‘The Reckoning War’ is a Marvel Comics event that writer Dan Slott has been seeding across the Marvel Universe for almost two decades, and with the release of February 2’s Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha #1 (opens in new tab) we now know what it’s really about, what the stakes are, and most satisfyingly to curious comics fans such as ourselves, who the secret villains are.
But saying who that is would be spoilers, so pardon us for a second…
Spoilers ahead for Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha #1 Dan Slott, Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Carlos Magno, Guru-FX, and Joe Caramagna.
The super-secret antagonists of Marvel Comics’ The Reckoning War are first introduced in Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha #1 by the appropriate group name of ‘The Reckoning,’ but by the end of the issue, we know who they were all along: the Prosilicans.
It’s Newsarama’s job to know who that is, and we do – and we’ve mentioned them as the likely villains since we announced this series back in 2021.
Who are the Prosilicans (AKA The Reckoning)?
Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha #1 does a good job in the telling of the Prosilicians tragic origin story – and also giving it more context.
The Prosicilians were an early race of lifeforms chosen by the super-powerful Watchers – then known as ‘The Luminous’ – to receive the Luminous’ advanced technology. At the time, the Luminous thought of themselves as the most advanced race in the Marvel Universe – and wanted to help races evolve by giving them their technology.
(If you’re getting Star Trek Prime Directive gone wrong vibes here, you’re not the only one.)
“We were not the Watchers then. How could we be. When there was so much to see and do?” says the Watchers’ database (known as the Cyclopedia Universum) in Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha #1. “We believe ourselves to be kind and generous, and we wished for others to share in our bounty.”
Described retroactively as “hubris,” the Luminous helped civilizations such as the Prosilicans jump to the same technological level as them. But while the Luminous came to their technological understanding through centuries of learning, trial, and error, the Prosilicans didn’t have that – only immediate immense power unimaginable to them just a short time before.
“But without our evolved guidance, the Prosilicans found other uses for our technology. Uses that suited their true savage natures.”
As an aside, the usage of the terms “primitives” and “savage” by the Watchers in this recap reeks of outmoded colonialist speak which is widely considered pejorative, and in some cases, racist – which may be a point the creators of Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha are subtly trying to imply.
What is The First War?
Flush with dramatically advanced technology, the Prosicilians attempted to conquer the universe and set off a massive cosmic war. It was called ‘The First War’ by the Watchers in retrospect, meaning the first war in recorded history for the Marvel Universe. It was the Prosicilians versus… well, everybody according to the Watchers, meaning the Luminous and all the other races they gave their advanced technology to.
The First War was eventually won when the Luminous and “every other civilization” united in a final stand, using an unspecified “ultimate weapon of last resort” that decimated the Prosicilians. The “toxic fallout” was immense, bringing down cities, worlds, and entire civilizations.
The fallout wave from this “ultimate weapon of last resort” grew to consume 90% of the Marvel Universe, and was only stopped when the Luminous used their power to create a “great barrier” between this carnage and the remaining 10% of the Marvel U that survived.
The new shape of the Marvel Universe
So the Marvel Universe as we know it now is only 10% of what it once was, with the remaining 90% decimated eons ago and forgotten.
“The toxic fallout was contained beyond [the great barrier].” The Watcher’s index describes. “Which ensures that the mighty kingdoms, lands, and peoples of the Reckoning would never be seen again. For no life could possibly exist among those spartan barrens that remain.”
Spoilers, but people did survive – specifically, the Prosicilians, who again are now calling themselves the Reckoning. And they’re coming for revenge.
The mistake the Luminous made with the Prosicilians led the race to take a “sacred vow” to “only watch and never interfere with others,” which is how they became the Watchers.
But they included a clause in that verbal contract that readers are only just learning about – that it would be permissible to interfere should the Reckoning return.
What this means for The Reckoning War going forward
In Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha #1, it’s revealed the Reckoning returned several years ago – giving the advanced technology at the heart of it all to another alien race, the Cotati, who used it to set off the cosmic war chronicled in the 2020 Empyre event. And they did so again in this new story, supplying the Badoon with technology to invade Earth.
When Uatu the Watcher realized that the Reckoning are active, he sent out a call to his fellow Watchers to meet up to discuss the situation – but just as he did, the Reckoning instructed a Badoon warship to blow up Earth’s moon – with Uatu on it.
By the end of Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War Alpha #1, Uatu is presumed dead, but his protégé Nick Fury Sr. (AKA The Unseen) helps Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four learn what had happened by connecting him to the Watchers’ database.
The leader of the Reckoning seems to be a figure named Wrath (whom we debuted information about back in 2021), who currently resides in the barren 90% of the Marvel U cordoned off by the Watchers eons ago.
The Reckoning’s hidden efforts to supply alien races with the advanced tech are already causing ripples across the Marvel cosmic universe, which plays out in a scene where the Silver Surfer finds Eternity – the living embodiment of the universe – on his proverbial deathbed.
Another cosmic figure called the Griever at the End of All Things, informs the Silver Surfer that this could be – as her name implies – “the end of all things” unless the Surfer can do something. She refers to a “remedy” that could “save us all.” Without saying it by name, she says he had it the last time they saw one another.
Marvel’s ultimate weapon returns
What she seems to be referring to is the Ultimate Nullifier – a storied Marvel
weapon going back to the ’60s, which is regarded by mighty cosmic beings such as Galactus and Uatu the Watcher as the universe’s most devastating weapon ever. Like some sort of meta Chekov’s gun, however, it has never actually been used. Just attempts at and the threat of its use has been the centerpiece of major Marvel stories for the past 60 years.
The Ultimate Nullifier could be the MacGuffin of Marvel’s The Reckoning War event, but if you put some pieces together it could be the “ultimate weapon of last resort” the Watchers said they used to win the First War – but as a result, nearly killed off 90% of the Marvel U.
The Reckoning War continues February 16 with Fantastic Four #40.
Dan Slott has framed The Reckoning War as the biggest event of his career – but how will it go down among the most impactful Marvel comics events of all time?