Two of Marvel’s biggest miniseries events of the last decade were Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity from 2013 and Secret Wars from 2015. The first involved Thanos taking advantage of a sprawling galactic conflict to attack earth and kill his long lost son, while the second revolved around Dr. Doom becoming a god-emperor after rebuilding the world following a multiversal cataclysm. It’s a lot.
Secret Wars was the culmination of multiple story arcs woven through the different titles Hickman wrote for during his tenure at Marvel and is suitably grand, poignant, and flat out bonkers. Infinity functions as a piece of Secret Wars’s grander story, but works as a self-contained and action-packed epic. Both are wonderful works of superhero fiction, but which one is worthy of being crowned the best Marvel event of the 2010s?
10 Secret Wars: Better Villain
Infinity might sport the mad titan Thanos himself as it’s big bad, but Secret Wars has Doctor Doom at his most delusionally megalomaniacal. In the story, Doom finally has finally become the God-King that he’s always believed himself to be and rules over the eclectic Battleworld with an armored fist.
With the Invisible Woman at his side and Sheriff Strange as his closest advisor, we get to see Doom unleashed. Within the first several issues we watch him easily kill Thanos and have some of the biggest villains in the Marvel Universe like Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, and Dormammu kneel before him.
9 Infinity: Bigger Scale
It’s interesting that Secret Wars, an event that includes the destruction of the multiverse, feels much more personal in terms of its biggest moments. Much of the action in the event stem from court intrigue and the various goings-on in the different kingdoms of Battleworld.
Infinity, on the other hand, is a story of total war across the universe. There are spectacular scenes of clashes between space armadas, invasions of different worlds, and battles between armies of super-powered heroes and villains. Each issue contains about a year’s worth of splash pages and destruction.
8 Secret Wars: Crazier
Due to the entire Marvel Multiverse being combined into Doom’s Battleworld, readers were treated to some truly bizarre variations of their favorite characters. These ranged from the Thor Corps (a police force that included every possible version of Thor,) Wild West takes of Iron Man and the Hulk, to Weirdworld’s forest of Man-Things.
As crazy as some moments of Infinity could be, they pale in comparison to the undeniably awesome image of Captain America riding Devil Dinosaur while taking on a tribe of Hulks. Moments like that are the reason people read comics.
7 Infinity: Cooler Moments
While Secret Wars may have the edge when it comes to crazy moments, Infinity has some incredibly cool sequences. The most iconic may be the scene where Thor is sent by Captain America to meet with the forces of the Builders, who are destroying planets that don’t align with their vision for the Universe.
While Thor is ostensibly there to negotiate terms of his side’s surrender, he is mocked by the Builders who even go as far as to strike the visiting dignitary. At this point, Thor summons Mjolnir and tears through the assembled Builders, inspiring the various races of the galaxy to continue fighting against their common enemy.
6 Secret Wars: Multiverse Changing Consequences
Most miniseries events threaten to change the Marvel Universe “forever” but rarely make good on this claim. For example, the conclusion of Infinity doesn’t make too many changes to the status quo, other than working to further set up Inhumanity and Secret Wars.
The changes wrought by the end of Secret Wars, however, did make some lasting changes to Earth 616. With the conclusion of the Ultimate Marvel brand, various characters like Miles Morales and the sociopathic version of Reed Richards known as the Maker crossed over into the main universe, along with other alternate world versions of characters like Old Man Logan. It also took half of the Fantastic Four off-world for several years.
5 Infinity: More Self-Contained
Secret Wars was a massive event. It was set up and alluded to in different series (including Infinity!) over the course of several years, and when the event finally began it was important enough that multiple titles ended their runs in order to properly fit into the story it told.
Infinity had several tie-ins as well, but one didn’t need to read Guardians of the Galaxy or Superior Spider-Man to understand the setup and plot of the main series. While the story and its ramifications are richer when read in conjunction with several other titles, Infinity works well as a standalone.
4 Secret Wars: Better Cover Art
Alex Ross went wild with the covers he illustrated for Secret Wars. Every cover is uniquely dynamic, containing a treasure trove of easter eggs and character cameos for eagle-eyed fans. Each one is iconic in its own right and could easily serve as the cover for a deluxe collected edition.
How great is the work Ross does? So great that Esad Ribic, who usually would have been given cover art duties for the entire series, was tasked with doing its variants in addition to the interior (which is also beautiful.)
3 Infinity: Everyone Gets Involved
While Secret Wars may involve the entire multiverse, the cast of the main series is relegated to a few key players, mostly from the Fantastic Four and assorted Avengers. In Infinity, it seems like the entire superhuman population of earth and the cosmos gets to play a part.
Numerous members of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and even guys like Shang-Chi and Hyperion have a role in the unfolding cosmic drama. Watching all the altered versions of our favorite heroes in Secret Wars is fun, but it’s missing Infinity’s more visceral thrill of watching the entire Marvel pantheon working together to stay a step ahead of the seemingly unstoppable Builders.
2 Secret Wars: A Better Conclusion
As previously mentioned, Secret Wars is the culmination of years of storytelling. At the time it was heralded as being the end of the Marvel Universe, and even though it obviously wasn’t, as far as sendoffs go it’s a pretty spectacular one.
The entire event pays tribute to decades of stories and characters, all while slowly building towards a final confrontation between Dr. Doom and the hero that started the Marvel Universe as we know it: Mr. Fantastic.
1 Infinity: The Heroes Get To Be Heroes
Watching Black Panther wielding an Infinity Gauntlet while he and Namor lead an army of zombies to battle God Doom is incredible, there’s no way around it. The final battle of Secret Wars is insane, but there feels like something is missing. This may be because, with some notable exceptions, the heroes taking part in the fight aren’t the ones we’ve grown to care about over the last several decades. They’re mostly altered versions of themselves from across the multiverse.
In this respect, Infinity works very well. We get to see scenes of our heroes being the heroes we know and love on a grand scale. Captain America gets to make courageous speeches, Thor gets to show off some incredible feats of strength, and Black Bolt gets to alternate between stoically brooding and unleashing his awesome fury. The scenes where the various heroes of earth help liberate alien worlds are particularly moving, as they show peoples from across the universe finding inspiration in Marvel’s superhumans the same way many readers do.
Marvel's Infinity and Secret Wars are two of its biggest events of all time, but which of the two is the best?