Marvel heroes will be "reborn" in 2021

Heroes Reborn 2021
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

In 1996, a large portion of  the Marvel Universe was rebooted in a Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, and Jeph Loeb-led revamp called 'Heroes Reborn.' Now 25 years later, a new 'Heroes Reborn' is coming - starting with a rhetorical question in a marketing teaser: "Whatever happened to Earth's Mightiest Heroes?"

Marvel's 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes' are, of course, its nickname for the Avengers.

Back in December, Marvel executive editor/senior VP of publishing Tom Brevoort teased a Marvel "rebirth" following the current Avengers arc 'Enter the Phoenix.' 

DC has somewhat cornered the market on the term 'Rebirth' with a series of revamped origin story arcs for the Flash and Green Lantern, followed by a line-wide revamp in 2016. 'Reborn' is seemingly the next best thing terminology-wise, but along with it comes the weight of history.

(Image credit: Brett Booth/Tom McWeeney (Marvel Comics))

In 1996, former Marvel star artists/writers Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld were lured back to the House of Ideas with a deal to revamp/reboot the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk under their guidance. That project, 'Heroes Reborn,' lasted a year, before a rushed finale and then the characters being folded back into the main Marvel U with a series of specials titled 'Heroes Return.'

A new omnibus collection of 1996-1997's 'Heroes Reborn' goes on sale in June - no coincidence.

Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

(Image credit: Brian Bolland (DC))

The rhetorical question to Marvel's 2021 'Heroes Reborn' - "Whatever happened to Earth's Mightiest Heroes?" - alludes to a much older story which was not a rebirth/reborn type of situation, but a finale: Alan Moore and Curt Swan's 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?' in 1986. 

While the title itself was a homage to the similarly-finale like nature of the '70s BBC show Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Moore and Swan's story ended up being a seminal Superman work which went on to inspire numerous additional stories - including one for Batman in 2009 titled  'Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?' by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert.

So while Marvel's usage of 'Heroes Reborn' signals a new beginning of sorts, the homage of 'Whatever happened to…' could also signal an ending of sorts before a new beginning.

Stay tuned to Newsarama for more on Marvel's 2021 'Heroes Reborn.'

A new 'Heroes Reborn' would promise a big impact on Marvel Comics. Check out Newsarama's list of the most impactful Marvel events of all time.

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)