This summer, things are heating up in a big way at your local comic book store.
As is their tradition, Marvel Comics and DC Comics are both publishing major, universe-spanning miniseries that pull in dozens of characters from across the entire comic book landscape.
The thing is, when you learn what these two mega-events are about, they kinda sound like the exact same story.
Competition and tension has always existed between DC and Marvel, but this level of similarity on miniseries of this significance is unprecedented.
Look, both companies will always be influenced by the other, but can this situation really be a coincidence?
Maybe you don't believe that the two stories are one and the same. While the trappings are different, the circumstances and storylines sound remarkably similar.
Don't believe it? Consider this:
|Set on a single world where multiple cities from various dimensions have been placed side-by-side.||Set on a single "Battleworld" where multiple regions from different realities and timelines exist side-by-side.|
|One powerful villain (Brainiac) is responsible for relocating these cities on a single planet, for an unknown purpose.||One powerful villain (unknown) is responsible for relocating these regions on a single planet, for an unknown purpose.|
|World is comprised of 40 cities.||World is comprised of 40 regions (+1 separating wall).|
|The 40 cities will wage war on each other.||The 40 regions will wage war on each other.|
|Disparate and forgotten realities and events may be reintegrated into the modern timeline as a result.||Disparate and forgotten realities and events will be reintegrated into the modern timeline as a result.|
|Locales involved include many fan-favorite settings (Kingdom Come, pre-Flashpoint, Red Son, etc.).||Locales involved include many fan-favorite settings (Zombies, 1602, Old Man Logan, etc.).|
|Event is comprised of 8-issue miniseries and dozens of tie-in minis.||Event is comprised of 8-issue miniseries and dozens of tie-in minis.|
It's anybody's guess as to what happens in Convergence and Secret Wars after they get underway. In all likelihood, they'll head off in different directions. But then again, with so many similar elements, how different can they be?
Marvel has stated that whatever's left after Secret Wars will be the building blocks of the "new Marvel universe." DC has made no such claims, and it's entirely possible that Convergence will be a one-off event with very few lasting consequences. But when was the last time a major comic book event series changed nothing about its universe or characters?
The basic story structures of both will go something like this.
1. Introductions, showing off the dynamics and conflicts of this new world, and reacquainting viewers with long lost characters.
2. Wars break out as the different realities struggle for dominance and survival.
3. A small faction of characters, probably a team-up of superheroes from various settings (a team that includes a standard villain or two who has a motivated self-interest to help), will set out to determine the truth of their reality. Or in other words, how their amalgamated world came to be, and why.
4. Complications ensue, the stakes are raised, plot twists get extra twisty, and shocking revelations come to light.
5. The true villain/mastermind is exposed at last, and he's stacked the deck in his favor, making it seem overwhelmingly impossible for the heroes to win.
6. Conflict reaches a fever pitch as the survivors from the various realities band together in a last-ditch effort to take down the bad guy.
7. The big bad is defeated but at the cost of some fairly major losses for the heroes. The universe/multiverse is rebuilt into something exciting and new (or at the very least something that's been tweaked a bit). The End.
DC Comics' Convergence begins on April 8, 2015 and continues through to the end of May. Its main series, written primarily by Jeff King with art from multiple artists, will release on a weekly schedule. Tie-in series will be monthly and are comprised of just two issues each.
Marvel's Secret Wars, written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Esad Ribic and covers by Alex Ross, kicks off on May 6, 2015. It runs through August, with almost all of Marvel's ongoing titles featuring tie-in story arcs and launching many new ongoing titles.
It's unknown why Convergence and Secret Wars seem to be telling the same story. The hardcore faithful of each are of course looking for conspiracy theories to explain how their favorite publisher came up with this idea first, and the competition is just a copycat. Objectively, there's simply no way to know who was first, or if one of them is guilty of copying the other.
But you can't help wondering.