Blade funds himself on a world he hardly recognises. A work in which the Avengers were never formed thereby creating an alternate timeline full of colourful, creative hybrid heroes. And villains. A fun first issue that leans heavily on showcasing this brave new world, with plot points included for later development. A soldi first issue with exceptional art and dialogue from Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness
With both Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness behind Marvel’s latest event series I was always going to pick up they curio of a comic book that is Heroes Reborn #1. Like many comic book fans I’m a sucker for alternate realities which bring with them alternate takes on icons characters. And that’s exactly the appeal of Heroes Reborn for many I dare say. Along with the creative team.
Posing the question of what a world without the Avengers would look like – and answering it with a parade of hybrid new heroes and villains – is the central premise to this issue and one that gives Aaron and McGuinness the chance to rebuild the Marvel universe in their own image. A fanboy’s wet dream made real! Well, for the seven-issue this weekly mini-series is scheduled to run. As such, this first oversized issue offers readers a good look at this new reality, and in doing so sets up the pieces for multiple storylines – and tie-ins – although all these set-up set pieces detract from any real substantial storyline in this debut issue.
Don’t get me wrong, this first issue entertains, but it’s more a showcase for the new character designs and McGuinness’ bombastic, energetic art, with plenty of dynamic double pages offering up a good look at each new character. The double-whammy reveal the last page is more than enough to bring me back for next week’s issue, when the real nitty gritty will begin in earnest, I imagine. And I’m cool with that. McGuinness’ art is the real star of this debut issue, but I imagine that will level up once this series gets properly warmed up.
What’s more, a big tick for me is how Aaron captures the various voices of the cast brilliantly. Hyperion comes off as a more pompous Superman while Blade’s speech is evocative of his gothic origins, with language dripping in imagery associated with the macabre. It’s a brilliant piece of scripting – especially given how big his cast of characters is – and worth pointing out as a huge strength of Aaron’s storytelling. And this issue is full of such incidents.
And it’s Blade who is the central figure in this storyline. A man who woke up to find himself on an Earth he does not recognise. Not entirely anyway. He does know where to find particular people, even if they do not recognise him because their own situation has changed because the Avengers never formed. Such as Robbie Reyes – aka Ghost Rider – who’s just a kid on a BMX and freaked out by the sudden appearance of this fearless vampire hunter.
With the Squadron Supreme having formed on this Earth ahead of any thought of the Avengers, we learn that the Hulk was swiftly dealt with and exiled to the Negative Zone, while Tony Stark never took shrapnel to the chest and thereby continued down the line of arms dealer and functioning alcoholic. And speaking of alcoholics, wait until you meet this universe’s Thor. But, there is already an answer to this dilemma, and there alway has been. A world without the Avengers? Well, that’s the DCU right, and the Justice League of America? A salient thought I could not help think given the prominence of the Squadron Supreme at the hear of this world’s evolution; themselves cheap knock-offs of DC Comics’ premier super team. This is the Amalgam Universe but without the inclusion of DC Comics characters. So, case closed, right?
Heroes Reborn #1 is out now from Marvel Comics