April 18, 2024

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Noteworthy Issues: Heroes Reborn #7 (June, 2021)

The Squadron Supreme compare notes and realize they need to take down a group known only as the Avengers.

OK, for the most part, I’ve liked this look at the Marvel Universe if it were a dystopian version of the DC Universe.  But all things like this must come to an end, so what does that mean?

Issue:  Heroes Reborn #7, June 2021

Writer:  Jason Aaron

Artists:  Ed McGuinness and Aaron Kuder

The Plot:  The Squadron Supreme are all rather suspicious of some mysterious group they’ve never heard of before, some folks called the Avengers…

Commentary:  Well, for all that this is the last issue titled Heroes Reborn, it’s not the last issue of the story.  That’s still to come.  And thanks to the fact I read Jason Aaron’s big Avengers #50, an issue that acted as part one to a new story and the last part to a story titled “World War She-Hulk,” I can say that the Squadron will still be hanging around when all this is over.  But they don’t quite seem to be the real villains here.

To be clear, the Squadron are not heroes in the classic sense.  They’re violent, destructive, and not afraid of a little homicide here and there.  This issue shows Power Princess killing Norman Osborne, suggests Norman talked Wanda Maximoff into killing herself, and shows Hyperion basically burned Groot to ash in orbit.  Hyperion was supposed to be the one reluctant to use lethal force but not unwilling, and both Zarda and Dr. Spectrum are hardly the stuff of heroes.   The former just loves to fight and the latter is a judgmental nationalist.  The Blur and Nighthawk might be a bit different, but they don’t exactly say much to stop their teammates from dispensing with lethal force.  This team may call themselves the Squadron Supreme, but they are very much more like the Squadron Sinister if that group was more inclined to be less villains and more antiheroes.

Then again, while the aforementioned Avengers issue did show the Squadron still alive…well, let’s just say at least one of them wasn’t by the time that issue was complete and leave it at that.  And, quite frankly, if one of them had to die, it was the one who perhaps most had it coming.

No, instead, this issue is there to show numerous flashbacks to past Squadron adventures, filling in more holes for this universe.  There was still a superhero Civil War, but the two lead combatants were Hyperion and Nighthawk.  The Blur was married to Mary Jane Watson, and she seems to be dead thanks to something involving Mephisto.  Wolverine has been leading a guerilla-style war against the Squadron from Canada as the leader of the dwindling Alpha Flight.  In fact, this week’s lone tie-in, arguably the weakest tie-in of the entire event, was about Wolverine and his team trying to prevent the Squadron from completing the conquest of Canada, here being taken over for its natural resources.

Instead, as the Squadron scrambles, the real villain is clearly the same character the story has been implying all along:  Phil Coulson.  He even murders his Vice President and Press Secretary (Thunderbolt Ross and J Jonah Jameson) because they overheard the Squadron asking about a group called the “Avengers”.  Who are the Avengers?  The Squadron has never heard of them, even asking what these people could possibly be avenging in the first place, but that does put them on edge with signs of the Starbrand on Earth, that god Power Princess fought in the ruins of Asgard, the star-spangled shield Nighthawk saw in some security footage the night Echo disappeared from Ravencroft sanitarium, and whatever is happening in the mysterious land of Wakanda.  The Squadron seems to be collectively realizing their world is “wrong”.

Sadly, the many brief flashbacks, all designed to give more of a glimpse of this world, seem to be there to stretch out the narrative a bit.  It’s basically known Phil Coulson made some kind of deal with Mephisto for some unknown reason, something implied heavily in the aforementioned Avengers #50 to have something to do with the concept of heroism itself, one that changed the history of the universe, making Coulson the president and the Squadron the only real heroes in the world.  And as heroes, the Squadron have a lot to answer for.

Good thing Blade put a team together.

Grade:  C+