Heroes Reborn #1 review

It’s just another day in the neighbourhood and Robbie Reyes is a man on a mission. On a bike.

Wot, no flaming muscle car?

The figure watching him takes this as confirmation that this isn’t the reality he knows. Blade the Vampire Slayer finds himself on a world with no vampires. And that’s not the only difference. There’s no Hulk. No Captain Marvel. Iron Man, Black Panther, Iron Fist, Star Brand… all absent. In short. No mighty Avengers. But there are heroes and villains on this changed Earth 616.

And Hyperion, here fighting one Doctor Juggernaut, isn’t the only champion of justice.

Blur. Power Princess. Dr Spectrum. Nighthawk, ready to fight the foes no single superhero could withstand.

But what the heck is going on? And why is Blade the only hero who knows something is wrong.

Or is he?

This is Nighthawk? When has he ever exuded such Batman-level confidence? I’ve long been a Kyle Richmond fan, as a Defender he was a competent hero, a trier, but… cool? Hardly. This really is a different world.

And it’s one I look forward to spending some time in. I hadn’t planned to follow this Marvel event on first hearing about it – how many times do we need Age of Apocalypse/House of M/Secret Wars? – but it’s a light week. The cover didn’t entice me, mind; it is, to be polite, unprepossessing – like the dullest heist movie poster ever. Even the title treatment is snooze-some, while the orange background is rather sickly. Illustrator Leonil Francis Yu and colourist Sunny Gho have produced some excellent work in the past so I can only assume they’re following someone else’s big idea.

Inside, though, the art pops. When did Ed McGuinness get so good? To me, he’s the guy who drew Superman looking like a Macy’s parade balloon. But this stuff is just wonderful. Dynamic layouts, attractive characters, wild new designs… the first couple of pages hold no hint of the glory that is to follow. From page 3, when we meet Dr Doom, the visuals ignite and from there the pages pop right to the end.

Working with McGuinness are Mark Morales, whose sharp embellishments remind us that the publishing trend towards losing inkers is misguided, and colourist Matthew Wilson, who opts for understated tones in the civilian scenes, then goes nuts when the super powers come out – just look at Dr Spectrum!

And Cory Petit is obviously having a ball with the lettering, with breakout effects and ad hoc logos a go-go.

Writer Jason Aaron’s script is clear and breezy, with a playfulness that ensures no one needs to take things too seriously – this is a fun comic, with no ‘just’ about it.

After the strip, editors Alanna Smith, Martin Biro and Tom Brevoort share preliminary sketches for this series’ changed heroes and villains. I do like bonuses like this, the kind of feature usually restricted to trade collections.

This opening salvo will be followed by a number of one-shots and more issues of this mini-series, with a Heroes Return comic to close the event. While I could do without Marvel recycling Nineties branding, if the coming chapters are as much fun as this opening, I won’t be complaining.

9 thoughts on “Heroes Reborn #1 review

  1. A) Since JMS did that ‘adult’ reboot of the Squadron and made Nighthawk Black and an asshole, it’s been the standard alt-Nighthawk.

    2) I was turned off somewhat by the way it just came out of nowhere. The other alt realities mentioned had an inciting event. Not this one. I enjoyed it some but between that and Aaron’s run being so bad I will be reading it expecting the worst

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My understanding is that it’s Mephisto in some form or fashion. He’s been involved with Coulson and the Squadron in some way over the past couple of years as the one driving Coulson, and he has been retconned a few years ago to be the one that brought the Avengers together….

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      1. But in the book it just happens out of nowhere. There’s been no build up in story anywhere for this.

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      2. I read about a Mephisto theory on Bleeding Cool or somewhere, but as Steve says, there’s nothing in the comic so didn’t mention it in case it proves a spoiler. I don’t actually mind not knowing what’s happened to change things, this is Marvel, it seems to happen every second Tuesday.

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      1. Dour is the word I’d choose to call that reboot and why I probably tied you for bailing out…

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  2. Looking forward to this. As a longtime Avengers fan, I feel Aaron has gotten a lot right. While not as massive of a team as Hickman was working with, this really does feel like one of the most impactful rosters/eras. Aaron has Black Panther, king of a powerful nation, as chairman and supplying support staff. And rather than based out of the old Manhattan mansion or Hydro-base or the tower from Bendis’ issues, the group’s HQ is a dead Celestial at the North Pole. There’s also the links to the “Avengers B.C.” concept and new sort-of members like the baby Starbrand and the reborn Phoenix. All of those factors combined make this run stand out. Other writers like Busiek and Hickman really tried to make the Avengers more of a global, then universal force. This feels like a natural progression of that.
    Also can I just say it it SOOOOOOOO NICE to only have one main Avengers book to follow again like in the old days, rather than two, three, four, five different titles.
    And I do love the addition of Blade as a member.
    The one downside, I would say, is the quality of some of Aaron’s individual storylines/issues. While linking the Avengers to the Phoenix force is, in premise, fun and adds to the scope of the title, how Aaron got there was so-so.
    Anyway, it’s nice to have a quality writer on the title thinking big, even if sometimes I enjoy “the forest” of ideas he has more than the individual trees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brian, massive apologies, I thought I’d replied to this. It’s great to hear the positive views on this run, I tried the first few issues, but found the liked of the new Ghost Rider and Blade so in-Avengery… also, the Avengers BC bit wasn’t grabbing me. I should look at a few issues on Marvel Unlimited.

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      1. You can always tell when Aaron has run out of his pitch ideas. Satana’s restaurant in Hell anyone? I think he’s there with Heroes Reborn the exception, since much of the last year has been lesser, like they pushed it back and he had to scrape up filler…

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