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Secret Wars
Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #1 (May 1984). Cover art by Mike Zeck.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
Schedule monthly
Format Limited series
Publication date May 1984 – Apr. 1985
Number of issues 12
Main character(s) Avengers
Fantastic Four
Doctor Doom
Creative team
Writer(s) Jim Shooter
Penciller(s) Mike Zeck, Bob Layton

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, commonly known simply as Secret Wars, is a twelve-issue comic book crossover limited series published from May 1984 to April 1985 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Jim Shooter with art by Mike Zeck and Bob Layton. It was tied to the same-named toyline from Mattel.

Publication history

The series was conceived by Marvel Comics' Editor-in-chief Jim Shooter:

Kenner had licensed the DC Heroes. Mattel had He-Man, but wanted to hedge in case superheroes became the next big fad. They were interested in Marvel's characters, but only if we staged a publishing event that would get a lot of attention, and they could build a theme around. Fans, especially young fans often suggested to me "one big story with all the heroes and all the villains in it", so I proposed that. It flew. Mattel thought that kids responded well to the word "secret", so after a couple of working names bit the dust, we called the story "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars".[1]

Shooter also explained:

We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series. Mattel’s focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words “wars” and “secret.” Okay. / Mattel had a number of other requirements. Doctor Doom, they said, looked too medieval. His armor would have to be made more high-tech. So would Iron Man’s, because their focus groups indicated that kids reacted positively...etc. Okay. / They also said there had to be new fortresses, vehicles and weapons because they wanted playsets, higher price point merchandise and additional play value. Okay. / When time came to actually do it, I realized that only I could write it.[2]

Crossover titles include The Amazing Spider-Man;[3] Avengers;[4] Captain America;[5] The Incredible Hulk;[6] [[:wikipedia:Iron Man|;[7] The Thing;[8] Fantastic Four;[9] Marvel Team-Up;[10] Thor,[11] and Uncanny X-Men.[12]

A Sequel titled Secret Wars II was published from July 1985 to March 1986.

Plot summary

A cosmic entity called the Beyonder observes the mainstream Marvel universe. Fascinated by the presence of superheroes on Earth and their potential, this entity chooses a group of both heroes and supervillains and teleports characters against their will to "Battleworld", a planet created by the Beyonder in a distant galaxy. This world has also been stocked with alien weapons and technology. The Beyonder then declares: "I am from beyond! Slay your enemies and all that you desire shall be yours! Nothing you dream of is impossible for me to accomplish!"[13]

The heroes include the Avengers (Captain America, Captain Marvel II, Hawkeye, Iron Man II, She-Hulk, Thor, the Wasp); three members of the Fantastic Four (Human Torch, Mister Fantastic and Thing); solo heroes Spider-Man, Spider-Woman II and the Hulk; and the mutant team X-Men (Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine and Lockheed the Dragon). Magneto is featured as a hero, but immediately becomes non-aligned when the Avengers question his presence.

The villains include the Absorbing Man, Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, the Enchantress, Kang the Conqueror, Klaw, the Lizard, Molecule Man, Titania, Ultron, Volcana, and the Wrecking Crew. The cosmic entity Galactus also appears as a villain who immediately becomes a non-aligned entity.

The heroes (the X-Men choose to remain a separate unit) and villains have several skirmishes. There are several significant developments in the series: villainesses Titania and Volcana are created;[14] the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter, is introduced;[15] Spider-Man finds and wears the black costume for the first time, initially unaware that it is actually an alien symbiote (the symbiote would subsequently bond with journalist Eddie Brock, giving birth to the villain known as Venom);[16][17] Doctor Doom temporarily steals the Beyonder's power;[18] having fallen in love with the alien healer Zsaji (who sacrifices her life on Battleworld to save the heroes), mutant Colossus ends his romantic relationship with a heartbroken Kitty Pryde;[19] and the Thing chooses to remain behind on Battleworld and explores the galaxy for a year,[20] with She-Hulk temporarily joining the Fantastic Four as his replacement.[21]

Years later, it was revealed that—while the heroes and villains fought on Battleworld—the Thing's girlfriend Alicia Masters was replaced by Lyja, a Skrull spy.[22] When the Fantastic Four returned to Earth without the Thing, she began a relationship with the Human Torch. The two eventually married,[23] and remained a happy couple until the Skrull's true identity was exposed by the Thing and the Puppet Master.[24]

Spider-Man and the Secret Wars

In 2010, a mini-series titled Spider-Man and the Secret Wars was released. It tells the story from Spider-Man's perspective and features previously untold tales from the event. These tales include him receiving the Beyonder's power and creating "New Parker City", Spider-Man and the Thing spying on Dr. Doom and a story featuring Spider-Man's suspicions concerning the Hulk.

Other versions

What If?

There had been some issues of What If that revolved around the Secret Wars:

  • "Brave New World" by Jay Faerber and Gregg Schigiel explored what would happen if the heroes became stranded on Battleworld,[25] after Galactus and Beyonder destroy each other in battle. The battle continues for a while, but after the deaths of Bulldozer, Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Doctor Octopus, Kang, Magneto, and Spider-Woman, both sides declare peace. Hulk heads into the wilderness to find a way to get everyone back home, while Doctor Doom builds a replica of his Latverian Castle. The Enchantress disappears, Mister Fantastic somehow dies, and Spider-Man's black suit causes him to turn cold and accelerates his aging to the point of becoming a skeleton. Eventually some of the inhabitants have children who inherit some of their powers; Bravado is the son of Thor and Enchantress, Chokehold is the daughter of Absorbing Man and Titania, Crusader is the daughter of Captain America and Rogue (although Rogue's body is now dominated by the personality of Ms. Marvel), Firefly is the son of Human Torch and Wasp, Gator is the son of Lizard, Malefactor is the son of Doctor Doom and Enchantress, Moleculon is the son of Molecule Man and Volcana, Mustang is the son of Hawkeye and She-Hulk, Raze is the son of Wrecker, and Torrent is the daughter of Wolverine and Storm. By Bravado's 18th birthday, Malefactor disposes of his father and gathers Chokehold, Gator, Klaw, Moleculon, and Raze in a plot to take over Battleworld. Bravado, Crusader, Firefly, Mustang, Torrent, and the heroes and reformed villains defeat them. Hulk and Doctor Doom (who faked his death when Malefactor attacked him) return to help end the conflict. Hulk has used 30th Century technology from the deceased Kang to create a portal that will take everyone home with the help of Thor's hammer. Uatu soon appears and warns them of the bad thing that will happen if they return to Earth. Though the adults call off the trip, the younger heroes sneak out at night and end up on Earth which is overrun with Sentinels. The five agree to stay on Earth as the Avengers and liberate Earth.[25] On a related note, these five had appeared in the Destiny War storyline.
  • In another alternate universe, Doctor Doom retains the Beyonder's power and takes over the universe.[26]

In other media


  • An abbreviated form of the Secret Wars storyline appeared in the Animated Television series Spider-Man, where the Beyonder and Madame Web selected Spider-Man to lead a team of heroes (consisting of himself, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Black Cat, [[:wikipedia:Iron Man| and Storm) against the villains Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Alistair Smythe, and Red Skull. The goal was allegedly to determine whether good or evil were stronger, but it was revealed after the war to have been carried out to determine which of several alternate Spider-Men was worthy to lead a team to save the universe. One completely written chapter of "Secret Wars" involved Spider-Man finding another black suit and the X-Men, but transporting the X-Men cast to L.A. (where production for the Spider-Man animated series was based) from Canada (where the X-Men animated series was based) was too costly in the previous episodes the X-Men appeared in, so the episode was dropped and only Storm was used for the rest of the chapters of Secret Wars due to the fact that Iona Morris (who was the first voice of Storm) lives in L.A.[27][28] Hulk and She-Hulk were not used in these episodes because the Hulk show was on UPN.[27][28] Furthermore, Quinton Flynn was the only voice actor to reprise his role from the Fantastic Four animated series.[28]


  • Mattel released three waves of action figures, vehicles and accessories in the Secret Wars toyline from 1984 to 1985.


A year later, Secret Wars II was published, with the Beyonder visiting Earth and having a tie-in with every single Marvel comic book at the time.


  1. "Lofty Concepts". Archived from the original on 2004-08-13. 
  2. Shooter, Jim (April 4, 2011). "Secrets of the Secret Wars". 
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man #249–252 (Feb.–May 1984)
  4. Avengers #242–243 (March–Apr. 1984)
  5. Captain America #292 (Apr. 1984)
  6. Hulk #294–295 (Apr.–May 1984)
  7. Iron Man #181–182 (Apr.–May 1984)
  8. The Thing #10 (Apr. 1984)
  9. Fantastic Four #265 (Apr. 1984)
  10. Marvel Team-Up #140–141 (May 1984)
  11. Thor #383 (Sep. 1987)
  12. Uncanny X-Men #178–181 (Feb.–May 1984)
  13. Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #1 (May 1984)
  14. Secret Wars #3 (July 1984)
  15. Secret Wars #6 (Oct. 1984)
  16. Secret Wars #8 (Dec. 1984)
  17. Amazing Spider-Man #298-300 (Mar.-May 1988)
  18. Secret Wars #10 (Feb. 1985)
  19. Uncanny X-Men #183 (July 1984)
  20. Secret Wars #12 (April 1985)
  21. Avengers #243 (May 1984); Fantastic Four #265 (Apr. 1984)
  22. The kidnapping and replacement of Alicia Masters occurred between the events of The Thing #10 and Fantastic Four #265 (Apr. 1984).
  23. Fantastic Four #300 (Mar. 1987)
  24. Fantastic Four #357–358 (Oct.–Nov. 1991)
  25. 25.0 25.1 What If...? #114 (vol. 2, Nov. 1998)
  26. What If...? vol. 7 Secret Wars (February 2009)
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Interview with John Semper". wariocompany. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 "Secret Wars, Part 1: Arrival". wariocompany. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 

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