Who’s Who In Secret Wars #1 – A Guide For Confused Readers


To paraphrase what’s already been said about it, now that everything else has ended, there is only Secret Wars. This year’s Marvel event is one of the biggest ever, both in terms of line-wide impact and storytelling scope.

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Issue #1 came out this week, and we liked it a lot. Still, while you could say a lot of good things about the first chapter by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, calling it an easy read for casual comics fans wouldn’t be one of them. There’s no way someone who hasn’t been reading a bunch of Marvel comics, and particularly Avengers and New Avengers, will understand exactly why the multiverse is dying — and that’s just where the story starts.

The best way to catch up is to go back and check out the “Time Runs Out” arc that ran through the aforementioned titles, and to pick up the Secret Wars Prelude TPB that Marvel wisely released right before the event kicked off. There’s simply too much history for us to recap here.

What we can do is help identify some of the characters you might not know if you only read a couple of Marvel comics a month. It’s only going to get crazier from here, so if you brush up on some of the players you don’t know now, you’ll be that much better prepared in the weeks and months to come.

Ready? Here we go …

The Beyonders

Seen first on: page 2 (as a tear in space)

In the original Secret Wars, a mysterious being who called himself the Beyonder summoned heroes, villains and Galactus from the Marvel Universe, put them on a planet he pieced together from other worlds (including Denver!) and told them that if they fought to the death, everyone on the winning side would get their heart’s desire. He seemed omnipotent, if a little naive.

We’ve since learned the reason for that: the first Beyonder was just an infant from a race of beings from beyond all known realities. The Beyonders have been conducting an experiment on the multiverse, and in a nice callback to the first Secret Wars, Dr. Doom has been mucking it up, resulting in the incursions that have been crashing one universe into another with Earth as the collision point.

They can be killed — the explosion of Starbrand in New Avengers #32 managed to take out one of them — but a whole race of them seems like a problem no one can handle. Even worse, we really don’t know their endgame yet.


Seen first on: page 6

He’s the Reed Richards of the Ultimate Universe. Like the normal Reed, he’s the smartest man alive and very stretchy. Unlike Mr. Fantastic, he’s not nearly as concerned with the well-being of others.

In fact, Ultimate Reed went full-on bad guy at one point, faking his own death, murdering his family and working with aliens. He also killed all the Asgardians, created a super-human race called the Children of Tomorrow and wiped out most of the the highest-ranking members of the American government with an anti-matter weapon. So yeah, pretty villainous.

The Maker has also done some relatively good things, like helping to defeat Galactus before he consumed the Ultimate Earth and fending off incursions by destroying alternate Earths. The key word in my first sense was “relatively.” This Reed has temporarily made an alliance with the Cabal, a group of powerful villains from the Marvel Universe led by Thanos, and has convinced his world’s Nick Fury to launch an assault on the Marvel Earth. Alas, he still has his own game going, but that’s very much in character for him.


Seen first on: page 13

First seen in Secret Warriors under his real name, Eden Fesi, Manifold is a Aboriginal Australian with the mutant ability to teleport people, similar to Gateway from late 80s/early 90s X-Men comics. He joined the Avengers back at the very beginning of Hickman’s run on the book, and he seems to be a favorite of the writer, who has used him in almost every story arc.

Not that teleportation isn’t a sweet power as it is, but later issues of “Time Runs Out” revealed that an alternate universe version of Manifold was able to bend space to the point where he actually opened up a portal to what was beyond the multiverse. In other words, Manifold has even more potential than we imagined, and he puts it to good use in Secret Wars #1 by plucking heroes onto the vessel that can survive the end of everything.

Unfortunately, it appears to cost him his life, but he’s hardly alone in this series. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him again.

That’s it for this week, but we’ll do this again for Secret Wars #2, which comes out May 13.

Next: Secret Wars Battle Report, Week 1

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