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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Breaking Down Battle World in Marvel's 'Secret Wars'

As you are all probably aware, Marvel is prepping its readers for next summer's event, the return of Secret Wars.  This time penned by Jonathan Hickman, Secret Wars appears to be the climax of his runs on both Avengers and New Avengers, which have seen the incursions of alternate Earths.  Recently, Marvel gave us our first look at Battle World: the location of Secret Wars.  Now the time has come to take a closer look at that map, getting an idea of just what timelines, alternate worlds, and characters are involved.


**note: click on the picture for a larger, easier to read version

As you can see the Battle World of the new Secret Wars is a literal world...an entire planet composed of continents and bodies of water as opposed to a small arena controlled by The Beyonder (although he could certainly be involved in this story). Each continent is divided into a number of regions, with each region representing a different timeline or world in the multiverse of the Marvel Universe.  Some of these regions are occupied by events which are technically still in continuity, though most are alternate worlds/futures.  Not to make this too easy for readers, Hickman has given each region a code name.

Several weeks ago, Marvel released a video, showing off many of the regions which will be featured on the new Battle World.  This helped to not only give us an idea of the kind of events involved and the way the code names are being used, but it also showed how these regions are being organized.  Marvel events which are similar in nature are grouped together.  Dystopian futures are (generally) together, events centering around New York are together, X-men events are together, etc.  This also was a great help to figuring out what these other code names could be, in addition to the video and looking through the vast nooks and crannies of the Marvel Universe.

So let's take a look at each of these regions.  I am positive about almost all of these, but any which I (as of writing this) find myself unsure of are marked with an asterisk (*) and will be adjusted as more information on Secret Wars becomes available.  Three regions are not identified, but some speculation will be provided below.

Region Breakdown

1. Greenland - Planet Hulk - Greenland, seemingly the largest region in all of Battle World is home to characters and settings from the story Planet Hulk, as revealed in the aforementioned video.  The 2006 event written by Greg Pak told the story of the Hulk being jettisoned into space, where he became a gladiator and eventual leader of the planet Sakaar.  Presumably the latter Hulk will be more prominent.

2. Dystopia - Future Imperfect - Also revealed in the video, Dystopia is a region inhabited by Future Imperfect.  This 1993 story, also about the Hulk, deals with the green rage monster travelling to a future without heroes and ruled by the Hulk, now calling himself Maestro.

3. Domain of Apocalypse - Age of Apocalypse - Another region revealed in the video, this one is the home of Age of Apocaylpse, a 1995 crossover event about an alternate timeline where Charles Xavier is murdered while still friends with Magneto, who goes on to become founder and leader of the X-men in a time when Apocalypse takes over.  This is one of the most popular X-men stories of all time.

* 4. Egyptia - Presumably, this is another region which has something to do with Apocalypse.  Both due to its proximity to the Domain of Apocalypse as well as the fact that the X-men villain is originally from Egypt.  This could possibly be a time when Apocalypse was young, going by the name of En Sabah Nur.  This region could also feature the Mad Pharaoh, a Silver Age Iron Man villain.

5. Technopolis - Armor Wars - Another video-revealed region.  Technopolis is the home of Armor Wars, a 1987 Iron Man story written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton where Tony Stark finds his technology stolen by several super villains.  Lots of different Iron Man suits.

6. CLASSIFIED - More on these regions below

7. Spider-Land - Spider-Island - The code name for this one is a little on the nose, but it makes sense.  Spider-Island was a 2011, Dan Slott penned, storyline where everyone on the island of Manhattan was given the powers of Spider-man.  Given that Spider-Land is one of the only islands on Battle World, it seems unlikely that it is anything else.

8. The Regency - Spider-man - Another region revealed in the initial video.  This one focuses on Earth-928, presumably the Parker family, which includes the living daughter of Mary Jane and Peter, Mayday Parker, who becomes the Spider-Girl of her Earth.  This universe was teased with the tagline "Renew Your Vows."

9. King James England - Marvel 1602 - Another obvious code name.  King James England is the home to Marvel 1602, a 2003 mini-series by Neil Gaiman which re-imagines the Marvel Universe as starting in the early American colonies.

10. WeirdWorld - WeirdWorld - Region based on a little-known Marvel fantasy series from 1977 by Doug Moench and Mike Ploog.  Two elves named Tyndall and Velanna were the main characters.  An odd choice for Hickman to say the least.

11. K'un L'un - Iron Fist - Mystical land and the source of power for Iron First.  An interesting choice given that Iron Fist will be getting his own Netflix series about a year or so after Secret Wars starts.

*12. Utopolis - Squadron Supreme - This is one I'm not 100% on, but I'm pretty confident given that these characters recently showed up in Hickman's New Avengers (though they did get blown up).  The Squadron Supreme are Marvel's analogues for the Justice League.  Power Princess, the Wonder Woman of the team, is from Utopia Isle, leading me to believe Utopolis is a reference to them as well as a play on Metropolis.

13. New Mars - Ex-Nihilo - In the first story arc of Hickman's Avengers run, the team found themselves against Ex Nihilo, a powerful being and associate of the Builders, who was creating a new race of humans on Mars with intentions of destruction of all other life.  Presumably, New Mars will be a region made up of that colony.

14. CLASSIFIED - More on these regions below.

15. Higher Avalon - Captain Britain - Another mystical land, this one the home of King Arthur and source of power for the Captain Britain Corps.

* 16. Arachnia - Spider-man - Another land that must have SOMETHING to do with Spider-man.  Given the surrounding regions, this could be a utopia of some sort or utopia for Spider-man or spider-people.  OR, this could be where Morlund and the other members of his family live, the group who are currently hunting down the various Spider-men in Spider-verse.

17. Marville - Avengers versus X-men - Another video revealed region...never would have guessed it otherwise.  This one based on the 2012 crossover event featuring, you guessed it, the Avengers and X-men fighting.  Odd the number of events which are still in continuity being featured in Battle World.

18. Eye of Agamotto - Doctor Strange - This one is a bit odd as the name comes from an object, not a place or timeline.  Related to Doctor Strange, the Eye of Agamotto is an object which uses light to see through magic.  Presumably this region will relate to Doctor Strange, perhaps having various incarnations of the Sorcerer Supreme (Agamatto is a former member of this group).

19. CLASSIFIED - More on these regions below.

20. Manhattan - Ultimate/616/Inhumans/Monster Metropolis - This is probably the most interesting aspect of the entire Battle World map.  This spot is taken up by the most variety of worlds and timelines, also giving away an important future plot point.  Manhattan is occupied by NYC from both the Ultimate and 616 Universes, the Inhuman city of Attilan, and Monster Metropolis (featured in recent issues of Deadpool).

*21. The City - Yeah...this is one of only two of these regions that I haven't the slightest clue as to what it could be.  Given the surrounding regions and code names, it is obviously a story that NYC plays a huge role in, but that's about all I can garner.

22. The Warzone - Civil War - Another video revealed region.  Warzone is the home of 2006 Mark Millar crossover Civil War.  This event sees Captain America, Iron Man, and all the Marvel heroes fighting over the Superhuman Registration Act.  Probably Marvel's most popular event in the past decade.

23. New Quack City - Duckworld - Another obvious code name.  New Quack City being the NYC analogue of Duckworld, home dimension to Howard the Duck.

24. The Far East - Marvel Mangaverse - Though not directly associated with a city, it does make a bit of sense.  Home to the Marvel Mangaverse, a version of the Marvel U based on manga and other elements of Japanese pop culture.  Spider-man is a ninja, the Hulk is a kaiju, Iron Man is a Voltron-esque mech....you get the drill.

25. Valley of Flame - Devil Dinosaur - The Valley of Flame is the alternate Earth homeworld of Devil Dinosaur, a 1978 Jack Kirby creation who lives in a world where dinosaurs co-exist with man.  Right there with Weirdworld as a strange decision, albeit a more intriguing one.  Also worth noting that Marvel's old Godzilla comics spent some time here.

* 26. Hydra Empire - Secret Empire - It is entirely possible that Hydra Empire is made up of an alternate timeline where Hydra won WWII and took over the world.  Another possibility is that this region is made up of the Secret Empire, an organization with ties to Hydra, The Kingpin, and even the Hand.

27. 2099 - This one is pretty self-explanatory.  This region will be home to characters in Marvel's future timeline, specifically from the year 2099.  While Spider-man 2099 is the most popular character from that era, he currently resides in 2014 with the rest of 616.  Other characters portrayed in this future include the X-men, Doctor Doom, the Fantastic Four, and the Punisher.

28. Hala Field - Kree Empire - Hala Field is a part of the Kree Empire, making this one of the only cosmic-related region in the entirety of Battle World.  Hala Field is the birthplace of Ronan the Accuser, recently seen on film in Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as having connections to the current incarnation of Captain Marvel.

29. Monarchy of M - House of M - Revealed from the video.  Location of the 2005 event by by Brian Michael Bendis in an alternate future created by Scarlet Witch where humans are barely present and the world is ruled by Magneto, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver.  

30. Sentinel Territories - Days of Future Past - Video-revealed.  Location of the alternate future seen in Days of Future Past, the 1981 Chris Claremont story where mutants are hunted down by sentinels.  Recently adapted in the film of the same name.  Teased as Years of Future Past a month or so ago.

31. The Wastelands - Old Man Logan - Video revealed.  2008 Mark Millar story about an alternate future (are we noticing a trend with these X-men regions?) where most of the Marvel superheroes have been defeated.  An elderly Wolverine and Hawkeye are the protagonists, with an inbred Hulk family featured as one of the antagonists.

32. Mutopia - Mutant Town/ District X - Neighborhood in Alphabet City section of Manhattan which is primarily home to mutants.  Created by Grant Morrison during his run on  New X-men.  Also featured in Peter David's run on X-Factor.

33. Westchester - X-men '92 - Video revealed.  Location of the popular 1992 X-men animated series.  Thus far the only revealed region NOT based on a comic Marvel has published, though the cartoon was loosely based on the X-men comics of the time.  Revealed as X-men '92 a month or so ago.

*34. Killville - Murderworld - Not confident, but the play on words is definitely used throughout the map.  Island controlled by X-men villain Arcade, recently featured in the 2012 Dennis Hopeless series Avengers Arena.  Reality-show world where participants are forced to kill each other.

* 35. Arcadia - Arcade - Not 100% on this one either, especially given that Murderworld is already likely part of Battle World.  Could be associated with X-men villain Arcade, perhaps a more Bronze Age version of Murderworld as opposed to the modern Murderworld from Avengers Arena.  

36. Bar Sinister - Mr. Sinister - Most likely a region ruled by Mr. Sinister given both its name as well as location near regions presumably ruled by Apocalypse and Arcade.  Could potentially be Mr. Sinister's version of London as seen in Kieron Gillen's run on Uncanny X-men.

37. Limbo - There are three different versions of Limbo in the Marvel Universe, so this one is really up in the air.  Most known Limbo is ruled by Immortus.  Another Limbo was ruled by Rom the Spaceknight, another, later called Otherplace, was visited by the X-men.  The latter seems more likely given Limbo's location in Battle World.  

38. The Deadlands - Marvel Zombies - Location of Robert Kirkman's 2005 mini-series where the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe are turned into zombies, but keep their abilities and, mostly, their personalities.  A number of spin-offs were also published.  One of Marvel's more popular stories.

39. Perfection - Age of Ultron - Video revealed.  Region occupied by the alternate future where Ultron has completely taken over the world.  Based on the 2013 event by Brian Michael Bendis as well as sharing a title with the upcoming Avengers film, which will open just before Secret Wars begins.  Teased as Age of Ultron vs Marvel Zombies a month or so ago.

40. New Xandar - The Inifnity Gauntlet - Video revealed.  Only other region to outright be associated with cosmic Marvel.  Home of the 1991 Jim Starlin story, or some spin on it as Star Lord is featured on the new artwork.  Xandar is also notable as being the home of the Nova Corps.

* 41. The Wall - No clue what this is, but it is highly likely it could just be a literal wall.  If so, the wall is keeping the rest of Battle World from Age of Ultron, Marvel Zombies, and The Infinity Gauntlet

Classified Regions

As mentioned, we have three regions which are considered classified for the time being.  There are not any clues as to what these could be, though rumors are running rampant.  I will attempt to guess what these classified regions may be based on their location on Battle World.  Take these with a grain of salt...

6. CLASSIFIED - Sam Raimi or Marc Webb Spider-man Films - This one is probably a stretch, but lets first look at this region's location: right between Technopolis, Egyptia, Spider-Land, The Regency, and King James England.  Given that 3/5 of these regions have something to do with Spider-man, is it too farfetched to imagine that this region is the same way?  Marvel has a better relationship with Sony than 20th Century Fox, so this could be a good pair of marketing for the two.

14. CLASSIFIED - Marvel's Star Wars - 2015 is going to be a big year for Star Wars.  New comics launch from Marvel in January and the year ends with J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens.  Could Hickman have a plan to use Star Wars in Secret Wars?  Given Disney's streamlined approach to the continuity of the Extended Universe since their purchase of Lucasfilm, this could potentially be the location of Marvel's first run of Star Wars comics, which featured some wide differences from the film.  Probably not, but wouldn't that be awesome?

19. CLASSIFIED - Marvel Cinematic Universe - This is the most rumored aspect of Battle World, and could very likely be one of our Classified regions.  No idea how the MCU will fit in, or which characters will take part, but, given this region's closeness to Manhattan, The City, and The Warzone, it seems likely either Avengers or Avengers: Age of Ultron could see its cast taking part in Secret Wars.  This would definitely be something which would get people to pick up this event.

So what do you think these Classified regions could be?  Which Marvel story are YOU excited to see in Secret Wars?  Let us know in the comments below!  Also, be sure to check out SuperHeroHype for more speculation!

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