The Secret Wars were waged in, well, secrecy, across Marvel's Avengers even before the titular event kicked off the end of everything. Such is why the apocalypse came as a bit of a surprise to the rest of the Marvel U, who did their best to live out their last hours as best they could. Highlights include The Punisher mowing down a celebration of bad guy bigwigs, and Ms. Marvel finally reconciling her personal and professional lives with friends and family.
The true standout, however, came courtesy of Marvel's rising star writer Al Ewing, and artist Luke Ross, the pair behind Captain America & The Mighty Avengers.
The team was mishmash of fist-to-face heroes like Cap, Luke Cage, and the new Power Man, as well as cosmic hitters like Blue Marvel and Monica Rambeau. The final two issues of their series saw each of them raging against the darkness in the ways they knew best. Blue Marvel tried super-science, Cage and company bought civilians as many precious extra second as possible, and Monica turned herself into a living proton torpedo aimed right at the encroaching Death Star of Ultimate Earth.
None of it works, of course, and the alternate universe literally collides with mainstream Marvel continuity. As one Reed Richards is so fond of saying "Everything dies." But not before Ewing and Ross give us a wonderful, final vignette. Told in the first-person, the heart-wrenching scene sports a doctor speaking to you -- yes, you, dear reader -- about the end of everything.
The doctor explains that "you" were a member of The Mighty Avengers. Specifically a part of their civilian volunteer program, what with being a mere mortal and all. The POV character was deposited with the good doctor after being injured while rescuing a bunch of kids. The doctor, meanwhile, decided to stick around after finding an Avengers I.D. on his patient. An I.D. card that he himself also carried. D'aw.
Together, the doctor and yourself stare out at the dying planet Earth. Just as the last flash of hot death crawls across the surface our new narrator tells us that, in the end, we were all Avengers. It's at this point that the comic ends, and the tears begin.
Everyone knew this was coming. Even before Miles Morales, a.k.a. Ultimate Spider-Man, was announced as a flagship member of Marvel's new Avengers team you could have guessed that the wall-crawler would wind up in mainstream Marvel continuity. He, along with the evil Reed Richards who now styles himself as The Maker, was exactly half of what was worth keeping from Marvel's admittedly once-cool Ultimate Comics alternate universe.
Miles, along with a handful of other worthwhile heroes, survived the end of everything in a cosmic life raft only to find the Doom-controlled Battleworld not to their liking. Each of them were scattered to the four corners of reality, with Miles winding up in a realm that embodied both prime Marvel reality and the dying Ultimate U. Because of him the heroes realize Doom is no god -- at least not one they can trust -- and head off to join the forces already facing him in the final battle at his seat of power.
For his trouble Miles gets one helluva hero's welcome. His mother, who was killed by a version of Venom from his universe, is back among the living in the new and shiny post-Secret Wars reality. You could say the kid definitely earned it, too, having the most must-read Spider-Man stories on the market since his introduction.
This does, however, raise some issues of identity. Miles is Spider-Man. Not the Scarlet Spider, Agent Venom, or any number of Spider-heroes that have spun out of that lineage. Peter Parker himself -- who also still carries the Spider-Man mantle -- says as much in the final issue of Secret Wars. As far as brand blessings go that's a pretty good one.
While multiple characters donning the same title at the same time isn't new (Hawkeye and Hawkeye, for instance) this is definitely the concept at its highest profile. It'll take some doing for these characters to no doubt work together from time to time while also maintaining their own identities.
Of course, Miles is having no trouble with the second point. Even before Secret Wars began we saw the fan-favorite hero swinging under the Avengers umbrella, as one of the very first members of the rebooted team. Things have definitely changed in the Marvel U, and Miles is just one example of it happening for the better.