The final fight has all come down to this, as Heroes Reborn ends and Heroes Return #1 wraps up Marvel’s mainline summer event. After six issues of Earth’s mightiest superhero team, the Squadron Supreme revealed themselves to be not so heroic. Now, it’s time for the Avengers to fight back. Every super-powered moment showcasing the incredibly overpowered Squadron Supreme member has led to this and, quite frankly, it’s not even clear if the Avengers can beat them! Expect a larger-than-life feel in the art and story for Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’s final issue.
This issue opens exactly where Heroes Reborn #6 left off. President Coulson has just taken out three familiar superheroes and seems to be thirsty for more. Entrusted with a magical cube of seemingly limitless power, the story then cuts to the Avengers fighting the Squadron Supreme head-on. Make no mistake, this book is largely straight fight-comics and it’s the main selling point of the issue. There’s a bit more here, but it’s mostly big meaty arms and fists colliding into each other.
As a fight comic, Aaron and McGuinness deliver satisfying matchups throughout. First up is Hyperion vs. Thor, which makes sense given their super strength and invulnerability. Hyperion also has good reason to want to pound Thor into a flat pancake. Power Princess is up against Phoenix, which is also a matchup that makes sense given their level of power. Doctor Spectrum is up against Starbrand, which doesn’t seem super fair given Starbrand is just a kid, while Blade is fighting Nighthawk and Black Panther is fighting The Blur. Each combo feels rather well-matched and that helps play into the intensity of each fight and the unique way each battle ends.
If you’re familiar with McGuinness, you’ll note his work here is as good as ever if not better. Backed up by color artist Matthew Wilson and inker Mark Morales, the characters are larger than life and practically bursting out of every page. When it comes to bulging muscles, is there any artist better than McGuinness? It’s almost as if this finale was written specifically for him.
Characters like Hyperion have cool details like a square brick-like jaw and veiny hands that suggest these characters are built for pounding. Color choices remain bright and epic, like the shining brightness behind Cap as he uppercuts Hyperion, or the purple detailing in Black Panther’s costume revealing the Vibranium abilities.
The book also ends well with a nice epilogue of sorts to wrap things up. It’s a satisfying end since everything that built up to this still matters and isn’t erased like so many alternate reality stories. There’s also a very cool cliffhanger that lines up with other types of groups revealed in Marvel’s past. What it means for the future of Marvel is exciting and it sets up quite a cool angle on a very specific meddling character.
If you weren’t expecting a fight-comic you likely won’t love this book. It never pretends to be anything more than a fight comic though so that’s on you. However, it is slightly sad to see the Avengers not working together. One might assume the tried and true trope of heroes working together is always better, but the creative team has opted for 1 on 1 fights for most of these matchups. That does make this book more about heroes simply fighting with their usual gung-ho point of view. You could argue it required them all to fight alongside each other to get the job done.
Heroes Return ends on an epic note with matchups we’ve all been waiting for. Is it simple in its approach? It is, but it’s also satisfying with all the action you want and a devilish cliffhanger.
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