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Comic Book / Heroes Reborn

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Everything that was wrong with "Heroes Reborn" in a single image, beyond the apparent Youngblood's Disease.note 
Heroes Reborn was a 1996-1997 crossover story arc among comic-book series published by the American company Marvel Comics. During this one-year, multi-title story arc, Marvel temporarily outsourced the production of several of its most famous comic books to the studios of its popular former employees Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld.

Following the apparent deaths of The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Doctor Doom battling Onslaught in Onslaught: Marvel Universe, they were "reborn" and certain aspects of their earlier stories were expanded with the intent of telling their adventures anew for modern generations. This was eventually explained, in-story, as their having been transported into a pocket universe by Franklin Richards, the near-omnipotent, psychic son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, to save them, where they lived in the so-called "Franklin-verse", oblivious to what had happened to them. Once the contract for the titles expired, the heroes were brought back to the mainstream Marvel Universe in the miniseries Heroes Reborn: The Return (or simply Heroes Return).

Doctor Doom returned to this universe in a series of one shots and found it in ruins with supervillains running rampant. He eventually managed to bring this Earth into the main Marvel Universe, taking the position of its new Counter-Earth.


An Onslaught Reborn miniseries featured an alternate version of the Heroes Reborn universe.

There's also a 2018 storyline of Fantastic Four involving the Heroes Reborn universe.

Not to be confused with Heroes Reborn, the Sequel Series to Heroes.


  • Adaptation Name Change: Rikki's father is implied to be the HR version of Bucky Barnes—only his first name is Richard instead of James.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection:
    • It's the presence of Doctor Doom's minions which forces Reed to fly the ship with Ben, Johnny and Sue to reach a cosmic anomaly before they can destroy it. Besides, the anomaly turns out to be Silver Surfer.
    • Tony Stark is forced to don his "Promethium" Powered Armor when he's critically wounded investigating a Hydra attack on one of his facilities where Bruce Banner, his browbeaten subordinate and former friend, was creating a gamma bomb. Meanwhile, Bruce's accident happens while he's trying to keep the sabotaged bomb from killing innocents when it explodes. Iron Man and the Hulk literally name each other when they meet at the end of the first issue, and the Hulk is a major subplot in the Iron Man title as Tony tries to help Bruce.
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  • Adaptational Villainy: In this continuity, Mantis is Kang's lover and partner rather than an Avenger.
  • Age Lift:
    • Reed Richards, who is middle-aged in the comics (as the grey streaks are the result of age) is more much closer in age to Sue.
    • The Vision is actually older than Ultron in this, as Ultron was created in this reality to replace Vision as Hank Pym's lab assistant.
  • Amnesia Danger: Captain America. Heroes Reborn started with him as an ordinary family man with a loving wife and son — who dreamed of World War II battlefields each night. He eventually learned that SHIELD had mindwiped him to keep him under control, and that his wife and son were Life Model Decoy robots.
  • The Atoner: Tony Stark.
  • Badass Beard: This is the first place that Tony Stark started to sport one in addition to Badass Mustache. Notable because (aside undoing the mutated Wasp and Teen!Tony from The Crossing), it was carried other when the heroes returned to the normal Marvel Universe. It's also become so linked to the character that Ultimate Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, and many other recent incarnations have defaulted to it for Tony.
  • The Berserker: Thor
  • Big "NO!": When giant Loki turned to his back and saw a giant Odin, ready to defy him. "No! It's impossible!"
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The Swordsman, an ordinary human with nothing but, well, swords, tries to attack Hulk. How else did you expect it to finish?
  • Brother–Sister Incest: When an alternate version of the Heroes Reborn universe's Rikki Barnes is stranded in the mainline Marvel Universe, she meets John Barnes, an alternate version of her brother. Unlike her real brother, who was a criminal, a wannabe Neo-Nazi, and a rather unpleasant person in general, MU!John was kind and helpful. Seeing this as a chance to have the kind of caring brother-sister relationship she never had with her real brother, Rikki befriended John. Unfortunately, this John never had a sister, and he misinterpreted Rikki's intentions. He eventually tried to kiss her. When the shocked Rikki tries to tell him that she couldn't love him that way, John doesn't take it well. At all.
  • Captain Ersatz: Rikki Barnes took inspiration from Carrie Kelly, the original female Robin from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Rikki would receive her own Captain Ersatz, a teen heroine named S.P.I.C.E., in Rob Liefeld's later Fighting American series. This is due to Liefeld recycling art from his unfinished Captain America run.
  • Canon Character All Along: Swordsman was initially the only Avenger without a clear Earth-616 counterpart (the original Swordsman was a villain who had died years earlier). In the later Heroes Reborn: Remnants series, it was revealed he was his Earth's counterpart of Deadpool.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The finale featured a herald for Galactus named Plasma.
    • The first Captain America issue after the change from Liefeld to Wildstorm also introduced two characters named Colonel von Wagner and Iron Valkyrie into Reborn Cap's World War II backstory.
    • Iron Man's backstory involved a character named Connor "Rebel" O'Reilly, who, in the Heroes Reborn universe, was the first to have worn what'd become the Iron Man armor.
  • Canon Immigrant: Rikki proved to be popular enough that years later, she made the jump to the 616 canon.
  • Composite Character:
    • Hellcat has the codename and civilian identity (Patsy Walker) of her Earth-616 counterpart, but is a werecat like Tigra.
    • As mentioned under "Canon Character All Along", Swordsman was revealed to be Wade Wilson.
    • Combining this with Decomposite Character, Hank Pym takes Ultron's role as the creator of The Vision.
    • While ultimately averted, the issue before the change from Liefeld to Walt Simsonson for Avengers hinted that Hawkeye was a different person than Clint Barton, as a flashback in the issue sees Hawkeye and a man called Reaper trying to infiltrate HYDRA, only to be caught and Reaper getting part of his right arm shot off and Hawkeye telling him something important, but the simulation is interrupted by Hellcat, the implication that "Reaper" was the HR version of the Grim Reaper and hence, Hawkeye was Simon Williams, as opposed to Clint Barton (or at the very lest, given a Wonder Man does appear in it, that Hakweye and Grim Reaper are Related in the Adaptation). However, because of the change, Hawkeye was shown to be Clint Barton, as always.
    • Mantis is the object of Kang's desires as well as his primary source of motivation, essentially making her this reality's version of Princess Ravonna. This is also reflective of the Mantis seen The Crossing before Avengers Forever retconned that Crossing!Mantis was a Space Phantom.
    • While he'd later make it so his condition was similar to his 616-self, Doc Samson was the Abominaton.
  • Counter-Earth: As mentioned in the main article, Doctor Doom eventually brought the entire Heroes Reborn Earth into the 616 universe, placing it in the position of its original Counter-Earth.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • As mentioned in "Composite Character", Ultron's role as the Vision's creator is taken by Hank Pym. In fact, as mentioned under "Age Lift", Ultron is actually younger than Vision in this, as Ultron was created to replace Vision as Hank's assistant.
    • As in The Incredible Hulk Returns before it and the Marvel Cinematic Universe since, Donald Blake is a separate person from Thor.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Reed Richards, Victor Von Doom, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Henry Pym studied together when they went to college. They even called themselves "The Atomic Knightsnote  of the Round Table" before drifting apart.
  • The Faceless: Hawkeye. In Onslaught Reborn it becomes a plot point (sorta), when he is revealed to actually be Wolverine.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: As in The Kree/Skrull War, Henry Pym made a voyage inside the Vision, to repair him. But, being a 90's comic book, it was hardly fantastic.
  • Fifth Week Event: Although Heroes Reborn was only scheduled for twelve issues, each title had a thirteenth issue inserted that was an Intercontinuity Crossover with WildStorm's characters, called "World War III". The Heroes Reborn Earth was also the subject of another Fifth Week Event in 2000.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Onslaught
  • Going to Give It More Energy: The defeat of Galactus. But Galactus consumes planets, and a mere group of super powered beings are supposed to be capable of generating even more than that, exponentially more than that? Clearly Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The Heroes Reborn take on the Galactus saga. In each of the four titles, the heroes face the threat of Galactus, almost defeat him before being curbstomped, and as dinner starts, Doctor Doom fires up his time machine to try another plan in another title, saying "Time and time again."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Bucky rammed the Fantasticar into Onslaught, sending them both into the Negative Zone at the end of Onslaught Reborn. Somehow he wound up in the main Marvel Universe.
  • In Name Only: Most versions of the group called "Hulkbusters" are teams dedicated to trying to take out the Hulk. Here, the Hulkbusters are a trio of gamma-irritated people, including the Hulk himself (the other two being She-Hulk and Doc Samson).
  • Informed Ability: Captain America's leadership. They all praise it, they are all amazed by it, but consider the results. He unleashed a barbaric berserker with super-strength to the world. He can't get Hawkeye and Swordman to follow his command. He let Kang escape. He attacked Hulk... and you may imagine how does that end. Thor, unable to kill, left the team... and he let him go (who began a brawl at some random bar, something that anyone would have guessed it would happen in the immediate future). By not giving room to Hawkeye, he made him resented, a thing that Loki exploited. He did not notice that Hellcat was missing, which led to a disaster. And so on, and so on... Perhaps putting Hawkeye in command wasn't such a bad idea after all: it seems unlikely he could do it worse.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Captain America, of all people. An archeology expedition found Thor trapped in amber, and called the Avengers. Captain America rushed to the attack, to liberate him... and only after they do so, he stops to reconsider if liberating a superpowerful berserker from the Viking age was really a good idea.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Things began simple and ordered, with a small sample of characters and each one with an origin story, and then Walt Simonson began to introduce old villains by loads, all taken from out of nowhere. And yet, that was actually the case. Realizing the nature of the universe, Loki was summoning reflections of characters from the "main" universe, to contribute to his master plan.
  • Magic Versus Science:
    • First mentioned by the Vision. Thor does not understand his "magic" entrance, so he explains that it's not magic but science. Loki gets rid of him with a magic bolt, and finally gets defeated by a spell of the Scarlet Witch.
    • Kang captured the Avengers, but nothing can keep Mjölnir out of Thor's hands, no even the XXX century technology.
    • Agatha Harkness appears at the Avengers mansion, and requests to see the Scarlet Witch. The robot in the door does not allow her to pass... so she simply goes intangible and pass.
    • Loki gets inside Kang's ship, ignoring his defenses, and absorbs Kang and Mantis without problem.
    • Loki gets in the helicarrier's cells, ignoring the guards at the door, and absorbs Modok. Angered by that disappearance, Nick Fury doubles the guards, both inside and outside the cell... and all guards fall unconscious when he absorbs the next pack of prisoners.
    • Henry Pym realizes the magical use of the Vision done by Loki, and makes him explode, foiling his scheme.
    • The Avengers trick Loki into lowering the shield of his source of power, greatly reducing it, and the big shots from the helicarrier take him down.
  • Medium Awareness
    Loki: The answer, my dear Executioner, is that we are not Asgardians, but projections of someone's wild imagination. But, like Pinocchio, I intend to become a real boy!
  • Military Superhero: The Falcon is a pilot for the U.S. Navy, and his Codename is taken from his military call sign. Surprisingly (given the Heroes Reborn line's Dork Age status), both of these elements were used in the Ultimate comics and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (though in those examples, he served in S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Air Force respectively instead of the Navy).
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Swordsman is sure that he had seen Mantis, Kang's lover, before. In the main continuity, she was his girlfriend, and Kang tried to abduct her many times during The Celestial Madonna Saga.
    • Henry Pym reduced his size and got into the Vision, to see what was malfunctioning in him. He's sure he did something like that before... he did, during The Kree/Skrull War.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Gamma Core, the nuclear reactor powering Avengers Island, turns out to be this, explaining why there is a nuclear reactor near Manhattan.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: When things began, Henry Pym and Janet Van Dyne had no super powers, they were just a scientist and his wife. Pym tested a particle to reduce his size and get inside the Vision... and Janet, when she need it, reduced to wasp size, with no reason or explanation. May be explained with the change of writers, as Pym was already Ant-Man when Simonson replaced the disgraced Liefeld, and perhaps he was not informed of this change at the new universe (he must had thought that he working with Pym and Wasp of always)
  • One-Winged Angel: Loki becomes all-powerful, and a giant. Justified in his case, after all he's the son of giants.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: The Avengers begin with a Berserker Thor, and some time later they get the regular Thor as well. Berserker Thor does not like his Knight in Shining Armor doppelgänger very much...
  • Ret-Canon:
    • If one thing has stuck from Heroes Reborn (besides the return of adult!Tony and normal looking!Wasp), it's Tony sporting a Badass Beard in addition to his Badass Mustache. It's become so linked to the character that many recent incarnations, including the Ultimate Marvel and Marvel Cinematic Universe versions, have had Tony with it.
    • While it could just be a coincidence, when the Ultimate Marvel imprint decided to reimagine the Avengers into The Ultimates, it reused the idea originally presented here of S.H.I.E.L.D. helping to set up the team. The Live-Action Adaptation of The Avengers reused the idea, though it was likely inspired by The Ultimates.
    • As pointed out in "Military Superhero", The Falcon having served in the military was also imported to the Ultimate Universe and the MCU.
    • Heroes Reborn also introduced the idea of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner being close friends, an idea that was later used prominently in the Avengers movies. In the classic continuity, Bruce and Tony don't like each other at all.
    • After the changeover from Liefeld to Lee, an LMD of Fury lied and said Captain America was put in suspended animation by President Truman after a disagreement over the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chuck Austen attempted to integrated the idea as fact into the mainstream continuity during the controversial "Ice" story arc, where it was revealed that the government had Cap frozen so that he couldn't stop the atom bombs from being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course, the story was so reviled that it was later rendered Canon Discontinuity, but still.
  • Revisiting the Roots: "Heroes Reborn" made many controversial changes, and Walter Simonson tried to make thing a bit "right" again. Captain America took out the wings from the front of his mask, which were not right for some reason, and retrieved the classic big "A". As for Thor, Simonson's favourite character turned into a berserker, he brought instead the "real" Thor, who appears as a second character.
  • Series Continuity Error: She-Hulk and The Inhumans are shown as one of the returning heroes once the storyline ends, even though only Crystal was one of the Avengers killed during the battle with Onslaught, with Jen and the other Inhumans having stayed out of the battle.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: At the time, anyway, given that Captain America towards the end of HR met Rikki's parents, her dad is implied to Bucky Barnes, before Captain America: Winter Soldier retconned that 616!Bucky was instead still alive as the (albeit brainwashed) eponymous villain.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: So, Loki became a giant and is walking in the city, Godzilla-style. Who can stop him? Of course, a giant Odin!
  • That Man Is Dead: "Hulk is not BruceBannerHulk! HULK IS HULK!
  • Ultimate Universe: Before Marvel's Ultimate Universe proper, Heroes Reborn was meant as an example of this trope.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Who would have thought Loki would be this type of guy? When he became an invincible giant, he called his father's name, in a "look what I have achieved" stance. Of course, when we talk about Loki's father, we don't talk about Odin, but Laufey, the frost giant.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: With his new arrows, allies and element of surprise, Hawkeye was taking the Avengers down one by one, and pointed that "This is just too easy!". Cue for Captain America attacking him from the back, getting the bow out of his hands.

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