forecast--the only ongoing Ultimate title after February will be the Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man book, and the way Marvel has been treating Miles, don’t be surprised if he makes the cut and becomes part of the post-Battleworld, newly reconstituted Marvel Universe.

At the press conference Marvel revealed an interactive map of Battleworld, revealing the different "countries" where surviving characters exist.  The teasers released by Marvel so far only account for a portion of the Battleworld landscape and characters, so expect a series of major announcements over the next few weeks, since only "the tip of the iceberg" has been revealed so far.  Marvel’s Chris D’Lando, who moderated the proceedings, noted that more tie-ins to the massive crossover event were in the works, stating "we haven’t even announced half of the titles yet."

The question that naturally springs to mind is whether or not Marvel is rebooting all of its titles and essentially destroying 54 years of continuity that has marked the Marvel Universe since its creation by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, et al in 1961?  Alonzo described
Secret Wars "putting an endcap to decades of stories, and starting a new era."  There will certainly be opportunities for change--as Alonzo put it, "If we wanted to resurrect Gwen Stacy, this would be the place to do it."  As if to highlight the changes Alonzo pointed to a cover image showing a married Peter Parker with Mary Jane and baby daughter in tow, and said "If you’re an Amazing Spider-Man reader, this is going to be your book," and adding "We’re launching a wealth of new series, both ongoing and minis, during Secret Wars."

The Secret Wars event will really start on Free Comic Book Day with the Secret Wars #0 giveaway, which Brevoort described as a "primer" for the event, and which will include the North American debut of the Avengers/Attack on Titan crossover that appeared in Japan last year (see "Japanese 'Attack on Titan/Marvel' Crossover").  It appears that Marvel really is trying to bring all its universes together for this Secret Wars event.

Brevoort and Alonzo also revealed Alex Ross’ cover to Secret Wars #2, and Brevoort noted that “in an odd twist, the second issue is the fat one.  It’s a gargantuan, oversized issue.  It will give a full guided tour of the new Battleworld and set up everything you need to know.”

As was the case with the first Secret Wars event, Marvel has been working with its licensees to create special Secret Wars merchandise with Hasbro, Funko, Mattel (Hot Wheels), Mad Engine, and Mighty Fine all on board.