Spoilers ahead for Secret Wars #9.
Secret Wars #9, the finale of Marvel’s world-shattering event, has finally arrived, and it’s brought with it answers to some of the biggest lingering questions about the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe.
Perhaps the central mystery coming out of Secret Wars is the fate of the Richards family and of their arch-nemesis, Doctor Doom. Though there have been clues planted throughout the titles of the new Marvel Universe as to the whereabouts of the Fantastic Four, all tknown up until this point is that they are presumed dead by almost everyone – including, apparently, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm.
But Secret Wars #9 paints a different picture – one thematically fitting for the family that launched Marvel Comics in the early ‘60’s. Boiling the central conflict down to a throwdown between Reed Richards and Doom, Secret Wars #9 present perhaps the ultimate victory Reed could achieve over his old enemy – Doom admitting that Reed could have rebuilt the world better than he did.
As they clash in Molecule Man’s chamber, Doom is denied his ultimate power because Molecule Man wants to level the playing field. Faced with defeat at Reed’s hands, Doom is forced to admit that Reed could have remade the universe without the flaws of Battleworld.
With “everyone in agreement,” Molecule Man uses his ultimate power to do exactly that – rebuild the world in Reed’s image.
After the world is remade and Battleworld left behind, Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic go into a series of vignettes starting with a scene that echoes a scene from the first issue of New Avengers, where the incursion story first began, in which Black Panther addresses some of Wakanda’s brightest young minds.
They are interrupted by a rumbling in the Earth – but this time, rather than an incursion, it is a manned rocket launching from Wakanda’s spaceport.
We also catch a glimpse of Peter Parker and Miles Morales, with Peter setting out to train the former Ultimate hero. This is intercut with Molecule Man saying he owes Miles a favor in exchange for the hamburger Miles brought him when they met, inferring that this is the reason Miles made it to the mainstream Marvel Universe - along with his once dead mom, now back in his life.
It then goes back to the Richards family and the children of the Future Foundation, who are living in an extra-dimensional space. It’s revealed that they’re using a combination of Molecule Man and Franklin Richards’s powers to rebuild the multiverse, creating new worlds and bringing them into reality.
Reed laments having to leave Johnny and Ben on Earth, but reassures Franklin that even though they aren’t superheroes for the time being, they’re still doing good.
In the denouement, Doom steps out of his castle, removing his mask and revealing that his scarred face has been healed (as seen in Invincible Iron Man), much to his seeming delight.
This is cut with Reed’s final voiceover, which echoes the opposite sentiment of the Secret Wars tagline – “Everything lives.”
So now the Richards family are literally the new architects of the Marvel multiverse, building and bringing into existence whole realities.
It’s a fitting role for the team that launched the Marvel Universe, and it leaves the door open for a return. However, what it doesn’t explain is why the rest of the world thinks they’re dead – or what everyone thinks happened during Secret Wars. Of course, now that the series has wrapped, these questions ould eventually be answered in the pages of the “All-New, All-Different” relaunch.