Welcome to the Marvel Rundown! We’re trying something a little different this week. Instead of taking a look at one book in particular, we decided to delve into the Heroes Reborn event so far, consisting of two main issues and two rather good tie-ins, and analyse why this event is honestly a lot more engaging than a lot of Marvel’s more recent events.
We’ve got all that and some quick thoughts on some books in the Rapid Rundown section, all ahead in this week’s instalment of the Marvel Rundown!
Heroes Reborn debuted less than a month after the conclusion of Marvel’s latest event, King in Black, and that is pretty odd. To start, they’re both not “original events.” They both stem from their respective runs, Donny Cates’ Venom and Jason Aaron’s Avengers, but what sets Heroes Reborn apart from King in Black is that it isn’t necessarily drawing the Marvel Universe as we know it to its centre. It’s an alternate reality story, one that I admittedly was not looking forward to at all given how I feel about Aaron’s run on the title, and quite frankly might be Marvel’s most unique event in years. There’s no invading army, no dome around the world that allies can’t access, no charismatic yet creepy villain that has readers wondering if their heroes can even stop them. This is a story where one dude, Blade, knows that there’s something seriously wrong with everything, and that he somehow needs to set it right.
The highlight of the event so far, in its second week, has been its tie-ins: Hyperion & the Imperial Guard by Ryan Cady, Michele Bandini, Elisabetta D’Amico, Erick Arciniega, and Cory Petit, & Peter Parker: The Amazing Shutterbug by Marc Bernardin, Rafael De LaTorre, Ron Lim, Scott Hanna, Jim Campbell, and Ariana Maher. These books has more or less confirmed a thought that I’ve been echoing internally for a couple of years, which was well articulated in a wonderful article/discussion by Vishal Gullapalli and Ritesh Babu, that Aaron is clearly very inspired by the DC Universe when it comes to his take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and that Heroes Reborn serves as an unequivocal, “What if Marvel… but DC?”
The Squadron Supreme appeared early on in Aaron’s run, which invited some fun commentary into the fundamental difference between Marvel and DC’s superhero universes, but this event just smashes them together in a really refreshingly obvious way. You’ve got Hyperion who has always been a Superman analogue, various members of the Squadron who very closely reflect DC characters like Wonder Woman and Batman, and, uh, Peter Parker is Jimmy Olsen. On top of that, you’ve got this, frankly, very Injustice layer of darkness settled in on top of everything. In Hyperion’s tie-in, he loses the love of his life and his close allies in a fight with the Brood, and later on comes across as very aggressive and unforgiving despite his image as America’s premier superhero. Peter photographs Hyperion and other superheroes for the Daily Bugle, but secretly hates Hyperion because his actions during a big fight lead to the death of Aunt May. It skirts on the edge of grimdark, like with the scene where Hyperion absolutely eviscerates the Hulk with his laser-eyes while he cries out for Steve Rogers’ help, confused as to why everything is wrong in the world. Again, very Injustice.
The artwork is obviously a major stopgap in the comparison going too far. Dale Keown, Carlos Magno, Ed McGuinness, and Ron Lim are all pretty established Marvel artists and their designs and figures certainly keep the Marvel spirit intact. I just wish that, only two issues in, the event had a little more artistic consistency. The lead story is already being handled by two artists while McGuinness is drawing a short coda.
As I mentioned before, a huge positive is how different this event is from more recent events. Even events with good openers like Empyre follow the same formula, so I like how Heroes Reborn is seemingly going to play out at a slower pace. I’m sure it’ll get in a big climactic battle, but I sure hope there’s not going to be a generic army for our heroes to take on.
I really recommend this event so far, though I said the same of Empyre last year and it didn’t turn out so well. The main issues have been pretty strong and the tie-ins both tell a singular story and give a little more background and flavour to the world and characters. It’s certainly the best that Jason Aaron has been in a while.
- Children of the Atom #3
- Three issues into this series and things are starting to pick up. The structure of the series, with each issue narrated by a different member of the team as a way of introducing them to readers, continues to be a clever way to get to know these brand-new characters, and Vita Ayala‘s character work even outside of the narration has been pretty solid throughout. It’s a little disappointing to see a fill-in art team so soon on this book, but Paco Medina and David Curiel do a fine job maintaining some visual consistency with the series’ regular art team. Still, there are a lot of mysteries in this series that feel more like a hinderance to the story than a compelling reason to keep reading at this point. The flashbacks in this week’s issue seem like the beginning of clearing up the central mystery of the series, but the sequence also raises a ton of new questions. Hopefully things will begin to make more sense soon, and this series can push forward in a meaningful way. —JG
- Star Wars #13
- This issue has Luke, Chewbacca, C3-P0, and R2-D2 traveling to Nar Shaddaa following the events of the War of the Bounty Hunters – Alpha, to investigate a lead in their search for Han Solo and his captor the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett. The Star Wars books have had a very tight continuity since the majority of the comics have come back to the Marvel banner and the War of the Bounty Hunters storyline makes it feel like a Marvel stun, for good or bad. Right now Marvel’s creative lineup is possibly the best squad of Force nerds for this, and if they can sustain this level of craftsmanship, then I look forward to the other 32 books in this event. Hats off to writer Charles Soule, artist Ramon Rosanas, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg for, without spoiling too much, this issue’s very cool, possibly iconic, lightsaber moments. —GC3
Next week, Heroes Reborn continues, and Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters finally debuts!