Marvel Comics: I Read So You Don’t Have To [Spoilers]

AXIS: The Avengers and The X-Men are on their way to war.
In 2012 the Avengers and the X-Men were pitted against each other over the Phoenix Force, resulting in the fracturing of the Phoenix Force, and the death of Charles Xavier at the hands of Cyclops, one of the Phoenix Five. The Red Skull stole Charles Xavier’s dead body, and used the brain to download his mutant ability into himself, and to become the world’s most powerful telepath. The Avengers and the X-Men lose to the Skull, which results in Magneto calling in backup: several of the most dangerous supervillains.
Doctor Doom, Scarlet Witch, and Doctor Strange perform an inversion spell, which was meant to bring Charles Xavier back into control of the Red Skull, but instead inverted every present character’s moral axis. Apocalypse rises to power again, leading the X-Men, while Captain America and the Avengers capture every other non-inverted Avenger, except for Spider-Man and Nova.
War is about to begin…

Spider-Verse: A team-up of all the Spider-Men of the multiverse, a foreshadowing of Secret Wars.

For the last few years Spider-Man characters have been a part of several multiversal crossovers. Mysterio crossed into Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man met Invincible (Image Comics), and Galactus from Earth-616 crossed into the Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610). These crossovers are all leading towards an event that will show the walls between universe are thinning.
Spider-Verse tells the story of all the “Spider-Totems” from each universe being hunted by Morlun and his family. Spider-Gwen, Jessica Drew of Earth-1616, Sp//dr, and many more all team up to fight alongside Spider-Man.

Time Runs Out: Eight months in the future, the Avengers fight to save the universe. The only problem is… They’re fighting each other.

Not only does this event take place after Axis, it takes place several months in the future, and centers around the end of the multiverse. Universes are collapsing in on themselves, and no one can seem to agree on how to stop it. The Avengers are all split into multiple, warring factions, and the Illuminati is at the center of everything. Namor has left the Illuminati to start the Cabal, a group of the universe’s worst villains hellbent on saving our world by destroying others. Steve Rogers, Ms. Marvel, and Sue Storm work for SHIELD are on the hunt for the Illuminati, Tony Stark is missing, and Beast, Reed Richards, and Doc Green (Hulk to those that don’t know), are all on the run, trying to save the universe at all cost.
Thor and Hyperion are working with a Sunspot owned AIM to travel to the far side of the multiverse to try and save it, and the New Avengers are trying to save to save the Avengers ideal from the warring factions.

Spoilers and how the events tie together:

Axis is the earliest point in the Secret Wars lead up. It tells of the inversion of the heroes, and their personalities becoming steadily more violent and angry. During Time Runs Out, Captain America was revealed to have confronted the Illuminati on their ideas to build weapons to battle or prevent bad things from happening, like Stark’s Sentinels, as seen in Axis, were designed to target heroes, not villains. Captain America didn’t like the idea of weapons, so his mind was wiped by Doctor Strange. This is what leads up to the Illuminati being on the run. I think this stems out of Axis, since Stark is MIA, probably due to the guilt of having created the Sentinels. Axis will lead right up to the beginning of the Time Runs Out Prequel starting in next months Avengers World, and will be further filled in leading up to January’s No More Mutants event. There have never been so many concurrent events before, and it’s no coincidence that all stories have elements that tie into each other, and into Secret Wars. Marvel has never had a story so huge running year round that ties into every major character in the universe. Spider-Verse could explain Peter’s absence from Time Runs Out, and could even mean his death, or at least his being tied up with that event until Secret Wars.

Fantastic Four is being cancelled next year, but I think that’s due to Time Runs Out  and the lead up, just as much as a business decision regarding movie rights. Reed goes on the run with the Hulk and Beast, and Sue joins SHIELD, so the team is broken up. Every story in the Marvel Universe right now is tied together, and they’ve been tied together for the last few years. Jonathan Hickman has said that he’s been planning this event for years, and it’s been in the making since before AVX in 2012, and some of the seeds of all of these events have been planted since his 2009 run on Fantastic Four.

But is this the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it? Marvel has announced the End of the Ultimates next summer… Could it be the end of the Marvel Universe as a whole? We’ll have to wait and see!