Call them "what if" stories, parallel universes, or whatever other name you want, there is something exciting and intriguing about an alternate universe in comics. Generally, these kinds of stories allow for a rich exploration of characters and concepts that the "regular" continuity simply doesn't allow, but they usually have a major drawback in that they're just stories with no strong tie to continuity. That results in stories that are fun distractions which don't possess the same stakes as something from the "real world" as readers know it. Heroes Reborn #1 does not have that weakness. Instead, Jason Aaron has created a vibrant and complex "what if" world that doesn't function as a thought exercise but as an outcome. Someone or something has altered the world and created a reality in which the Avengers never existed, leaving only Blade with his memories and the determination to figure things out.
Jumping right into things, Heroes Reborn #1 wastes little time in establishing that this world is not the same Marvel Comics world readers know so well. It's a pretty hefty task, with Aaron having to establish just how off-normal this reality is while also making it clear that this isn't just some other iteration of things but, instead, something very wrong with reality itself. Fortunately for readers, while there's a lot of ground to cover, Aaron covers it well. He has Blade narrating the things he's witnessing—a Robbie Reyes who isn't Ghost Rider, a Dr. Doom who is now Dr. Juggernaut attacking the White House, a 177A Bleecker Street that's a head shop—in a way that gives context without distracting from how those changes are actually playing out. The result is that readers get to sort out the issues in "real-time" with Blade, coming to the conclusion with him that it all comes down to the absence of Captain America and, because he was never found, the Avengers never existed. It's an approach that, while a little dense, retains the sense of disorientation, but never burdens the reader.
Working well with Blade's narration as well as the contemporary events that Aaron is scripting on-page is the artwork. Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, and Matthew Wilson (pencils, inks, and colors, respectively) create this incredible and substantial visual landscape that feels both vintage and contemporary at the same time. There are elements that have a sinewy feel reminiscent of 90s comics with the tones and hues that draw from multiple eras. A particular standout in this regard is the Silver Witch who really feels like the best of various eras of Marvel put together in one character, visually. Heroes Reborn #1 just looks like a Marvel comic book. There's no other way to say it and it's a good thing.
What works best in Heroes Reborn #1, however, is that while this is yet another event series and the story draws on aspects of current Marvel continuity this first issue is accessible to both readers who buy every single issue every single week and far more casual fans. That aspect of things just puts a nice little bow on a comic that looks good, reads well, and makes the familiar concept of an alternate reality feel fresh.
Published by Marvel Comics
On May 5, 2020
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Ed McGuinness and Mark Morales
Colors by Matthew Wilson0comments
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho