Marvel’s comics universe has recently been tied up with a number of large-scale, multi-book events like X of Swords and King in Black, that both promised world-changing stories whose climaxes would forever change how we saw certain characters. But the House of Ideas is already ramping up for its next Big Thing, by returning to one of its old ideas.
In Marvel’s original Heroes Reborn series, many of Marvel’s most famous heroes (who’d recently died while fighting the being known as Onslaught) were suddenly resurrected and placed within a pocket universe by the Fantastic Four’s Franklin Richards. Franklin stripped his allies of their memories and gave them a chance to live wholly “new” lives, with more modern narrative trappings, which in turn lead to new reboots of Marvel’s current output with new creative teams. While that particular 90s comics arc culminated in Marvel’s heroes returning to their rightful place within their prime universe, the existence of the publisher’s comics multiverse has always been that there was a chance of returning to the original Heroes Reborn’s “Franklinverse,” or something like it.
But just as Franklin has recently lost his own reality-altering powers, Marvel’s announced its plan for another Heroes Reborn—written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Ed McGuinne—and the first trailer for the comics event promises something...wholly familiar and seemingly straightforward.
In the trailer, we’re introduced to a version of Blade who seems to be the only person on Earth who recalls the Avengers ever having existed, something that’s somehow related to the Squadron Supreme, of all teams, having become this reality’s preeminent team of superheroes. Here, none of the events that led to Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, or Carol Danvers becoming Captain America, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel, ever occured, and yet certain villains—or at least warped versions of them—still terrorize the public, necessitating heroes like Doctor Spectrum and Power Princess to save the day.
It’s interesting to note that, the Squadron Supreme (of America) played a major role recently in the pages of 2019's War of the Realms event where agent Phil Coulson gathered its members to replace the Avengers as the Frost Giants waged war on Washington D.C. In the new Heroes Reborn trailer, there’s a quick glimpse of a Coulson reflection poster, suggesting that the Squadron and Coulson’s new prominence are interconnected.
Between the slightly-different versions of classic characters seen in the trailer, and the overall premise that’s being presented, the new Heroes Reborn gives off the impression of being an amalgam of its pocket-universe predecessor with a splash of House of M tossed in for good measure, which is all fine, but leaves the question of “why?” standing. Multiversal reboots are a dime a dozen in mainstream comic books, and they’re not disappearing from the medium any time soon. But whether Heroes Reborn 2.0 manages to actually bring something new and interesting to Marvel’s comics remains to be seen until the series launches in May.
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