BREVOORT: SECRET WARS' Aftermath & The Pizza Analogy

Panel from "Secret Wars #9"
Credit: Esad Ribic / Ive Scorcina (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Marvel Comics

Secret Wars is over, but may questions still remain -- including what exactly did Miles Morales get in exchange for the hamburger given to Molecule Man?

All that and more was asked -- and answered -- by Newsarama in the second part of our interview with Tom Brevoort, Marvel's Senior Vice President of Publishing and long-time event editor. While the first part of our interview covered the Secret Wars #9 finale and the fate of the Richards family, this second half delved into the aftermath inside "All-New All-Different" Marvel.

And one of the things we learned is that there's more than one bit of foodie trivia for Secret Wars: the pizza analogy.

Interested? Read on.

Newsarama: Tom, when we left off, we were talking about the Fantastic Four, and their fate at the end of Secret Wars #9. While the finale answered many of the questions raised so far in the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe, there are still mysteries to be solved. What is the general perception when it comes to the Fantastic Four, and what does the rest of the Marvel Universe think happened during Secret Wars? Is that something we’ll see addressed, and if so, can you say where and when it’ll come up?

Credit: Esad Ribic / Ive Scorcina (Marvel Comics)

Tom Brevoort: I’m sure here or there we’ll deal with some of it. But part of the reason for the 8-month gap is so that every comic didn’t have to be about all of the bookkeeping of the aftermath of Secret Wars. Generally speaking, and we’ve seen seeds of this in the books that have come out already, the people of the Marvel Universe and the other heroes believe that there was a cosmic incursion, and the world and the universe were saved at the cost of the lives of Reed Richards and his family. It’s that simple.

As far as Ben and Johnny know, everybody’s dead. As far as everyone on Earth knows, those characters are all dead and gone. And this is why there are memorials in the Baxter Building, and this is why college students at M.I.T. are hoping that Reed’s final papers are published posthumously.

We as readers know that’s not the case, but the characters don’t. And that kind of allows them to move ahead and go on with their lives and not have every story be, “Hey, we should really get out there and bring back the Fantastic Four!”

Nrama: Speaking of that eight month gap, was there ever any thought given to doing a project to fill in that gap? Or is that something that will happen more organically in the individual titles?

Brevoort: I think in most cases it will happen in the individual titles. And the stuff that happened in that gap will unfold there as ongoing mysteries and changes that will be revealed over time.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Certainly in the Inhumans books and the X-Men books, we’re gonna be revealing what it was that happened to create this sort of “cold war” situation between mutants and Inhumans. In the Daredevil book, over time, we’re gonna reveal what it was that happened to allow Matt Murdock to have his secret identity back again, and be back as a practicing lawyer.

All of the titles will deal with whatever their individual business is on a timeline that is best for those particular stories.

And some books, like Astonishing Ant-Man, are doing stories that are set during that period. In the present, Scott Lang is in prison, and we’re seeing stories in the last couple issues that take place some time during that eight-month gap, before he was incarcerated, and slowly unveiling what happened to get him put in prison.

So each title will deal with filling in whatever their thing is on their own schedule. And that would have been the case had Secret Wars #9 come out in October as it was originally intended.

That eight month gap was partly there to get us past the problematic nonsense of every book suddenly having to be about Secret Wars for an issue or two, and also to give us the advantage of coming back to an “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe that actually looked and felt different than the universe we left behind.

We wanted the new launches to be able to start with a status quo and a situation already established and then slowly reveal the backstory that got you to that place rather than having to go through all those events linearly.

Nrama: Speaking of the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Universe, you mentioned some of the mysteries that are prevalent right now. Knowing what we now know about the Richards family rebuilding the multiverse – or what some writers are calling the “omniverse” – are some of the changes we’re seeing like the death of the Kree,  the effect of the Terrigen Mists on mutants, are those things intentional aspects of the world they rebuilt, or are they incidental to the world being reformed?

Credit: Chris Sprouse (Marvel Comics)

Brevoort: I think in most cases it is incidental. The work on the Marvel Universe is done. It’s done by the last pages of Secret Wars #9. Work on all of the other universes is not done, and that’s the work that the Future Foundation and the family are undertaking. Some of it’s done.

There are certainly enough realities there that the Web Warriors can go to Spider-Gwen’s Earth-65, so clearly that one has been rebuilt and put back by now, but others have not, and new ones have not yet been born. The things that have happened or changed happened in that reformation period, Miles Morales being the one that was most concretely in Secret Wars #9, and being the biggest piece that was added to the puzzle.

But there were also other elements. We saw in Thors #4 that, after the new Marvel Universe was created, at a certain point out of a wormhole or a portal, the hammer of Ultimate Thor came crashing down on the moon, where presumably we’ll see it again, most likely in the page of The Mighty Thor.

We’ve seen a couple of those. Ultimate Reed Richards has been running around with W.H.I.S.P.E.R. in New Avengers. How did he get there? Well, clearly he survived these events in some way, shape, or form, and that story, the wheres and hows of it, what he’s doing now, and why he still talks in uppercase and lowercase balloons when everybody else in the book talks all uppercase is all stuff that will come out in the course of those New Avengers stories.

But the work that was done, the machination of putting the Marvel Universe back together, that was all done in Secret Wars #9, and I don’t think you can blame Reed for Ultimate Thor’s hammer showing up on the moon. It’s the next story that happens. It’s a thing that comes at the fault of these things that are going on. It’s not like he and Franklin and Molecule Man sat down and said, “You know what? Put the hammer over there.”

Nrama: One thing that did seem to be intentional, that you also mentioned, is the placement of Miles Morales into the Prime Earth, as we’re now calling the main Marvel Universe.

Brevoort: Technically, we’re just calling it “The Marvel Universe.” We call it the “Prime Earth” in Secret Wars because we had to call it something and we didn’t want to have a number. We really wanted to retire “616”, despite [editor] Jordan White’s protestations.

We’ll have all the readers of Web Warriors showing up going, “But, but, but, in issue 1 there’s a locator that says ‘616’!” And yeah, you can decide which one you want to believe – Secret Wars, or Web Warriors. Web Warriors #1 came out before Secret Wars #9 – I wouldn’t have let them put a locator that said “Prime Earth” because we weren’t there yet.

But really, it’s just the Marvel Universe.

Credit: Esad Ribic / Ive Scorcina (Marvel Comics)

Nrama: Going back to the placement of Miles Morales in the Marvel Universe, there’s a scene in Secret Wars #9 where Owen Reece says “I owe you one kid,” because he gave him the hamburger in an earlier issue. But there’s a slight debate about whether Owen’s payback was allowing Miles to exist in the Marvel Universe, or by restoring his mother to life, or a combination of those things, kind of just resetting his status quo in the Marvel Universe.

Brevoort: It’s really both. And it goes even beyond his mom. Not only is she there, his dad is there, Ganke is there, Bombshell is there. We’ll see more of this as the new Miles Spider-Man book comes out, but basically Miles Morales’s life has been transplanted into the Marvel Universe.

The analogy that we used back when we were first describing this to creators, [Editor-In-Chief] Axel Alonso in particular may have even coined this analogy, is that it’s like a pizza. The Marvel Universe is a pizza and it gets blown up, and then you wind up with a pizza that’s got slices from all these other different universes, all these other different pies, so it’s got all these crazy toppings on it. And after Secret Wars ends, you’ve put the pizza back together, but some of those strange toppings are still on the pizza. So Miles is kind of a topping from another pie that is now part of this pie.

And that is definitely a thing that happened by the Molecule Man’s intent, and by his intercession as part of that process. So Miles gave him an offering and received a boon. And now, at least in Secret Wars and in All-New, All-Different Avengers, talks in all uppercase letters.

Credit: Esad Ribic / Ive Scorcina (Marvel Comics)

Nrama: That seems to be a thing, uppercase versus lowercase letters in speech balloons.

Brevoort: It kind of mattered in Secret Wars, but it doesn’t necessarily everywhere else. Ms. Marvel, for example, speaks upper and lowercase in Ms. Marvel, but speaks all uppercase in All-New All-Different Avengers. But when we were doing Secret Wars and all the lead up stuff, one of the differences between the Ultimate Universe and the Marvel Universe books is that the Ultimate books were all upper and lowercase. And so, to sort of distinguish between the two, the Ultimate characters all speak in upper and lowercase letters, and the Marvel Universe characters speak in all uppercase letters.

You can see that all through Secret Wars. Moving ahead, different books will pick what aesthetically works best for them. It’s really only significant in the context of Secret Wars proper, and the lead up to Secret Wars.

Nrama: Moving to something kind of tangential to Secret Wars; the day before Secret Wars #9 hit, Marvel released a teaser that simply said “Dead No More.” So given the proximity of that teaser to Secret Wars, would it be reasonable to draw the conclusion that there’s a connection between those things?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Brevoort: There is no connection between that teaser and Secret Wars. That’s about something about that I cannot tell you about. “Dead No More,” that’s the tease. You can speculate on what that means, but that’s not Secret Wars business. That’s a completely different thing.

I’m gonna say this, and it’s gonna sound more obvious and more derisive than I mean it to, but we don’t do teasers after the story is done. We give them before the story comes out. And granted, things could have come out of Secret Wars that could be these things, but these are all teasers for all of the stuff that’s coming. There will likely be more teasers as the weeks go on.

Nrama: Continuing the thread of what’s coming after Secret Wars

Brevoort: Secret Wars 2!

Nrama: [Laughs] Wouldn’t it be Secret Wars 4 at this point?

Brevoort: We’re just gonna call it Secret Wars 1 again. That’s the best number. Secret Wars 1! We’re relaunching it!

Nrama: The Secret Wars reboot of the reboot.

Brevoort: That’s it.

Nrama: Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic turned in some serious career-making work throughout Secret Wars. Secret Wars #9 alone was gorgeous. Do they have any more upcoming projects at Marvel, together or apart, that we can look forward to in the future?

Art from 'Secret Wars #9'
Art from 'Secret Wars #9'
Credit: Marvel Comics

Brevoort: Yes, although I don’t know how far in the future they’re gonna be. Jonathan’s been pretty upfront about putting a lot of his creator-owned work on hold to get Secret Wars finished, and he needs to kind of detox and get things back into place. But we’re already talking with him about what the next thing he would do at Marvel is, and I’m confident that there will be such a thing, and it will show up probably sooner than you might expect.

The same kind of thing is true of Esad. Esad just put the finishing touches on a massive piece of work, I think as long as a sustained project from him as he’s ever done at Marvel. He may have done more issues of Thor, but there were gaps in there that other artists did. He’s got more projects as well, including another creator-owned thing. But he too will also be in the mix here, and I figure we’ll see him sooner that Jonathan because he’ll do covers or he’ll do shorter pieces that are easier to do around the other things he’s doing.

But again, nothing I’m ready to announce – unless they’re working on “Dead No More…” That could be the two of them right there. Or that could have nothing to do with Jonathan or Esad.

Nrama: Now that Secret Wars has wrapped, where does Marvel go next? We’ve got Civil War II on the horizon – after that, is the Marvel event machine going to roll on, or after reviving your two biggest events ever, is there going to be kind of a step back from that world-oriented storytelling to reset the palate, or is there more in the works that will keep driving that machine forward?

Brevoort: Again, I think we’re gonna make that determination on a rolling basis based on the response of the audience, and the response of the marketplace. The older fan who’s been through this every time says, “I’m so sick of these. When will they stop doing these?” And then they go to their shop and they buy the comic.

What we base our storytelling decisions on and our publishing decisions on are what people do, not what they say. So, as long as we live in a world where the biggest and best selling things – and if Secret Wars proved nothing else, it proved that if you do one of these, and you do it well, people will like it, and they’ll be happy, at least for most of it. Until you’re late, and then they’re unhappy that you’re not there. But they will enjoy it just like anything else. So it’s not that events or universe- wide stories are a problem. Our audience tends to like that, tends to want that. They tend to crave stories that seem to “matter,” that have an impact on the universe.

Art from 'Secret Wars #9'
Art from 'Secret Wars #9'
Credit: Marvel Comics

And the books that tend to taper off and die the fastest are the books that are just telling their stories off to the side, even if those stories are excellent, even if there are smaller coteries of fans that particularly love the flavor of those books. So we’ll continue to have events.

Like you said, we’ve already announced that we’re doing Civil War II, and in Avengers, we’re doing the Standoff crossover before that, and I’m sure there will be more. How much, how often, and whether we switch more to a model where nothing big happens in the Marvel Universe, completely depends on how the audience reacts and responds.

If those smaller books become the ones that sell and that people respond to, we’ll do more of that. We’re fairly democratic in terms of at least the broad strokes of what we do. If people like All-New Hawkeye and buy All-New Hawkeye, we’ll attempt to do more things like All-New Hawkeye. If people buy Ms. Marvel and like Ms. Marvel, we’ll attempt to apply the lessons of Ms. Marvel to other things.

And the same thing is true in the opposite. If people stop buying a certain thing, it’s gonna go away and we’re gonna try and do less of it. Again, you look at the sales charts, and the standings charts, you look at any of the end of the year charts for the last ten years, and the biggest selling books, not just from Marvel, but from both companies, are the big event books. As long as that’s the case, there are probably gonna be events.

Hopefully Secret Wars helps to illustrate that the creativity and the commerce are not at odds with these big events. In fact, with Secret Wars, we put the commerce second to make sure that the creative was as good as it could be all the way to the end. So it’s not a one or the other thing. These two things have to work in tandem. We want to do the best stories possible with the best people possible and get them into readers’ hands in the best way possible.

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