One thing is for sure, and that's that <i>Age of Ultron</i>, the last Marvel Comics event, definitely had a major and lasting impact. It dealt with time and dimensional travel, it brought Galactus to the Ultimate universe, it brought Angela to the Marvel universe, and its waves are still being felt. <p>Now, just two months after that event comic ended, a new one begins at Marvel, as <b>Infinity</b> pulls together everything Jonathan Hickman has built so far in his dual <i>Avengers</i> titles since the Marvel NOW! relaunch. <p>That seems, then, the perfect opportunity for us to look at the 10 Marvel crossover events that had the most impact on the Marvel Universe at the time (although some didn't last), as we wait for the ramifications of the latest one.
Early on in <em>The Infinity Gauntlet</em>, it seemed as if it would be the proverbial series that would change everything – half of humanity was dead! Natural disasters had altered the very world our characters lived in! – but everything was reset by series' end, with the only lasting effects that which meant that a new <em>Warlock</em> series could be spun out of the whole shebang. A masterclass in the whole "No change, just the illusion of change" thing. <p>A spiritual follow-up, <strong>Infinity</strong> promises more lasting change - while Thanos and the gems are still a part of the story, we already know the Inhumans will have major fallout due to the events of the newest event.
2011's massive event series featured developments that certainly felt big at the time, and by the final issue of the series, Bucky Cap and Thor were still dead, and Paris was a city of stone statues instead of people. <p>And then came the three epilogue issues that, one by one, undid each of those things. Cleaning up after itself or a statement on the impermanence of death in superhero comics? Potentially both (<a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/facing-fear-fear-itself-aftermath-111208.html>Fraction told Newsarama at the time</a>, "Death in superhero comics is meaningless. It's the escape. It's the resurrection. That's the story. These issues were kind of the chance to focus on that under the microscope, once all the pyrotechnics were done."), but <em>Fear Itself</em>'s very visible use of the reset button was something that made the idea of a crossover event that changes everything forever that little bit harder to take.
It's tempting to suggest that ending the then-long-running thread of "Who Do You Trust?" and "Maybe one of these characters is an alien shapeshifter" is enough to make the end of <em>Secret Invasion</em> an important event in and of itself. <p>In terms of narrative, though, the series moved Tony Stark away from the position of power that he'd been in for months, and placed everything in the hands of Norman Osborn, heralding a period where the bad guys really had won... Well, at least until they started messing everything up for themselves.
This is a tough one, because it wasn't the <em>end</em> of <em>Secret Wars</em> that changed everything, but the start – but that's what you get when the entire series is essentially a twelve-part flashback to explain away the changes already seen in everyone's regular book. <p>But still: She-Hulk in the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man's black costume that would later turn out to be Venom are two changes that may not have stuck forever, but ended up becoming surprisingly welcome additions to the canon. (Look at Marvel's current slate: She-Hulk is in <i>FF</i>, and there's a <i>Venom</i> ongoing series.) Less so, that giant dragon girlfriend for Lockheed, of course. And the less said about "Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger," the better...
Unusually, <b>Schism</b> was an event book that existed for the sole purpose of the end result: Splitting the X-Men franchise in two. And yet it worked, and in the process refreshed the franchise in a way that nothing else had managed since the days of Grant Morrison. <p>It wasn't just the clash of ideologies that surprisingly came to life, but the characters presenting those ideologies. "Wolverine as Teacher" made perfect sense, even as it seemed counter-intuitive, a sign that something has gone right. <p>The separation between teams was compounded by our <i>next</i> item, and it's telling that not only are there multiple successful ongoing books for each side, but this separation was referenced in <b>Infinity #1</b>.
Aside from the death of Charles Xavier – like we've never seen <em>that</em> before – and the criminalization of the "Phoenix Five," what exactly did <em>AVX</em> achieve for the larger MU? <p>Well, in theory it ushered in an era where the X-Men and cosmic characters were brought further into the wider Marvel Universe, which is something that may end up being a quieter, but more meaningful change to Marvel than we normally see from these event books. <p>Oh yeah, it also happened to (mostly) reverse the lasting consequences of our next item on the countdown.
"No More Mutants." With those three words, the Scarlet Witch upended the X-Men franchise in a seemingly out-of-nowhere denouement to the alternate world series, reducing the mutant population of the Marvel Universe to less than 200 and beginning a near-decade long race against extinction that finally came to an end with <em>Avengers Vs. X-Men</em>.
Mutant Massacre wasn't an event crossover in the way that we understand them today – where was the core miniseries? Why no "Mutant Massacre" banner on the covers of the tie-ins? – but it certainly had the kind of impact that something like, say, <em>Maximum Security</em> could only dream of, marking the end of the X-Men's stay at the Xavier's school for close to 100 issues, the deaths of a handful of familiar faces, new members of teams, the end of Warren Worthington as the Angel and a more somber tone for a franchise already known for its dourness.
Hey, remember that time when a crossover ended with the Marvel Universe devoid of some of its most famous characters? Now, we can look back and say that the absence of the <em>Fantastic Four</em>, <em>Avengers</em> and their respective members was only a temporary thing, but at the time that was far from a known fact, meaning that the Onslaught Saga genuinely did have that feeling of having changed everything in real ways, possibly forever. If only there had been an Internet back then*, it would've broken in half! <p>(* I know that there actually was. I am old.) <p>Onslaught has made a couple of comebacks, most recently as an altered combination of characters in the pages of <i>Uncanny Avengers</i>.
Oh, Civil War, how you changed the Marvel Universe! There was that whole "You work for the government or you're a criminal" thing, that whole "Now <em>no one</em> gets on with anyone else" thing, the skillful creation of a second <em>Avengers</em> book for the first time since <em>West Coast Avengers</em>, but more importantly, it changed the Marvel Universe by <em>changing the Marvel Universe</em>. <p>Even though <em>House of M</em>'s decimation of mutantkind came earlier, it was <em>Civil War</em> that felt as if it actually changed the tone and content of all of Marvel's line for months afterwards, setting the pattern for events that followed. If <em>Infinity</em>'s fallout can feel half as important, then they're likely onto a good thing.