The 2021 event 'Heroes Reborn' takes its inspiration from the '90s event of the same name, and it's growing to include another '90s Marvel brand: Marvel Knights.
This June's Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1 reframes the loose assemblage of street-level heroes into a squad led by police commissioner Luke Cage.
Yeah, that's right…. police commissioner Luke Cage.
In this alt-reality of 'Heroes Reborn,' many of Marvel's characters have been tweaked (and in some cases, transformed) into new roles. Here, the world's dominant superhero team the Squadron Supreme of America has put cop boss Luke Cage on the job of curtailing anybody from acting as vigilantes.
"Backed by the Squadron Supreme, commissioner Cage thinks he's bulletproof. He's dead wrong," reads Marvel's synopsis for Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1. "And it'll take a Saint to prove it. Someone is cleaning up criminals who've escaped justice – and leaving a bloody trail in their wake. This is the Squadron's world, and the age of vigilantes is over. Police Commissioner Luke Cage has one job: Find the scum and eliminate them – before ambition takes them beyond the city streets."
Who is this "Saint" that will be acting against Luke Cage? It isn't the iconic pulp hero the Saint (as Marvel doesn't own him), and it isn't one of the three minor Marvel characters who've gone by the name (sorry dog fans, it's not Quincy Harker's attack dog).
This new Saint is Daredevil.
If you look closely at Chris Sprouse's cover to Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1, Daredevil is missing his trademark 'DD' logo - instead replaced with a rather whispy 'S'. Given the Man without Fear's Catholic leanings, this angelic nickname rather fits - especially given his mother became a nun in mainstream Marvel continuity.
Nighthawk also appears in the cover - and presumably, in the story itself. He's a mainstay of the Squadron Supreme, but in this 2021 'Heroes Reborn' continuity it's been announced he quit the team over their version of Civil War, and set up shop in Europe. He'll be facing Baron Zemo over in the Heroes Reborn: Siege Society one-shot in May.
This reimagining of Marvel characters in new roles is old hat for Paul Grist, the writer of Heroes Reborn: American Knights #1. Grist rose to popularity with a creator-owned version of this kind of thinking - his character Jack Staff was originally born out of a rejected pitch for Marvel's Union Jack character. But with Heroes Reborn: American Knights, Grist is doing it with core Marvel characters, inside the Marvel U.
"These stories are always fun, giving you a chance to play around with characters that you wouldn't get to do in their regular stories," Grist says. "The Marvel characters have been so well defined over the years it's interesting to be able to take them out of their usual settings and situations and see how they respond."
"It's when you get a chance to be able to strip away all the things that make the characters heroes in their own world, their costumes, the fancy powers, and see what sort of people they really are. Would they still make it as heroes if the world had been different?"
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