How many TVs was that again? The Heroes Reborn roundtable, week 3

Carla, Tom, Shane and JK assemble once again to discuss Marvel’s latest comics event.

Time for round three of our Heroes Reborn roundtable, where we break down the latest Marvel crossover issue by issue. This week Shane Bailey, Tom Bondurant, Carla Hoffman and I talk about Heroes Reborn #3, which puts the spotlight on the super-speedster, Blur, and the more mystical elements of the Marvel Universe.

You can read part one of our roundtable discussions here and part two here.

So grab your copies and let’s jump in …

JK Parkin: Last week only brought one issue to talk about, as Heroes Reborn #3 is the only release — the Magneto tie-in issue has been pushed back to this week. Which is ok, because I think Heroes Reborn #3 is my favorite issue of this event so far.

I’ll give a lot of credit to Federico Vicentini, who drew a wonderfully weird and fun Dread Dimension, and also really captured the kinetic energy of our “hero,” Blur, in this issue. I thought the writing and dialogue were solid on this as well; it reminded me of those early issues of the Wally West Flash comic by Mike Baron, which would focus on what it’s like to live life at super speed. My only complaint about the main story would be the Silver Witch, who could have been fleshed out more and made to be a bit more sympathetic.

What did you guys think?

Shane Bailey: Yeah the art by Federico was excellent; I agree 100% there. I actually really enjoyed this story and felt like we got a lot more about what makes Blur tick than the Hyperion issue did for that character. I definitely got those Mike Baron Flash vibes, too, but didn’t realize that’s what it was until you just said it. Silver Witch was the weak point of the issue, as she’s just a foil without any real character work being done.

I thought the mashups or changes were a lot more creative this issue. Ghost Runner and the Dread Dimension were both interesting. I have to agree with you that this is my favorite issue so far, and I kind of want to read more about Blur going forward.

I’m still really disappointed in the backup stories, though. If they just show up, talk to a character for a second and that’s it, why bother? Just tell us they did that and don’t waste those pages. It just feels like the whole event is a reason to tell stories about the Squadron, and the Avengers stuff was just thrown in last second.

Tom Bondurant: Part of me thinks that’s the point, going back to Aaron’s comments about World’s Finest back in the day. That series gave readers a handful of distinct but interconnected stories which showed off DC’s superhero books circa 1979, and Heroes Reborn is doing something similar for the Mephist-ized (I presume) Earth-616.

I liked the mystic version of Wally West Flash although it wasn’t what I was expecting. To be fair, my platonic ideal of the Barry Allen Flash is those Cary Bates/Irv Novick issues from the early 1970s, which combine sitcom tropes with square-jawed science-hero adventure. That would have been hard to pull off in 2021. This was definitely Mike Baron Wally with a dash of short-attention-span Bart Allen, very self-absorbed and stream of consciousness-y. Also agree on the dynamic art, which gave impressions of the Dread Dimension without doing a full-on Steve Ditko pastiche. And as much as I like the Scarlet Witch, it’s not hard to make her into a villainess, especially with a fridged Quicksilver. I enjoyed this issue more than the Hyperion spotlights of last week, because Aaron and company made the Blur appealing almost in spite of himself.

JK Parkin: I’ll agree with that; the Blur was definitely more likable than Hyperion. The issues he has because of his powers made him more sympathetic. Also his memory issues help answer a question we had from last week, about whether the Squadron knows reality has been altered in their favor. We know that Nighthawk knows, and most likely Coulson, as well as Blade and now Phoenix. But if Blur knew, he seems to have forgotten, which I thought was appropriate. How many TVs was that again?

Carla Hoffman: 48!

This third issue had a lot of work to do; after the disappointments of the last two, I really needed this issue of Heroes Reborn to kick it up a notch. Wow me. Turn this rather self-indulgent little tale of heroes I don’t honestly care about into a grander narrative and… I’m sold.

I kind of get this now! There does seem to be some purpose to this altered dimension and a grander force at work that brought us to this point. Maybe the marketing leaned too hard on “The Avengers Never Assembled,” that all the heroes we were used to like Tony Stark and Carol Danvers weren’t going to have found their destinies as powered superheroes, but that whole new people have come to take their place and not just put the Squadron Supreme on the map as the World’s Greatest, but that other heroes who live in the shadows of the Avengers will be stepping up to new and exciting roles! This isn’t about the heroes who aren’t here, it’s about the ones who are.

Blade getting his little band of — Revengers? Avenging heroes? I can’t say — is doing a much better job at spotlighting oddballs from Jason Aaron’s run than the Avengers comics where the ideas were first planted. A short backup story gives me a better idea of Maya Lopez (Echo, currently the host of the Phoenix) as an up-and-coming powerhouse, and next issue is going to give us the infamous Starbrand so maybe this whole event is just to bring together all the seeds Aaron’s been dropping his whole run. Just having an idea of why this story is being told, I have a better handle on how to approach the series.

This issue finally brought the fun by combining the Flash and (of all people) Doctor Strange; seeing the Speed Force as the Mystic Arts is a unique take and I’m digging it the whole way through the main story. Seeing how I didn’t read the particularly referenced Flash comics (sorry, I only got in via Mark Waid and Geoff Johns), I found the dialogue to be kind of annoying and repetitive but, I suppose, that’s the point.

Wanda wasn’t the purpose of this issue so I see why she’s not exactly fleshed out as a villainess. This whole story isn’t about the characters we’re seeing, it’s about the ones we’re not…

Tom Bondurant: Speaking of Waid, I just realized that the Ancient One has become the Zen Master of Speed. That was a nice nod to Max Mercury.

Shane Bailey: Ha! That’s true. Good catch.

Carla Hoffman: They did a great job of weaving the Speed Force in the with Mystic Arts; just blatant enough that the casuals can catch it and Easter eggs for the hard core fan. I’m kinda mad it took three issues (five if we count one-shots) to get to this point, but I’m relieved it got here at all.

So if we’re getting a “new” Avengers to combat the Squadron, we have Blade, Cap, Phoenix, (soon) Starbrand and… Who is another character Aaron introduced in Avengers?  Is there a wild card on the horizon?

Tom Bondurant: Ghost Rider, right? He was in this issue as Ghost Runner (a throwback to many grade-school baseball games, I’m sure). I almost thought that the flaming rat from the backup story was going to be a Ghost Rider thing.

Carla Hoffman: Me too, actually. Lots of stuff catches fire in Marvel!

JK Parkin: I was wondering if maybe Moon Knight would pop up.

Carla Hoffman: Moon Knight… Or Khonshu?

JK Parkin: Either/or.

Shane Bailey: Thor was in the first issue.

Carla Hoffman: Yeah, it might be Thor.

Shane Bailey: I’m sure they will break him out of his stupor.

Carla Hoffman: His terrible “Atheism,” as the press material said. I wonder if he has a YouTube channel…

Either way, the idea of collecting heroes who could be Avengers if the old guard didn’t step up is cool and hopefully will usher in a more open roster in the future?

Shane Bailey: A return to an “Avenger’s World”?

Carla Hoffman: At least the old school “social club” atmosphere of the past….

Shane Bailey: Where’s Broo? That’s what I want to know. Without the Avengers, was he one of the Brood that possessed the Imperial Guard?

I demand a Broo ongoing, Marvel!

JK Parkin: All right, so looking forward to next week, we have the main series featuring Doctor Spectrum (and drawn by James Stokoe!) as well as three one-shots: Siege Society, Magneto and the Mutant Force and Young Squadron. Anything in particular you’re looking forward to next week?

Shane Bailey: After last week’s Blur issue, I’m surprisingly looking forward to the Doctor Spectrum issue, especially with Stokoe. Other than that, I’m interested to see if they will mention anything about the current X-Men books in Magneto and the Mutant Force. Is Krakoa going to be mentioned or did the Avengers not being there cause that to work out differently as well?

JK Parkin: I’m also looking forward to the main title, and I’m always up for Jim Zub’s work on Kamala, Miles and Sam — even if their names and costumes are a bit different in this new reality. So Young Squadron should be fun.

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