USA Today has provided a preview of the upcoming Marvel Heroic Age due to premier in the coming months. After the Avengers were disassembled, the Civil War split the superhero community in two and the Skrull Invasion provided the perfect opportunity for Norman Osborn to start his Dark Reign of villainy… things have been bad. But apparently after the Siege of Asgard the deck will be reshuffled in favor of the ‘good guys.’
Marvel superheroes are leaving the dark side.
After seven years of grim and grimmer story lines, including a superhero “civil war” that pitted Iron Man against Spider-Man and the death of Captain America, Marvel Comics will usher in a more optimistic “Heroic Age” approach in May.
“Heroes will be heroes again,” says Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada. “They’ve gone through hell and they’re back to being good guys — a throwback to the early days of the Marvel Universe, with more of a swashbuckling feel.”
The change begins with a relaunch of Avengers #1, which will reunite Iron Man, a reborn Captain America and Thor as comrades rather than foes.
All this would be of interest only to comic fans except it comes just months after Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion and as Iron Man 2 and other Marvel films are on the way.
It also could mark a major shift in comic book storytelling, which took a turn to grittier stories after the success of DC’s The Dark Knight Returns and Marvel’s more adult take on Daredevilin the 1980s.
Quesada says that Marvel’s return to “good guys” was in the works for two years, was finalized eight months ago and that the Disney takeover had no role.
“There is no sanitizing of the Marvel books at all,” he says, promising stories will remain “edgy” and contemporary. “Our philosophy here is to just keep telling good stories.”
Quesada pushed a complete makeover for Spider-Man two years ago in a “Brand New Day” story line, which wiped out Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane and repositioned the hero as the teenage loner he was in the 1960s.
In the upcoming Avengers’ story line, however, the changes will remain in continuity and will not be a “reboot” of the franchises involved.
Likely to give the “Heroic Age” considerable fanboy cred will be the participation of writer Brian Michael Bendis, who was chief architect of the “disassembly” of the Marvel Universe in the first place. Most recently, he has overseen the “Dark Reign” story line where villain Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin) has taken charge of the superhero community. That approach ends with the “Heroic Age.”
“The ‘brand new day’ of the Heroic Age presents a tonal shift to optimism, a world filled with hope but quite hellish villains,” Bendis says. “The heroes realize it’s a blue-sky world worth protecting.”
Bendis says the story line was approved long before the sale to Disney. “This was always the plan, and I have the memos to prove it,” he says with a laugh.
“This was always the whole point — the reunion, the Avengers getting back together, because this is what the world needs right now,” Bendis says. “Now we get to the good stuff.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that this story began seven years ago and that it has been an interconnected tale all the way through with each series relating to the other in a thematic rather than plot-point driven manner. That translates roughly into the fact that you don’t NEED to read every Marvel comic to know what is going on but if you read a few you get a cohesive feeling that it is all related and planned out by editorial (unlike some companies I could name). I know that the Civil War and Death of Captain America have polarized some fans, but to me they have provided magnificent story telling opportunities. Marvel has utilized these ideas to tell some really thrilling stories rather than just use them as gimmicks to sell books… though that has worked out well too.
New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Dark Avengers and Avengers: Initiative will all be seeing their last issues shortly. This too may sound like a gimmick, but it all makes sense to me. Each series has shed a different light on the idea of what the Avengers are over the years and it makes sense that after Captain America, Thor and Iron Man reunite for the first time in seven long years, it will all be different.
Just don’t cancel Thunderbolts, guys.