04th Jun2021

‘Heroes Reborn #5’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Jason Aaron | Art by R.M. Guera, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales | Published by Marvel Comics

As event comics go, this has been a pretty fun ride so far. Alongside the main Heroes Reborn book, there have been quite a few one-shots taking longer looks at faces both familiar and not so. All, of course, essentially seeing the Marvel Universe as though it was a DC book. Peter Parker was a thinly veiled Jimmy Olsen for example. Tribute? Pastiche? Affectionate homage? Probably a little of all of these things. The Squadron Supreme of course were literally copies of the Justice League themselves, and it’s been nice to delve into their world a little, albeit one which has been created as a replacement to the ‘real’ world. That will change of course, but for now the Squadron are front and centre.

We get two stories here, the main lead featuring Nighthawk, and a backup continuing the ongoing re-gathering of The Avengers. As a Superman guy I’m more a Hyperion fan, but I have always liked Nighthawk, both the mainstream Marvel Universe version and the Squadron one. Here, Aaron has decided to go with a classic Batman riff. There has been a breakout at Ravencroft Asylum, filled to the brim with all the villains Nighthawk has put there. Sounding familiar? Kyle Richmond is a sort of version of Bruce Wayne, one who went into politics to help people, but also burdened by dead parents he doesn’t believe ever loved him, and so he fights a fight as Nighthawk he will never win. Hollow victories are the best he can ever achieve. Aaron blends Marvel and DC nicely, with a nod to Life Model Decoys, and to a certain Bat-pole (Night-pole?).

So, into the Asylum we go, with villains like The Lizard, Sabretooth and Bullseye out for Nighthawk’s blood as he fights his way through. There’s also a fun little nod to Nighthawk being the one who previously wore a symbiote costume that turned bad. Heh. The madness continues as The Goblin, a thinly veiled Joker, threatens to kill Dr. Gwen Stacy, who had been Nighthawk’s sidekick Nightbird. This Goblin murdered The Falcon, and the Goblin serum had driven him totally insane. I must admit, the story is pretty basic here, but I’m enjoying the fun Aaron is clearly having creating this Marvel/DC amalgam world. By story’s end, Nighthawk is left facing the fact that this world isn’t right, that it ‘s wrong and he has been avoiding that fact for too long.

The short backup sees Black Panther become the latest Avenger to be found by Blade and Captain America, after disguising himself as Ronin and fighting Nighthawk to a stalemate at Squadron HQ. keeps the vibe of ‘getting the gang back together’ that’s been steadily building through the books. Although this isn’t the best thing around at the moment, it is solid entertainment, and great fun. I think I’m enjoying the back story and set up as much as the ongoing storyline, but that’s no less valid a reason to pick this up. Aaron’s having a ball designing all this, and Guera did an excellent job on the visuals, the grittier darker style suiting the Batman tone for the story. The colour work by Giulia Brusco is also excellent, adding to the mood Guera sets up with the fine layouts and pacing. McGuiness and Morales work on the backup is of course excellent.

I’ve been enjoying the whole multi-book Heroes Reborn storyline for several weeks now, but the same way I would a burger and fries. Nice in the moment, tasty, but ultimately not quite as fulfilling as you anticipated it was going to be.

Let’s see if Aaron can supersize the fun for the start of the run-in to the wrap up.

***½  3.5/5

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