Fans and critics have been speculating for years whether or not Marvel Comics might try to repeat DC's "New 52" sales success by similarly rebooting its own universe.

With the sharp decline in sales of the Ultimate Comics line, it didn't take a genius to see that its days are numbered. With major events like Spider-Verse bringing in popular new ideas like Spider-Gwen, the writing was on the wall. And today, Marvel made it official.

At a special event at Midtown Comics in New York, Marvel's braintrust announced that following this summer's big Secret Wars event, the Ultimate Universe, the Marvel Universe, and several other leftovers from the multiple realities will get "smashed together."

Secret Wars, written by Jonathan Hickman, is "the biggest comic Marvel has ever done." It represents the culmination of everything Hickman has done since he took over Avengers and New Avengers. During Secret Wars, the Marvel Universe will consist entirely of the Battleworld, where various realities from the Marvel Universe are brought together as countries on a single planet.

According to Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, "every single piece of those worlds will be building blocks" for what will be called the "new Marvel Universe." Entire new titles will be launched during and after Secret Wars, in a line-wide relaunch that sounds an awful lot like what happened after DC's Flashpoint. Alonso later called Secret Wars "the end cap to many storylines," signaling that pretty much every major story happening in Marvel titles right now will be resolved by the miniseries.

So what kinds of things can you expect to see in the new Marvel Universe? With everything getting rebooted, just about anything is possible. We're betting on Spider-Gwen getting to stick around, while Peter and MJ may end up back together and married again. Miles Morales is certainly not going anywhere, either, given his popularity in Ultimate Spider-Man.

And given Disney's feelings about Fox holding onto the big-screen rights to X-Men, it wouldn't be at all surprising to find the X-Men diminished in importance while the Inhumans (which Marvel Studios is positioning for a big role in cinemas as of Phase 3 and beyond) get a much bigger piece of the pie. The imagination reels at the thought of what else could come out of this reboot.

"The Marvel Universe as you know it is done and the Ultimate Universe as you know it is done," said Marvel's Tom Brevoort. The entire Marvel team noticeably steered clear of labeling this a "reboot," but come on. We know what this is. Marvel needs to restart its continuity to bring new readers in who are intimidated by so many years of stories that they've missed.

A new day is coming, true believers. What do you think of the "new Marvel Universe"?

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