Stop us if you've heard this before, but in 2018, Marvel Comics plans to reshuffle its publishing deck with number one issues, new series and creative teams. Coming as it does only months after Marvel Legacy -- which purported to blend the old and the new -- the announcement last week of the publisher's "Fresh Start" reminded everyone just how often Marvel has relaunched, rebooted and rebranded over the past several years.
The company's thought process regarding multiple reboots makes sense -- in theory. After all, it would seem to be easier for the general public to walk into a comic book store or open a digital app and begin their reading adventure with an Issue #1 rather than a higher number. Former Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso would often say the Marvel Universe mimicked the seasonal format of a TV series, where things would end and then start over with a new agenda or mission statement.
Considering Marvel's naming scheme for previous brandings, it's understandable to get your Marvel NOW!'s confused with Marvel NOW! 2.0. That's why we've created a handy guide recounting each and every initiative, along with what they were supposed to accomplish.
Our first Marvel rebrand started in 2010 with the Heroic Age, which saw the return of a more hopeful Marvel Universe. After watching Earth's Mightiest Heroes come to blows in the Civil War event, and the villains rise to power in Dark Reign, fans began to wonder if their favorite comics would ever return to the glory days of good guys fighting bad guys. From 2006 to 2009, if storylines didn't revolve around Iron Man versus Captain America, then there was Norman Osborn as the head of a global task force in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s replacement, H.A.M.M.E.R.
Marvel recognized its universe had, indeed, strayed too far from its core values. The solution was Siege, a short four-issue miniseries that brought the Dark Reign to a close, and set the stage for the Heroic Age. With Osborn defeated and H.A.M.M.E.R. shut down, Steve Rogers stepped up as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., allowing Bucky Barnes to continue being Captain America alongside Iron Man and Thor in a new volume of Avengers.
The Heroic Age also debuted Marvel's use of a promotional image showcasing those characters set to have a high profile during the relaunch. As you can see, Marvel kept the number of heroes rather light, with big names like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Spider-Man featured. The Fantastic Four and X-Men are represented by the Thing and Beast, respectively, with Avengers teammates Black Widow and Hawkeye possibly foreshadowing their big screen debuts in 2012's The Avengers. And last but not least, Gorilla-Man from the Agents of Atlas got some love.