I had planned to review the final “Heroes Reborn” event before I finished Heroes Reborn: The Return. Things did not go as planned thanks to conventions and flare-ups. Well, better late than never.
As you saw in the morning Marvel Tuesday reviews, Heroes Reborn was a good idea marred by terrible writing and even worse artwork. My god, the artwork! It’s like everything wrong with the 90’s poured into every page! There was one last crossover event, “World War 3”, a title so generic that if I ran with it as the article title you would have no idea what comic I was talking about. Every big combat story is World War 3. (Except in a different Star Trek novel, Strangers From The Sky, where a character was forced to ask why he was fighting World War 4. Yes, an actual third world war would not stop us from using this cliché; we’d just change the number.) And yet this was a Marvel/Wildstorm crossover that was purely produced by Marvel and in the regular issues of the four “Heroes Reborn” comics. Why?
Part of this is theory but I do know that at the time Marvel was courting Wildstorm to become a Marvel imprint shortly after Wildstorm’s split from Image Comics. They ended up going with DC, who has now dissolved and absorbed the Wildstorm universe into the New 52 and still nobody cares. (Well, not absolutely nobody, just not enough to keep any of the titles going.) You may have noticed that Wildstorm FX was doing the separations, so it’s possible Marvel wanted them the same way they wanted Malibu’s coloring system and most of you know what happened to them. At least some of the Wildstorm characters still exist. Sadly, it’s Grifter, Voodoo, and Stormwatch plus some random Gen 13 people. I think. I didn’t follow that title or Stormwatch and the only WildCATS I followed was the cartoon. You know, the one with the lame theme song? Oh, I’ve got to review that into someday. Wait, I did!
The review layout is going to be a bit different on this one. Each part took place in a different comic, with the same writer but different art teams. So while I AM reviewing the story as a whole I’ll be listing the credited comics individually. Also, this will be a two-part article, today focusing on the first two chapters and the last two tomorrow.
First some backstory: I didn’t have all the issues of the Galactus Reborn storyline but I do know that Doom’s solution was to continuously go back in time to find the solution to stopping Galactus. According to the catch-up page I wish Marvel was still doing, this led to reality being destabilized and somehow causing a merger with the Wildstorm universe, who was having a cosmic crisis of their own (and I don’t know if anything of this story was showing up in Wildstorm titles of the time), leading to the first comic.
Fantastic Four Vol. 2 #13
Marvel (November, 1997)“Life In Wartime” WRITER: James Robinson PENCILER: Mike Wieringo INKER: Richard Case COLORS: Wildstorm FX LETTERER: Dave Lanphear EDITOR: Ruben Diaz
In this new reality the Skrulls and Daemonites have joined forces to conquer Earth. The only way to tell whether or not someone is a shapeshifter or possessed is a special light, leading to the expression “good light” becoming commonplace. It takes until almost the end of the book before the fake recruitment ads finally tell us this, so if for some reason your brain shuts down and you decided to read this (possibly ensuring it won’t start up again…this is Heroes Reborn, after all) you will know what’s going on long before I did.
Most of this first issue feels like set-up for the rest of the event. The Fantastic Four get back from exploring the Negative Zone and learn something which could lead to the end of the war that they need to tell Nick Fury about. However, Annihilus and Defile try to break through into their world but are stopped thanks to Reed, Johnny, Sue, and Maul. In this reality Maul has joined the Fantastic Four while Ben was lost somewhere in the Negative Zone, which is why the current incarnation of the Four was out there in the first place. Reed gets a call in to SHIELD but Fury is dead, Doom mounting his head on his castle ramparts.
There’s a lot of name-dropping here. In the beginning we see the WildCATS and Dane Withman (in 616 the Black Knight, here leading a special SHIELD team called the Black Knights), Fury’s replacement’s replacement mentions working with Ben in Team 7, and both DV8 and the Defenders (led by Union) were said to have already been lost in battle. Things aren’t going well and Replacement 2 (seriously, I don’t think the guy’s ever named in this comic although the next issue calls him Lynch) wants to merge all the superhero teams into one force. Reed asks him to call all the teams together, getting a role-call of the Avengers, Stormwatch, Wetworks, and the WildCATS. Meanwhile, Lynch charges agent Pris Kitaen to find Iron Man, Majestic and the real Captain America (an android leads the Avengers because they wanted to work Steve becoming Nomad into Reborn somehow), who decided to work on their own.
We also see this reality’s version of Rick Jones and the Wildstorm character Grunge, who want to sign up. Part 1 ends with some Wildstorm character floating around the Negative Zone and coming across the Thing. This might have been a better opening had the explanation of this new world been at the beginning of the book instead of near the end. Also, what part will Rick and Grunge play in this story? Maybe we’ll get a hint in chapter 2.
The Avengers Vol 2 #13
Marvel Comics (November, 1997)“Winning & Losing” WRITER: James Robinson PENCILER: Michael Rayn INKERS: Saleem Crawford & Sal Regla COLORIST: Nathan Lumm COMPUTER COLOR: Wildstorm FX LETTERER: Albert Deschesne ASSISTANT EDITOR: Michelle Upchurch EDITOR: Rachelle Brissenden
Apparently Rick and Grunge have nothing to do with this story. Instead we have the hero teams gathering, except for Wetworks, who have popped over to Europe to take the fight to the Skrulls and Daemonites. Joining the fight is Iron Man, and the group is watched by the others via cameras after some incident involving Deathloks. This is the only annoying namedrop for the hellavit we’ll see this issue. Iron Man and Wetworks are beamed to the Stormwatch satellite where the meeting is being held and Reed tells everyone what’s going on.
(Also, I was wrong. That’s not Johnny with the flame throwing. It’s possibly another Wildstorm character because Reed and Sue tell Iron Man that Johnny was killed and Ben was lost in the Negative Zone during an earlier exploration.)
Reed has learned that at the edge of the Negative Zone are multiple universes and he’s determined that this one is a merger of two universes. Doom appears to be keeping the two together with a device that operates in both the Zone and his castle so the heroes agree on a two-pronged assault–one group attacking Latveria and the other going after the device in the Negative Zone. However, Doom somehow has gotten a spy in their midst (so much for all the villain-scanning gear Reed designed) and as the Zone group move in Doom sends Skrull warships (thanks to the spy taking down the shields) to blow up the satellite. Back in the Negative Zone, we learn Ben has a rocket on him somewhere (I don’t see one, mind you) and the other guy can sense his way to the end of the Negative Zone and back to Earth so Benjy’s coming home!
There are some interesting connections here. With but the art we can tell that Scarlet Witch is involved with the new Captain America, which appears to be Spartan. (Wanda has a thing for machines, and please remember in the comments this is a PG site.) Caitlin meet Roxy and they’re sure they’ve met, but the satellite blows up before they get to explore that deja vu. Tony also mentions that he worked on Brass’s armor. This is slightly better than the previous issue but the action is minimal. Even the fight between Wetworks/Iron Man and Doom’s forces never showed us anything while everyone talks over it like they’re watching a movie or something.
So how does this end? Find out tomorrow for the conclusion of World War 3!