The Future Of The 616?

Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort have each stated their dislike for the term Earth 616.

"I can tell you for sure that those of us actually working on the books virtually never use the term — and I kind of wince inside whenever I hear somebody use it. It just sounds so stupid to my ear, and so counter to the kind of mindset we try to foster in regard to the stories we create and the thinking we try to employ." – Marvel Executive Editor, Tom Brevoort

"I never use it, I hate the term pure and simple and agree with Tom's assessment of it. I can't remember ever hearing it in the office and only really see it used online for the most part. I think the term really came into vogue when the Ultimate Universe came into prominence, but in my world, the language and distinctions are simple, there is the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. Anything other than that reeks of all that DC Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth Prime stuff which I've never really taken to, but then again, I got into DC when they got rid of all that stuff so it was from and for a different era than my own." – Marvel Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada

This year however, Marvel Comics seems to have used the term 616 more than ever before. Invented for Marvel UK's Captain Britain's multi-dimensional stories, Earth 616 was meant to designate the dimensional reality of the Marvel Universe. As a direct rejection of the American exceptionalism of DC's Earth One and Earth Two, the Marvel Universe was well down the dial, giving a greater sense of perspective and the impression that these stories were a small part of something bigger, grander, more epic than anyone could see. The term was picked up by Chris Claremont, who adored the Captain Britain comics, especially by Alan Moore, Jamie Delano and Alan Davis, and incorporated them into his X-Men books – including Psylocke, James Jaspers and an analogue for The Fury,  before spinning off the Excalibur that starred Captain Britain and Meggan from the British strips.

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But, although the term continued to be used occasionally, informed the Official Marvel Universe Handbooks, and was a common term for Marvel fandom to use to refer to the Marvel Universe, it wasn't popular in the Marvel US offices.

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Until now. Spider-Verse has been full of it, as has the Avengers and New Avengers. It turned up in Uncanny X-Men, the Fantastic Four and plenty more. And is all over the big crossover series Secret Wars.

Secret Wars #1 (of 8) (2015) - Page 11

But why, if Marvel themselves so despise it?

Could it be that this is the last hurrah. Creators told to get their multidimensional stories out of their systems, especially the term 616. Do it now, do it big, do it bold, because it's all going away. And it's their last chance?

Also, it defeats the central purpose of its invention, that is was a relatively meaningless world, American exceptionalism won't let it be and now it must be the most important of universes, one of the only two left , the one that would save the Spider-Verse, etc…

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After all, the entire multiverse has been destroyed and merged into one planet, the Battleworld. What will replace it?

How about 52 Earths? No, sorry, that one's been done….

But where can you get peeks? The All-New All-Different Avengers comic for Free Comic Book Day, showing a new Avengers team. The Rage Of Ultron original graphic novel was the biggest, boldest and brightest of the post Secret Wars books.

The female Thor from Ultron Forever is from a time after the Queng Dynasty which also take place after Secret Wars. Is writer Al Ewing is just well informed or will he will be the actual writer on All-New All Different Avengers?

And it might be worth pointing out that upcoming Ant Man Annual also takes place after Rage Of Ultron. Even though it is released before the last days Ant-Man special.

Scott Lang has a new mission. Hank Pym left something behind, something so microscopic only another Ant-Man would be able find it! Now Scott must relive a past adventure he had with the original Ant-Man in San Francisco in order to piece together the puzzle of the secret Hank left for him!

"This is a story that manages to be not only perfectly welcoming to new readers who just saw Marvel's Ant-Man on the big screen (it'll be on sale two days before the movie's release!), but it's also integral to the larger Scott Lang story that Nick and Ramon have been telling in the ANT-MAN comic series," says series editor Wil Moss. "With Ramon on the present day story and the great Brent Schoonover on the flashback to the San Francisco team-up, Nick tells a story that explores the importance of the Ant-Man legacy — both by looking into the past AND into the future!"

So, you know folks, there is a future… but maybe not for the 616.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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