One of the most compelling mysteries in the Marvel Universe right now is the true identity of the hero currently fighting along side the New Avengers under the costumed guise of Ronin. This new Ronin debuted in the pages of New Avengers #27, where the team set out to rescue the first person to assume the Ronin identity, Maya Lopez AKA Echo. Since then, readers have been following clues trying to deduce whose face lies behind Ronin's mask. New Avengers writer Brian Michael Bendis hinted that the new Ronin is a character with a long history in the Marvel Universe and that the Ronin costume and identity reflects the character's sort of directionless or masterless state of mind (in Japanese history Ronin were wandering masterless samurai).
Fans have formulated a lot of theories about who the current Ronin might be and with the character's true identity set to be revealed soon in New Avengers, CBR news compiled a list of six suspects with the arguments for and against that character being Ronin and we ran them by New Avengers editor Tom Brevoort for comment.
SUSPECT #1: Blade
Pros: The current Ronin is wielding a Katana and Blade has proven that he's an expert with all types of edged weaponry. When the new Ronin debuted, the character was surprised by the New Avengers bantering back and forth during a fight. The character's surprise over this indicates that it's someone who hasn't fought with the New Avengers before (or at least in some time) and Blade has not been a New Avenger. The current Ronin also seemed to be the most acquainted with Luke Cage and Blade is on friendly terms with Luke Cage. It's also been rumored for some time now that Blade would eventually have some ties to the New Avengers.
Cons: Ronin has two hands and readers of the current Blade series know that the Daywalker currently only has one. The New Avengers are on the run from enforcers of the Superhero Registration act, but based on his experiences in the Civil War tie-in issue of his own series, Blade has no reason to hide from SHRA enforcers. Bendis's comments seem to indicate that the current Ronin is a character in pursuit of new goals and a new identity, while Blade clearly has his own set of goals and agenda.
Brevoort said: Blade would certainly be a good fit for the series, given the new line-up and the overall direction the team is heading in. Plus, he's a character who originated in the same era as people like Luke Cage, Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel, all characters whom Brian has some fondness for and has made an effort to bring back to prominence. And with the three 'Blade' films, he's one of the best-known characters in the Marvel pantheon.
SUSPECT #2: The White Tiger
Pros: Angela Del Toro, the latest person to adopt the identity of White Tiger, certainly has the unarmed combat skills to be Ronin (on the cover to the upcoming issue #6 of the White Tiger mini-series the character is holding a sword). She has not been a New Avenger before, so she wouldn't be aware of their custom of fight bantering. The new White Tiger is also a trusted friend and confidant of Matt Murdock, who's a trusted friend and confidant of Luke Cage. She also fought alongside Danny Rand AKA Iron Fist during the time he posed as Daredevil. Having Ronin appear to be a male character and turn out to be female would keep up the tradition of the character, which was established with the first Ronin, Maya Lopez.
Cons: Based on Bendis's comments, Ronin seems to be a character that has given up their old identity and is in search of a new one, but Angela has just begun to sort of embrace being the new White Tiger. Bendis's comments seem to indicate that the new Ronin is a character with a long history in the Marvel Universe and Angela Del Toro is a relatively new character.
Brevoort said: Would Brian be cheeky enough to use the same woman-disguised-as-a-man bit twice in a row? Maybe...
SUSPECT #3: Moon Knight
Pros: Marc Spector definitely has the fighting skills to be Ronin. Spector also has a long sordid history of creating new identities. He also hasn't been a New Avenger before.
Cons: Moon Knight does not have fond memories of his time as a New Avenger, so it's unlikely he'd join a new team of Avengers. Marc Spector just resumed his career as Moon Knight so it seems unlikely that he would pick up a new identity so soon. And in his own book, Moon Knight seems to have little interest in the conflict over the SHRA.
Brevoort said: Like Blade, Moon Knight is from a period in comics for which Brian has an obvious affection. And he'd be a good fit with the rest of the cast and the overall tone of the series. Plus, Moon Knight does fit the description of a 'masterless samurai' that's implicit in the Ronin name and identity.
SUSPECT #4: Baron Zemo
Pros: Zemo is a master swordsman and a pretty good hand-to-hand combatant. The current Thunderbolts Presents: Zemo - Born Better mini-series seems to indicate that Helmut Zemo is heading back to the present with a more heroic perspective which could mean he's ready to assume a more heroic identity. He certainly hasn't been a New Avenger.
Cons: The first word the new Ronin said in New Avengers #27 was, Yo, something the usually dignified Zemo wouldn't utter. Most of the New Avengers wouldn't trust Zemo.
Brevoort said: Zemo seems like a long shot, but that doesn't rule out the possibility that there is a supposed villain under Ronin's mask. Given that the New Avengers are now effectively outlaws, they may need to be standing in a more morally grey area that would allow them to bring a bad guy onto the team -- much in the same way that Wolverine was asked to join.
SUSPECT #5: Hawkeye
Pros: Since Hawkeye was trained by the original Swordsmen, Clint Barton is pretty good with a sword. Since Clint died and came back perhaps he feels Hawkeye should stay dead. Clint has adopted new identities in the past. Clint has not been a New Avenger. Clint would certainly have strong feelings about the SHRA. And Bendis said we would see Clint again.
Cons: Ronin's dialogue so far doesn't seem indicative of Clint Barton. Clint certainly wouldn't be a stranger to bantering superheroes. Ronin seems almost reserved, while the Clint Barton readers knew had no problem speaking his mind.
Brevoort said: Hawkeye was certainly changed through his experiences in 'Avengers
Disassembled,' 'House of M' and his recent reunion with the Scarlet Witch, so he might be looking to start his new life over in a very real way, which would underscore adopting the Ronin identity.
SUSPECT #6: Captain America
Pros: Captain America is certainly capable of performing all the hand to hand combat maneuvers Ronin has been shown doing. Given the outcome of Civil War, Steve Rogers might feel he doesn't serve America anymore and has become sort of a masterless samurai. Steve also has a history of creating new identities when the political climate keeps him from being Captain America.
Cons: When readers last saw Steve Rogers, his lifeless eyes were staring out from a partially zipped up body bag. Ronin's dialogue seems indicative of someone with a limited knowledge of the New Avengers, whereas Captain America fought along side the original members and was acquainted with new members Dr. Strange and Iron Fist as well. If Ronin was their former leader, it seems like the New Avengers would defer to his leadership and it appears that Luke Cage is the current leader of the New Avengers.
Brevoort said: Assuming Cap survived the attempt on his life, we've seen him go underground and assume another identity before when his views were out of step with where the country was going -- and his viewpoint and goals are certainly shared by the rest of the underground New Avengers.
NEW AVENGERS #30 (MAR072102)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Pencils and Cover by LEINIL YU
Rated A ...$2.99
On Sale- 5/9/07
The recent incarnation of the New Avengers doesn't have it easy, forging their own underground movement against the Superhuma
Registration act they consider unjust and finding themselves embroiled in conflicts with their former friends. But as readers will learn in
New Avengers #30, it's going to get worse before it gets better. As readers continue to learn how the New Avengers survived their conflict with Iron Man's state-sponsored Mighty Avengers team in the past, they'll also be thrilled to the New Avengers' current conflict with the martial arts crime cabal known as the Hand! Throughout this top-selling story arc by award-winning writer Brian Bendis and red-hot artist Leinil Yu (one of Marvel's Young Guns), fans have wondered just who is wearing the new Ronin armor and they're about to find out in May.
Oh, and did we mention this all sets the stage for 2008's top secret Marvel epic?
So don't miss the series that ComicBookResources.Com's Augie De Blieck called, the premiere team title of the Marvel Universe. Marvel advises retailers to check their orders on New Avengers, which not only ties into the best-selling ongoing Initiative storyline, but continues to sell out with each issue.