What Are The Best Secret Wars Tie-Ins? Every Series Ranked

By my count, Secret Wars has featured 59 tie-in series, along with the core Marvel event from Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic. Fortunately, I’ve been keeping up with the universe-smashing action since launch in May 2015, with a reading order and mini-review of every issue to date.

As we approach the conclusion of Secret Wars, it’s time to take a look at each series as a whole, and determine the best of the best. Here you have it – every Secret Wars series ranked, from worst to best.

Passables

battleworld-ultimate-end

60) Battleword: Ultimate End

Average CBH Score: 1.68

Brian Michael Bendis takes a lot of flak for his Earth-616 writing these days (plenty of it deserved), but for the most part his Ultimate Universe credentials have been unimpeachable. Ultimate Spider-Man is one of the 2000’s best long runs in comics, and his work on the Ultimate Enemy trilogy saved the Ultimate U for me after the travashamockery that was Ultimatum.

Which is why it’s so disappointing that Ultimate End is this terrible. It’s my least favorite Secret Wars tie-in by a landslide, and a lot of that is due to the expectations and importance of the title. Marvel has made it no secret that this is the last Ultimate Universe story ever told: hence, Ultimate End.

And this is it?

It’s a bewildering mess from start to finish, with senseless violence, incoherent plot, and the Punisher narrating portions of the book but somehow never remaining relevant to the story. I’ve seen some pretty great Marvel No-Prize attempts in the reading list comments from readers trying to explain Ultimate End, but for me it’s just a dud.

As Hawkeye would say,
Hawkeye not like this

59) Secret Wars: Secret Love

Average CBH Score: 2.9

Unnecessary and oddly non-progressive one-shot. It’s cool to see Copra’s Michel Fiffe getting Big 2 comics work, but the remaining short stories are also a reminder that you’d be better off just reading Copra.

58) Spider-Woman

Average CBH Score: 2.6

Just one issue, tying in Spider-Woman’s solo run to the “Last Days.” Provides some closure if you’ve been keeping up with series, but entirely avoidable otherwise.

57) Black Widow

Average CBH Score: 3.35

I haven’t been particularly into Nathan Edmondson’s Marvel NOW! Black Widow run, and these “Last Days” issues are no exception. You’d be better off reading or re-reading Marjorie Liu’s Black Widow story, “The Name of Rose.”

56) Battleworld: Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies

Average CBH Score: 3.35

It’s hard to be too critical of Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies. James Robinson and Steve Pugh take a preposterous mash-up battle royale and try to insert some heart. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work, and we’re left with trite romantic pairings poured over a foundation of ZOMBIE ULTRONS. The preposterous monster royale may actually have been the safer play.

Years of Future Past

55) Years of Future Past

Average CBH Score: 3.18

Years of Future Past began as an enjoyable “What If?” from an all-time great X-Men story, and quickly fell off the rails faster than you could say “Unbreakable was a pretty good movie.”

54) Silk

Average CBH Score: 3.5

Downgraded simply for being an inconsequential “Last Days” tie-in, I do have to credit Silk for making me want to catch up on the previous issues.

53) Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars

Average CBH Score: 3.35

Another series that just held on too long. It’s a fun idea – what if Deadpool was actually a major player in the original Marvel Secret Wars? – but Cullen Bunn only really has enough jokes for two issues, and we got four.
That said, if you like Bunn’s Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe or Night of the Living Deadpool, there’s a reasonable chance you enjoy this series as well.

52) X-Tinction Agenda

Average CBH Score: 3

X-Tinction Agenda grabbed the crown for “Weirdest choice of an event tie-in” early, and never looked back. I still have no idea why this X-era needed its own domain, especially with the likes of Old Man Logan, Age of Apocalypse, E is for Extinction, Inferno, and Years of Future Past already hanging around.

51) 1602: Witch Hunter Angela

Average CBH Score: 3.3

Even though we’re still in the “Passables” we start creeping into some better titles with 1602: Witch Hunter Angela. Simply put, I’m not a 1602 guy, and Witch Hunter Angela is extremely devoted to the time period. This makes for some fun universe expansion (the creative team tries their hand at Venom and the Guardians of the Galaxy), but 1602 fancy talkin’ and anachronistic fourth-wall breaking made this an overall weak series.

Ghost Racers

50) Battleworld: Ghost Racers

Average CBH Score: 2.9

A lot of Secret Wars fans really like “Ghost Racers,” and conceptually I can’t argue. The series pits all the Ghost Racers of Marvel history against one another in Arcade’s entertainment Killiseum. Essentially you’re left with Mad Max: Fury Road and Speed Racer. This should be a lot of fun.

Ghost Racers never quite comes together, though, and the kinetic, easter-egg laden races don’t work for me visually. For those of you that think it sounds up your alley, it’s still a series worth checking out, especially if you’re going to enjoy callbacks to Knuckles O’Shaugnessy from Jason Aaron’s run on Ghost Rider.

49) Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps

Average CBH Score: 3.3

One of the more disappointing series, given that Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Captain Marvel is likely my favorite take on the character, and that Carol Corps got off to a perfectly pleasant start. There’s a strange lack of rooting interest here, with an all-female flight crew devoid of winning moments like you might find in a series like Rat Queens. Carol Corps is one of the first series to highlight a general malaise with the Godliness of Doom, but it generates no tension or meaningful action.

48) Armor Wars

Average CBH Score: 3.63

Wrap up Armor Wars in four issues instead of five, and it likely moves into the next tier of Secret Wars stories. As it stands, this is a cool domain (a virus in Technopolis means everyone has to wear Iron Man armor in order to survive), that begins with a compelling murder mystery. The delivery from there falters, but Armor Wars has its moments.

47) Secret Wars: 2099

Average CBH Score: 3.2

Secret Wars: 2099 might actually be the least relevant tie-in of the whole bunch, simply because I’m not sure there’s a single mention of Secret Wars related anything. You could call this Marvel 2099: Avengers vs. Defenders, and nothing would change.

The good here (2099 Defenders) is very strong, whereas the bad (2099 Avengers) is driving narrative. Flip the script and this becomes an interesting miniseries.

Average to Good Tie-Ins

mrs-deadpool-howling-commandos

46) Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos

Average CBH Score: 3.37

There are some very strong gags here, perhaps none stronger than a team of monster Howling Commandos that literally howl (at least in the case of Wolfman). It’s also fun to see Deadpool’s wife Shiklah leading the charge, with Deadpool relegated to unheard-ghost status.

If nothing else, issue two’s opening gag with Deadpool enjoying some comics is one of my favorite jokes in this event.

45) Secret Wars: Battleworld

Average CBH Score: 2.93

Battleworld is a collection of short stories from around the Secret Wars landscape which makes for an uneven final delivery. There are some really great concepts (A domain-hopping Punisher wearing the Sorcerer’s cape of Dr. Strange), offset by stories that fall flat (pretty much all of Battleworld #3). Since Battleworld is paired with the superior Secret Wars: Journal, there’s enough here that I actively recommend the collected edition.

44) A-Force

Average CBH Score: 3.3

A recurring theme throughout Secret Wars is tie-ins that get off to great starts and then falter tremendously as they go. While there’s a lot of upside to series that aren’t too closely tied to the main narrative, the downside in some cases is the story’s don’t have anywhere to go.

A-Force suffers somewhat from this, beginning with an all-female Avengers unit (A-Force) and wildly fun action off the coast of their “Paradise Isle” (Miss America punches a Megalodan all the way to the Shield). As Baron, She-Hulk drives the continuing uneven narrative.

43) Howard the Duck

Average CBH Score: 4.2

Billed as “Not a Secret Wars tie-in,” so take this inclusion for what its worth. Mostly I’d just like to take a moment to say Chip Zdarsky’s Howard the Duck is pretty great.

42) Captain America & The Mighty Avengers

Average CBH Score: 3.85

For those of you invested in the pre-Secret Wars build up in the pages of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers, Captain America & The Mighty Avengers does a nice job filling in some details and catching new readers up on the situation. A better fill-in tie-in than Avengers World.

41) Last Days of Ant-Man

Average CBH Score: 3.4

This lengthy “Last Days” one-shot isn’t the peak of the new Ant-Man, but it’s a pleasant enough showcase for an Ant-Man series that Nick Spencer has done a nice job reinventing.

loki-agent-of-asgard

40) Loki: Agent of Asgard

Average CBH Score: 3.56

Initially a tough sell, Loki: Agent of Asgard won me over with a meta-reflection on story-telling and a clear and abiding love for Asgardian myth.

39) Ms. Marvel

Average CBH Score: 3.8

Much like Ant-Man, “Last Days” is a slight step back for Ms. Marvel, but all in all it’s finding a natural way to end one of Marvel’s best titles since Marvel NOW! began in 2012.

38) Inhumans: Attilan Rising

Average CBH Score: 3.88

For all of the players across Battleworld, it’s surprising how few series feature cross-dimensional interactions. Attilan Rising takes advantage of this potential with the likes of 1602 Matt Murdock fighting for the resistance of a Bar owner Black Bolt – who talks!

37) Age of Apocalypse

Average CBH Score: 3.6

I love Age of Apocalypse more than several family members, but the Secret Wars tie-in isn’t quite a knockout. Nonetheless, it’s hard to knock any series that takes me back to the wonderful land of genetic research torture and muggle genocide.

36) Inferno

Average CBH Score: 3.46

Hank Johnson

35) Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra

Average CBH Score: 3.1

In retrospect, I think I was overly critical of this one-shot, which is nothing less than a well-executed “Average Joe… who happens to be in Hydra” story. I would 100% check out a Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra ongoing, and this is as good a place to start as anywhere.

34) E is for Extinction

Average CBH Score: 3.77

In the grand tradition of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men, this is a gloriously off-kilter book. E is for Extinction picks up several years after the first volume of New X-Men, in a world where Professor X is no more, and Magneto now leads a school of hip young mutants. Cyclops, Emma, and Logan are all well past their prime, but still determined to set the world of mutants right.

33) Spider-Island

Average CBH Score: 3.97

I wrote this in the individual issue reviews, but Spider-Island is the most plausible “what-if” scenario in the Secret Wars event reimagining. This easily could have been the actual Spider-Island event, and I wouldn’t really have batted a lash. I’m not sure it’s a definite improvement, but there are some very fun moments throughout, as it’s up to Agent Venom to save the day.

32) House of M

Average CBH Score: 3.95

Unlike, say, Civil War (which we’ll get to later), House of M doesn’t reinvent the original, and instead chooses to live within the established space. This means the monarchy of M is firmly in power, and Magnus is growing bored. It’s an interesting starting place, as House of M itself has very little time to examine what ruling was actually like for the once and future Magneto.

31) Planet Hulk

Average CBH Score: 3.96

Planet Hulk is a pretty strong misdirect, although it works in the favor or the story. Instead of a return to Hulk’s gladiatorial time on Sakaar, we get a warrior Steve Rogers and his pet Devil Dinosaur, released from Arcade’s fighting pits on order of Doom to hunt down the Greenland’s Red King. True to title, Rogers and Devil Dinosaur encounter a Hulk-laden territory, laced with everything from swamp Hulks to sand Hulks

.secret-wars-spider-verse

30) Spider-Verse

Average CBH Score: 3.78

For all of its inherent messiness, the thrill of 2014’s Spider-Verse event was the depth and variety of multiversal Spider-Characters. Secret Wars’ Spider-Verse scales back the madhouse diversity in favor of a core five, led by everyone’s favorite Spider-Gwen. There are some immensely fun moments (Gwen using a guitar amp to save the day, Spider-Ham getting hit really hard and not getting hurt) interspersed with the ultimate Spider revenge: Gwen fighting Norman Osborn.

29) Where Monsters Dwell

Average CBH Score: 3.72

There are significantly fewer monster moments than you’d think from a book entitled “Where Monsters Dwell,” although the point seems to be one male lead is monster enough for everyone. It’s a scaled back Garth Ennis dark comedy series, with a character named “No-Balls” and men kept in prisons for the sole purpose of… breeding… sort of.

28) Punisher

Average CBH Score: 3.55

Punisher sneaks into the top 30 with two “Last Days” issues for the sole reason that the artistic action direction in the final issue is top-notch, and Frank Castle says “I came here… for punishment” without a hint of irony.

27) X-Men ‘92

Average CBH Score: 3.9

X-Men ’92 is a big ol’ nostalgia fest for fans of the 90’s animated series, but to its credit the book expands the TV show in some fun ways entirely appropriate to Secret Wars. Drawing from Morrison and Quitely’s New X-Men, 90’s X-Force, and the desire to feature the world’s biggest guns, X-Men ’92 is a joyous flashback to one of my favorite shows of all time.

26) Guardians of Knowhere

Average CBH Score: 3.52

Knowhere did not finish particularly strong, so there’s a chance I look back on this placement with regret, but I have to credit Guardians of Knowhere for actually having a point of view on a real subject matter (blind faith). Oddly powered Gamora and Angela have a compelling conversation about the Doom’s Godness, with a very practical application to real world heresy and religion. Mike Deodato otherwise nails the art as usual, with some excellent Drax showdowns.

25) Hail Hydra

Average CBH Score: 3.95

Hail Hydra benefits slightly from a late start and recency bias, but Rick Remender is having one last go at making Captain America miserable in a world ruled by the hordes of Hydra.

Future Imperfect

24) Future Imperfect

Average CBH Score: 3.52

Peter David is back telling a Maestro story. If you’re a fan of the original Future Imperfect, this means it’s a definite buy, and for everyone else, it’s old evil Hulk trying to mine the power of Asgard in an effort to rule Battleworld.

23) Runaways

Average CBH Score: 3.93

Runaways doesn’t really play to fans of the original Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona series, but it does offer Secret Wars’ only real look at the youth of Battleworld (think about the kids!). It’s an enjoyable classroom adventure in the vein of Morning Glories or Deadly Class (but more Morning Glories).

22) Battleworld: Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde

Average CBH Score: 4.03

Absurdly cartoon-y, but undeniably charming. Worth noting that this features Earth-616 Peter Quill, and should be read after Secret Wars #4, in Peter’s accidental quest to earn the love of another Kitty Pryde. As fans of Mouserat know well, Quill’s got a set of pipes too.

My Favorite Secret Wars Comics

Silver Surfer

21) Silver Surfer

Average CBH Score: 4

One of my favorite “Last Days” tie-ins, from a great run by Dan Slott and Mike Allred.

20) Squadron Sinister

Average CBH Score: 3.97

Initially hard to shake off the familiarity with Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s “Earth 2,” or more recently “Convergence: Crime Syndicate.” Nonetheless, Squadron Sinister takes the “Evil Justice League” foundation and executes efficiently. It’s not necessarily a shock that everyone turns on everyone, but it’s interesting to watch it play out.

19) 1872

Average CBH Score: 4.1

Creative genesis of the Old West Marvel U from Gerry Duggan and company. Like many of the better Secret Wars tie-ins, 1872 moves fast and defies expectations.

18) Korvac Saga

Average CBH Score: 3.83

Korvac Saga likely has the least popular core group of any of the top comics (the old Guardians of the Galaxy, and an Avengers squad led by Wonder Man), but it maximizes the available assets. More significantly, this series takes the might of Korvac and positions it very well within the narrative of Secret Wars. One of the better looks at characters trying to understand this alternate reality.

17) Magneto

Average CBH Score: 4.02

My favorite “Last Days” book completes a stellar run from Cullen Bunn on one of Marvel’s greatest villains. The book and Magneto’s dedication are so strong, there are moments you think he’s actually going to prevent Secret Wars from happening. Which would be tragic, but sure is impressive.

16) Secret Wars Journal

Average CBH Score: 3.8

Like the Battleworld series, Secret Wars Journal is a collection of short stories, and about every other story is a knockout. From “Hell’s Kitchen” in Mr. Sinister’s realm to “Who Killed Tony Stark” in Oldtown, Journal’s highs are higher than just about any series in Secret Wars.

old-man-logan-secret-wars

15) Old Man Logan

Average CBH Score: 4.05

Old Man Logan is most notable for an effective use of domain-hopping (Old Man Logan traverses the Battleworld landscape like few others), and for Andrea Sorrentino’s kinetic, complex multi-panel action. If you enjoyed the original Mark Millar series, this Old Man Logan update picks right up nicely.

14) Battleworld: Red Skull

Average CBH Score: 4.5

The worst thing I can say about “Red Skull” is that it’s only three issues. Begins with a great concept as Doom needs to banish the rebellious Red Skull beyond the SHIELD and Crossbones needs to assemble a team of Marvel miscreants to take down the Skull. Somehow the story only builds from there. We’re in “I love this and I might resort to sentences comprised entirely of hyperbolic praise” land.

13) Battleworld: Master of Kung Fu

Average CBH Score: 4.28

I’m a sucker for well-told Kung-Fu stories, and while it’s no Infinite Kung-Fu, Master of Kung Fu takes the bad ass intrigue of the mystical martial arts and funnels in some Mighty Marvel players you would not expect (the Morlocks), amongst those you totally would (Shang Chi).

12) Infinity Gauntlet

Average CBH Score: 4.15

One of the most creative expansions on a popular Marvel event title. Rather than simply jump back to Jim Starlin and Ron Lim’s Infinity Gauntlet, this series blends modern Marvel cosmic Annihilation, Nova, and Warlock and the Infinity Watch. It’s a cosmic Walking Dead that doubles as the best Thanos story on the list.

11) Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows

Average CBH Score: 4.2

It’s hard to carry around too many sour grapes for my favorite superhero of all time, but we don’t really get to see Spider-Man with his own family very often. No offense to Aunt May, but caring for your immortal Aunt isn’t quite fighting Venom with your child’s life at stake. Dan Slott uses Secret Wars as an opportunity to mine this territory to tremendous effect, while simultaneously delivering what easily could have been the Marvel event of the mid-90’s.

Howard the Human

10) Howard the Human

Average CBH Score: 4.5

Howard’s a human PI in a world meant for animals. Brilliant one-shot from Skottie Young and company, with a mouse lawyer named Matthew Mousedock.

9) Siege

Average CBH Score: 4.25

Kieron Gillen reprises his excellent but short-lived S.W.O.R.D. with a focus on Abigail Brand in her new role as director of Battleworld’s SHIELD. While the vast majority of Secret Wars tie-ins are self-contained miniseries, Siege connects more directly to the overarching narrative, and is stroung enough to warrant this attention.

8) Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders

Average CBH Score: 4.35

If ever there was a case to be made for expanding the length of this event, it’s the mere two issues of Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders. Tom Ewing writes the best take on heresy in the realm of Battleworld, and then one ups that in the second issue with a scathing commentary on British politics.

7) Battleworld: Marvel Zombies

Average CBH Score: 4.23

What could have simply been a gross-out horror funhouse is instead a touching tale of Elsa Bloodstone navigating her troubling relationship with her father as she attempts to survive… in a gross-out horror funhouse. Funny, sweet, and yes, zombies.

6) MODOK Assassin

Average CBH Score: 4.35

Quite possibly the greatest love story of our time, all the more hilarious coming from the mental organism designed only for killing. MODOK is the top assassin in the land, and falls in love with a fallen angel after his own heart.

Thors

5) Thors

Average CBH Score: 4.4

Set Gotham Central or The Wire in Asgard, and make every cop a multiversal Thor serving the all-father. Hand the title to Jason Aaron and let the murder investigation commence!

4) Giant-Size Little Marvel: A vs X

Average CBH Score: 4.56

Easily the best all-ages comic within Secret Wars, and a laugh-out-loud reprisal of Skottie Young’s pint-sized interpretations of the Marvel Universe during Avengers vs. X-Men.

3) Civil War

Average CBH Score: 4.6

The best, most thoroughly engaging “What If” in a field stacked with “What Ifs.” Charles Soule and Lienel Francis Yu do such an invigorating twist on the original Civil War that I can’t help but wonder what might have been if this was the new Marvel Universe.

2) Weirdworld

Average CBH Score: 4.53

Mike Del Mundo’s art is breathtakingly gorgeous, to the point that Weirdworld is in a completely different class of visual. Pairing these soaring flights of madness with Jason Aaron’s dumpster-diving character salvation (A Marvel no-prize to anyone waiting on the return of Arkon and Crystar), and you have my favorite miniseries of the entire Secret Wars.

1) Secret Wars

Average CBH Score: It’s Great

All hope lies in Doom. It’s been a beautiful ride.

6 Replies to “What Are The Best Secret Wars Tie-Ins? Every Series Ranked”

  1. I agree with most of this. I have liked age of ultron vs zombies tho, so far. But I was really into the new invaders and it was strangely following it. As far as ultimate end goes…… I just dislike bendis the more I read. Although I would have placed it in favor of some others. Deadpool was pretty good IMO, and I’d have put korvac saga closer to the front. But definetely weirdworld and secret wars are the best

    1. Korvac Saga is really well done, I agree. I can understand placing that one higher.

      Ultron v. Zombies was definitely heavy on the Invaders run, so that makes if you’re already more of a fan. There are some nice ideas in there, but for me they didn’t play out as well as many of the other series.

      To Bendis’ credit, Old Man Logan and Guardians of Knowhere (particularly Old Man Logan) are much better. I’ve enjoyed enough of his comics work that I’m typically a fan, but Ultimate End just goes right off the deep end for me.

    1. Because secret wars is so intense that even it’s own series is a tie in. Everything marvel does, or has ever done is a tie in to secret wars, therefore secret wars must be a tie in to secret wars. There is only secret wars. You are a tie in to secret wars. We all are.

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