By Ian Melton
Secret Wars has made a video game canon; well as least a version of it so far. This week's Contest of Champions, issue #5, actually has quite a few big "moments" for the Marvel Universe brought to us by the new Jonathan Hickman, Al Ewing. In his current three titles for Marvel, Contest of Champions, New Avengers, and The Ultimates, Al Ewing has established the new rules and ideas of the Marvel Universe cosmos and has brought Iso-8, the maguffin of Marvel video game fodder, into the Marvel Prime universe, given it backstory, and relevance to the new reality.
This new issue of Contest of Champions goes further explaining that first, the battlerealm and all that energy that Reed Richards and family are using to make new realities, is also where the contest to decide who gets the Iso-Sphere between the Collector and Gamesmaster is taking place. Taking the canon of the Contest of Champions game, or at least a verion of it, Al Ewing has firmly established that the whole game millions are playing can't have happened without Secret Wars.
Second, the new Marvel Earth Prime has the same history of Earth-616 probably down to the smallest detail, as the events surrounding the death of Night Thrasher in Civil War remain exactly the same. (Yes, Night Thrasher, the original is back. Considering my close ties to New Warriors #1 I didn't want to make that a main point.) Considering none of the current Marvel books have delved back in great depth of flashback since the end of Secret Wars this is a point that has not, until now, been firmly established.
Third, tying in other media content, South Korea original Marvel character White Fox finally get to interact with other Marvel characters this issue, making the cohesiveness of the Marvel Universe and these new elements something Al Ewing is fully taking care of. Building off past events and video games in such an easy effort is impressive. Considering he takes care of the first two points on page 1 makes it more so…
What is most impressive though is Al Ewing is given Serect Wars a immediate and continuing impact beyond the tie in series that we've already seen, such as Old Man Logan and A-Force. He is also establishing the back story for a popular video game in a comic book and unlike past comic book / video game tie ins he's making it all canon. If he keeps this up the Contest of Champions book will flawlessly set up the plot of the game so far and perhaps tie all back to Earth Prime. If you want to know where the Marvel Universe is going, because you know Al Ewing is going to get a Marvel crossover to write sometime soon, Contest of Champions is probably one to be reading. (The Ultimates and New Avengers too probably, he really is making The Ultimates a book to pay attention to!)