Hello and welcome to Comic Island! My name is Arden, and this is our Top 10 Secret Wars Tie-Ins!
So a viewer did suggest we make this video, but I’ve been thinking about doing this one for a while. Secret Wars, Marvel’s big 2015 event, has been a lot of fun. It’s had it’s ups, it’s had it’s downs, but on the whole I’ve had a lot of fun with a big new setting and a enjoyed a serious foray into some pretty imaginative multiversal content. And wow, did some writers really take advantage of this and created some truly creative and vivid tie-ins.
Just to be clear, I considered every tie-in to this event, excluding the core series because, well, that’s not a tie-in. So sit back, relax, and prepare for what became a pretty surprising ranking as we go through my all time favorite Secret Wars tie-ins.
Yeah, so it’s pretty clear that both Joey and I are big fans of Spider-Man. And as fans, Renew Your Vows was practically a love letter for all of us and anyone else who was reading Spider-Man comics back before… ugh, that story happened. You know, the one that the judge ordered me not to talk about anymore?
Renew Your Vows isn’t the best Secret Wars tie-in or one of the best Spider-Man comics out there, but it represents one of the best in Spider-Man comics in recent memory, featured a lot of touching and epic moments while still remaining grounding and fun at times, and on the whole, worked at pretty much every level. For more on this, you can check out my earlier videos on this tie-in, but suffice to say, Renew Your Vows was something special for Spider-Man fans everywhere.
Siege is a rather central tie-in in Secret Wars, largely focusing on Abigail Brand, head of the team tasked with defending the wall, the only protection in Battleworld against the Annihilation Wave, Ultron, and the Marvel Zombies. And while this story could have been tone-deaf, trashy action, or just plain boring, Siege winds up telling a vivid story that not only ties-in to the central Secret Wars story well, and in my opinion better than any other Secret Wars comic other than the core series itself, but also a story with an emotional character arc for Abigail and some of the best action in the entire event as a whole.
Appropriately, this is the best depiction of the Wall in the entire Secret Wars, and we get pages and pages of creative, awesome splash pages that shows the unending and exhausting life that people on the wall lead, defending it from the various would-be conquerors. It has few flaws, but one of them is that its characters are just too interesting for their own good. Kang the Conqueror is great in this. The 1602 version of Kate Bishop is great in this. And Scott Summers, well, this version of Scott is actually part of a huge series of clones from Bar Sinister, and that makes for one of the most different and cool takes on the character I have ever seen. The problem is that the focus of the story is on Brand. And while that’s fine on it’s own, this supporting cast is too cool for the sidelines, and I wind up finishing this story with a desire for more. I would have loved to have seen more of these other characters and their lives and thoughts. We only get a peek and glimpses of their lives, and it would have been great to go further into things with a bit more detail.
Of course, with five issues, the tie-ins can only do so much. And a tie-in whose only major flaw is that it feels too short and leaves you wanting more of it… well, that’s a very good tie-in overall.
I must confess I’ve never been that big a fan of Marvel Zombies. It is not the worst story in the world, but it’s very hit and miss. There are comics featuring them that I like and ones that I really don’t. So considering that Marvel went full tilt with the zombies in Secret Wars, I was… trepidatious to say the least. Sure enough a lot of the Marvel Zombies stories have felt… lackluster, to put it politely, and I was reluctant to try out Marvel Zombies after already getting my fill of this stuff with A-Force, the core series, Old Man Logan, and especially Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies. So I was really impressed when Marvel Zombies, the tie-in without Age of Ultron or involving any of the other story lines, wound up being not only one of my favorite Marvel Zombies stories, but one of my favorite Secret Wars tie-ins in general.
This is a great story overall featuring Elsa Bloodstone, an officer of the Wall, being inadvertently pulled into the Deadlands and forced to survive in a world where well, nothing does. It is very well drawn and has a lot of fun with the whole Bloodstone line but doesn’t expect you to know anything about this story before reading it. That being said, the comic does dole out minor references here and there if you are familiar with the Bloodstone stuff and that pays off too. This is a fantastic read and one I really liked. It’s a quirky story in the world of Marvel Zombies, one that stands in contrast to many of the other stories concerning the Deadlands, and on the whole working in a way that I found really compelling.
The only thing that prevents it from rising to the very top of this list is that there isn’t much point to this story. It’s a character building walk through the Deadlands, without much else to say or show other than Elsa learning to confront her past and embrace a new future. It’s a surprisingly optimistic story, in that sense, but also one that’s still as edgy and dark as something featuring zombies should be. It’s a neat line this story walks, and one that is definitely worth checking out.
Well, Old Man Logan has to be one of the better Secret Wars tie-ins. I’ve talked all about this one on my earlier videos concerning this story, so let’s just fantastic. The road trip aspect of this story serves to showcase an eclectic blend of various domains in Battleworld, buoyed by some of the best art in Secret Wars as a whole. Vivid, intense, and epic, Old Man Logan proved to be a worthy successor to the story it was based on, and I might have even enjoyed it just about as much as I did the original Old Man Logan story.
That’s a rather impressive feat, and the only reason it isn’t a stronger tie-in is due to some lackluster choices with the comic’s ending. Once again, Logan is presented as the wisest and most important mutant in all of Marvel, because, I don’t know, he’s popular? I like this character but he works well as a gritty, imperfect role model, haunted by his past and extended lifespan. I do not like him when he’s Jesus with claws. No offense to Jesus, I just assumed we were trying to tell a different story here. Still, Bendis on the whole does remarkable work with this story and presents Old Man Logan in an exciting, fun way. It’s one of the best that Secret Wars has to offer.
You know, I have my concerns, to say the least, that comics from Marvel are increasingly reflecting their to-do list for the Cinematic Universe. Dr. Strange? Check. Captain Marvel? Check. Thanos? Check like, fifty billion times by now. And with that comes the Inhumans, a group ever more involved with the Marvel comics and being pushed like there is no tomorrow. The idea, I suppose, is that the company is trying to win us over as historically, if they get us as comic book fans hooked, they can get the movie going audience as a whole.
But I can’t say I’ve ever truly been a fan of the Inhumans. It was cool when they were this weird niche of the Marvel Universe, constantly in the peripheral but never on the level of say, the X-Men. So with Marvel attempting to replace the Inhumans as the new equivalent of the mutants, well, as a fan of the X-Men, I’m going to put up some resistance. Especially considering that as entertaining as the Inhumans can be, they really just don’t hold a candle to the X-Men at this point.
That being said, Inhumans: Attilan Rising is a testament that I really need to not let these feelings stop me from enjoying a good comic. Featuring Medusa as Baroness of Attilan, this story tells of her attempting to quell rogue agents hiding among her people. In doing so, she gradually unravels a conspiracy concerning several members of many different domains working to undermine the authority of the all-powerful Dr. Doom.
It’s a fairly standard story, at least in Secret Wars terms. Many of the other tie-ins feature some party or group trying to undermine or subvert Doom’s authority. Where Inhumans stands out is its ending, which I won’t give away here but was quite clever and great. Let’s just say it really presents Doom himself in a rather interesting light, while also giving us something thoughtful concerning both Black Bolt and Medusa. That makes for a great tie-in, as it tells us more about the characters in this story while also giving us a little more nuance to one of the biggest, central figures in the entire Secret Wars.
But it’s not just a good ending. Inhumans is well drawn, well written, and features a host of cool characters. It’s greatest strength is the way that writer Charles Soule manages to weave together so many different ideas and domains into one story without breaking any of the fluidity in the narrative. We have characters and ideas show up from Greenland, Dystopia, Ghost Racers, and the Warzone all in one story and it never feels clunky or forced. It’s masterful, and, coupled with that clever ending, winds up being one of my all-time favorite Secret Wars tie-ins.
In my opinion, Soule is the primary factor in deciding why this comic works. This guy is one of Marvel’s greatest current assets in their writing talent pool. I have yet to read a story penned by Charles Soule that I have not enjoyed, a fact that I can attribute to very few other comic book writers. Everything he touches turns to gold, from the Red Lanterns to the Thunderbolts to his short but memorable run with She-Hulk, and this won’t be the only tie-in he wrote that makes it onto this list. But we’ll talk more about that in a bit.
I have to stop referring to these entries as surprising. Practically every tie-in from here on out was an unexpected treat, and the two issue run of Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders is no exception. This is a story taking full use of it’s alternate universe setting to give us a full roster of cool, and kind of new characters. First we have Ho Yinsen, the doctor who helped Iron Man in Tony’s origin story, you know, the other guy in the cave? But in this world, Yinsen survived and Tony died in that cave long ago. So the good doctor took up the mantle of Rescue and created a similar power armor for his daughter. Yinsen is baron to his own domain, a peaceful city that is threatened by a neighboring domain called Mondo City, heavily inspired by Judge Dredd.
Helping Yinsen are the mighty defenders – We have White Tiger, who is more or less the same as her mainstream counterpart, Faiza Hussain, who became Captain Britain after it is implied that the 616 Captain Britain bestowed this on her, The Prowler, who became inspired by Spider-Man after an alternate Peter Parker died heroically, and She-Hulk, who is this domain’s Thor.
Now I’ve just rattled off about six different ideas and characters that sound awesome, and all of this weaves together into a rather impressive story. Al Ewing wrote this piece, and you can see that his time writing for Judge Dredd really inspired this comic. Coupled with a lot of cool characters and some excellent storytelling, Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders is my sixth favorite tie-in. The only reason this one is not higher is that at two issues long I do feel a little short changed. The couple of comics we get out of this are good and don’t feel rushed but I do wish they could have expanded on things a bit. Now while I can hope they continue this idea somehow, I doubt they will be able to, and at the end of the day, I’m left looking back to some of Ewing’s past work and looking forward to other content this man creates. In spite of feeling a bit short, this is one tie-in you don’t want to miss.
So I can’t say I expected much out of 1872. Sure, it was neat to feature new content among the domains, and, to be honest, it would have been a good idea to do this even more here and there to push the creative boundaries of the multiverse idea even more than they actually did. But the whole idea of a Western version of Marvel felt a bit… off to me. They’ve done this idea of Marvel heroes in different time periods, like with 1602 or Feudal Japan. Usually this works well, but it felt like this wouldn’t be something new to offer. I was worried we’d have the same old Marvel characters just in different costumes, or an overcompensating writer who inserts way too many references to cultural norms and western tropes.
And while there is a lot of the… period writing, we’ll call it, particularly with stuff concerning woman’s rights, treatment of indigenous populations, and the civil war, to the extent these references feel forced and out of place, 1872 actually does a really good job showing a Marvel universe in a new and different way. Featuring Sheriff Steve Rogers of the town of Timely, this story deals with his feud against the owner of the local casino, Wilson Fisk. From there, the story goes on to develop a robust cast of heroes all who represent familiar faces but in really creative ways relative to the time period. Tony Stark is great as a sort of washed up, steam-punk themed inventor. Bucky Barnes is Steve’s late deputy, killed before the beginning of the story over standing up for what is right. And Natasha was Bucky’s wife, making her, well, a widow. Get it?
And what really works is these characters go through a real, thoroughly emotional arc throughout this story. It has drama, real stakes, and the sense of a complete, engrossing story. All told, 1872 tells not only a great story, not only has a lot of great art, and not only presents a lot of cool characters old and new, it sets up a series so well that I will be really interested in checking. It has a lot to offer, even if you aren’t a fan of Westerns. I recommend you check it out for yourself.
So remember when I was saying how great Charles Soule is, and how we’ll talk more about him in a bit? Well, here we are. Soule’s Civil War is a bit of an earth-shattering tie-in, and is one of the absolute best Secret Wars titles out there.
Which is pretty amazing when you consider what a freaking quagmire this comic could have been. Here we have a spiritual sequel to one of the most controversial of Marvel’s big crossover events, in an even bigger event that already has worked up a huge portion of the fan base. To say Civil War is contested among Marvel fans is an understatement. People like me value that story, but others have legitimate complaints about it and I’d be lying if I said it was the best story ever.
Ah well, in spite of all this nonsense, Charles Soule not only manages to tell a new story with a rather fresh take on the original Civil War, while also preserving and showing a rather intimate knowledge and understanding of the original story as well. He does such a good job I honestly think it’s a better comic than the original Civil War.
Keep in mind that I do like the first Civil War to begin with. I’m not one of the fans who is against it and on the whole the premise and story mostly worked for me. I’ve gone on the record and defended this in earlier videos, but, I have to admit, the Secret Wars’ Civil War winds up telling a better, more polished story. For example, the biggest problem of the first Civil War is that by about halfway through the comic Iron Man becomes almost villainous and impossible to relate to, but here, I get where Iron Man is coming from. I understand Tony’s motivations and behavior, even if I don’t always agree with him. The story, by the way, is that the Civil War tie-in basically gives an alternate ending to the original comic, where the confrontation in Prison 42 leads to a massive explosion in the Warzone that divides the domain into two factions – the Iron and the Blue. On one side, registration is mandatory but their is peace and ample access to resources. On the other, the people are free and locally governed but those who abuse others are dealt with harshly by Captain America’s forces, or, when pushed, his Punishers. So both Tony and Steve exist more in a gray area, and that makes the whole point of the Civil War much more tantalizing. Now I can have stakes in both sides, and the story allows us to follow it with a far greater sense of emotional investment. So we get pulled in all the way to the ending, which I won’t give away but I found not only to be quite touching but also pretty clever knowing what happened in the mainstream universe after the first Civil War. By the time we get to this point, it pays off magnificently. Seriously, if you read that original Civil War, whether or not you liked it, you should pick up this tie-in. In my opinion, it is totally work your time.
Soule tells a story that in five simple issues winds up feeling like a complete, epic tale, all on its own, to the extent that I feel Civil War is more compelling and cohesive than either the original Civil War or even the core series of Secret Wars itself. Make no mistake, this is a good comic. It’s one of the best, and, to me, is yet another example of why I think Soule is one of Marvel’s best ongoing writers. I love this guy, and truly enjoy reading this man’s comics. You should check him out for yourself.
Yay. This was, for a long time, my absolute favorite tie-in. MODOK Assassin takes place in the domain of Killville, a city surrounded by hostile territories and internally conquered by villains. The heroes are dead, Baron Mordo rules as well, the baron, and MODOK serves as a rogue, feared assassin, defending the cities’ boundaries out of apparent boredom until one day he has a chance encounter with Angela, a Thor, and immediately falls in love with her.
And from there, a brilliant, fun, and quirky story emerges. I discovered this tie-in early on and quickly fell in love with it. It’s a nice mix of good humor, fun art, and a great story that has decent stakes and a polished sense of direction. Me and my buddy have long contended that MODOK is one of Marvel’s better villains. My friend, who you may have seen crop up in a few of my videos by now, has long insisted that he will not be satisfied until this villain is realistically depicted on the big screen in his full, glorious form, if for no other reason than to explode the collective heads of snobby film critics and those who are unaware of the glory that is MODOK. This series is a great piece to show us why I do think that this guy would actually work as a movie villain and why this character operates so well as a villain in general.
MODOK has a lot of great moments in this story. He’s the absolute star here, and his internal monologue and dialogue all serves to depict a complicated, fun, and outright murderous character that I truly adore. He also has this amazing, complicated, and quirky relationship with Angela that really stood out. I’d be… reluctant to call it a romance, but whatever it is, I enjoyed every single moment featuring these two together. The whole thing works so well that I was pretty sure this was going to be my number one title for the longest time, until I read the number one tie-in, which, in my opinion, is the absolute best that Secret Wars has to offer. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
In spite of all the nice things I’ve said about Soule, Aaron really gives the man a run for his money. This is a great writer who has done some excellent work in the past. Not all of it has been great, but overall he’s done a phenomenal job with titles like Thor: God of Thunder, Wolverine and the X-Men, and Ghost Rider, to name a few.
But here… Weirdworld is truly, in my opinion, the best thing to come out of Secret Wars. Better than any of the other tie-ins, and even more enjoyable than the core series itself. This is a brilliant story. Taking place in the self-named Weirdworld, this story features a man named Arkon, a barbarian king who has lost his home and travels the ever-shifting landscape of this domain in an effort to find his way back to his people. Inadvertently running afoul of Baroness Morgan Le Fay, the story spirals out into a big epic featuring all sorts of interesting characters, old and new.
I honestly don’t know what I can say about this one. Everything kind of clicks for me. This story featuring something wildly new and entertaining. The title starts out slow but not to an annoying pace. It’s all to serve as careful buildup to an epic, brilliant ending and a nice set-up to this story continuing post-Secret Wars. Yeah, it doesn’t have Wolverine, Captain America, or Spider-Man in it. Who cares? This is one of the best comics I have read in some time. Check this story out. I doubt you will be disappointed if you give it a chance, because it is absolutely brilliant. I loved everything about Weirdworld, and it winds up easily taking the number one spot for my favorite Secret Wars tie-ins.
And that’s it. I hope you guys liked this list. It was certainly fun to talk about some of the best of Secret Wars. And I’ve got to say, it’s given me a better opinion of this event on the whole. Sure, there are a lot of tie-ins that simply don’t work or were… disappointing to say the least. But it is hard to be upset at this when we have excellent comics coming out like the fifteen I shared here. What were your favorite tie-ins? Feel free to share them in the comments section below, and don’t forget to like, subscribe, and keep reading comics.