a return that well, let’s be honest, you probably didn’t see coming.
November, Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld will team for a five part, weekly,
miniseries that returns to the Heroes Reborn universe, and brings
along the villain who got the whole Heroes Reborn ball rolling.
bit of history, first – Onslaught was the name of a creature that
came from…essentially, the union of Professor Xavier and Magneto’s
minds. Basically, a “seed” from Magneto’s psyche took residence
in Xavier’s mind, ultimately giving form to Xavier’s repressed anger
and darker emotions. Hugely powerful, Onslaught threatened all of
existence with its power, and, in order to stop it, the Avengers,
the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and Captain America sacrificed themselves,
apparently destroying Onslaught.
they thought they sacrificed themselves, the Onslaught battle was
the editorial component of a larger business deal at Marvel. For
12 months, the Marvel properties were to be packaged by groups of
creators headed by former Marvel, and now Image creators, Jim Lee
and Rob Liefeld. Lee’s team took Fantastic Four and Iron Man, while
Liefeld’s took Captain America and Avengers.
four titles saw the characters redesigned and re-envisioned by the
different creators with varying degrees of acceptance and success
as judged by fans (although it made bucketloads of cash for Marvel
and paid the creators handsomely). Ultimately, the Marvel heroes
returned to the Marvel Universe in 1997’s Heroes Reborn: The
Return, and things returned to where they were, albeit,
was a return to the Heroes Reborn world (more on that below), and
Marvel’s Exiles will visit the world as part of their “Worlds
Tour” storyline, but since the conclusion of the roughly year-long
event, the Heroes Reborn versions of the Marvel characters haven’t
will change in November.
spoke with Liefeld, Loeb, and editor John Barber for more about
off, while the project is a return to the original storyline from
ten years ago, it’s also something more – something more personal
to the writer.
I saw an opportunity to crack the other half of the Internet
in half and took it,” Loeb joked. “I mean, why let Bendis have all
the fun?! [laughs]
with the stunning success of Superman/Batman #26 - and I'm warning everyone right now,
there are not enough copies being printed and there's a huge
number being printed - where all of Sam's DC pals, and a couple
of Marvel dudes pulled together to raise money for The Sam Loeb
College Scholarship Fund, I've been looking for something that Marvel
could do -- not in response to DC -- but in their own way.
Starting with Joe Quesada, Sam had his Marvel fans as well. Sam
was talking about doing a Spider-Man/Wolverine thing -- like
Sam’s Superboy/Robin story -- that hopefully someday I can revisit
for my son. Hmm... Spidey and Wolvie... Do you think the apple
fell far from the tree?! [laughs].”
was Marvel’s success with the return to Age of Apocalypse last year
that got the company looking at its other franchises that were having
anniversaries, Loeb said. “Dan Buckley brought up that Heroes
Reborn was having the 10th anniversary and Dan -- among others
at Marvel -- had been a fan. Say what you will, there's a lot
of people who came to Cap and the FF because of Rob and Jim who
had never read those books before.
saw a way to make a connection here between a project that I had
been involved in ten years ago - combined with my friendship with
Rob -- to tie it into The Fund and create something special.
we were presented with a way to reach a wide audience and
at the same time offer a huge contribution to the Fund. There are
few people in the comic book business who were as close to Sam as
Rob was -- they just cracked each other up. People who don't know
Rob don't know how funny he is -- and his sense of humor is the
core of our friendship. Ask anybody when I talk about him, it's
always ‘He makes me laugh’ which is the highest compliment I can
– once the concept was decided upon, Liefeld got the call.
“I received a call following the Marvel summit last fall and the
guys at Marvel asked if I was interested in participating in this,”
Liefeld explained. “They explained that Jeph was involved and laid
out how it would combine Onslaught and Heroes Reborn
and it sounded like a great opportunity, so I jumped at it. I was
really jazzed that I could be involved. I was in the middle of getting
a couple other Marvel projects up and running and they immediately
went to the back burner so Onslaught Reborn could happen.
I'm so excited about this and I've had to keep a lid on it for months.”
is the main artist on the five issues, Loeb said, but that’s not
to say he’ll be the only artist working on the project.
“As to it becoming a big all star jam -- let's just say we're
talking about adding some seasoning to the pot that will make this
even more fun and raise money for this cause that means the world
to me. “
Liefeld though, re-teaming with Loeb was more than enough incentive
to get rolling, as the original Heroes Reborn was the first
time the two worked together.
has great chemistry with everyone, especially artists,” Liefeld
said. “He plays to an artist's strengths and desires. He enjoys
giving all his artists a big canvas top work from which is why he
attracts such a diverse group of talents from Tim Sale, Joe Mad,
Jeff Campbell, Mike Turner, Jim Lee and Darwynn Cooke. Jeph also
has great instincts as to what the readers will enjoy. Look at his
run on Superman/Batman for an example of a him creating blockbuster
blockbuster arc despite his creative team. His writing is very entertaining,
filled with character advancement and enough twists and turns to
keep you glued to the page. He's just a damn good writer. I've been
saying it for years, he's the Jerry Bruckheimer of comics. He can
give you CSI, Glory Road, Remember the Titans, Pirates of the
Caribbean or a Cold Case at any given minute. He's diverse
but he always hits the mark.”
up a little, as Loeb explained, Buckley got this particular ball
rolling by pointing out that 2006 would be the 10th anniversary
of Heroes Reborn, however, it was Liefeld who brought Onslaught
into the picture.
connection was brilliant,” Loeb said. “That's a character
who hasn't been around in forever and who is mega powerful enough
to take everyone on. I'm kind of surprised he hasn't resurfaced
until now and very grateful he hasn't since there's a story of revenge
that is just delicious.”
both creators, Onslaught Reborn had to be something…more.
Not knocking fifth week events at all, but both Loeb and Liefeld
wanted the story to have deep roots and wide ramifications. Case
in point – it’s relationship to the larger Marvel Universe are related
to the Scarlet Witch’s “No more mutants” line at the end of House
of M, and…well, the original Heroes Reborn. Allow Loeb
to indulge in a reminiscence…
roots of this go much further back. Again, history will
change things, but as controversial as Heroes Reborn was
-- it was the biggest charge to that group of heroes until New
Avengers came around. And now, thanks to Mister Bendis, doing
something like this becomes an even bigger event. Thanks,
we turn the clock back to those days, I was the monthly writer -
yes, I actually used to turn out a book on a monthly basis - [laughs]
- on both Cable and X-Force.
there was a convergence -- a Lost cross if you will [laughs]
-- at WonderCon that year. I'd never met Rob. So, when he came
up to me and said that he liked what I'd been doing with Cable
and X-Force -- I suddenly realized, "Sh*t! I'm talking
to the guy who created these characters!" And he was
an honest to gosh fanboy.
“We spent the day talking about comics --and I'm not sure that Rob
even knew it then, but I had my own agenda. Heroes Reborn
had just been announced and for a number of reasons I knew
it was going to be huge. And I wanted in.
in those days, I didn't have the access I have today. That's what's
exciting about this business. As big as Geoff Johns is right
now, it's hard to remember that he had a very loyal, but considerably
smaller audience that he had earned from Flash and
JSA. Then Titans came along and his profile got hotter.
Then, he did Green Lantern: Rebirth with Van Sciver
and BOOM! He's on everybody's list to work with... and DC, smartly,
gave him Crisis. Now he’s a superstar. And
it's changed his life - I know this, I work with him every day -
and as his pal I couldn't be happier for his success. I don't like
having to pick up his dry cleaning and wash the car, but...
it's the most fantastic thing I've ever heard.
I see it happening to Greg Pak -- who I don't really know except
from the summits -- and after Planet Hulk -- BOOM! Another
guy will reach hyperspace and that's REALLY important to our business
to continue to grow from within.
Back to Onslaught... Heroes Reborn was my shot at
the title. Cable and X-Force were getting to be big
hits, but being on Heroes Reborn changed my life. I couldn't
have known it at the time, but it affected me years later as well.
Here's just two of the things I can now do that are completely unrelated
to Heroes Reborn, but couldn’t have happened without
Heroes Reborn or Rob: (1) It was the first of the "outsourcing"
deals and without that project I NEVER could have done Superman/Batman
#26 -- nobody had ever let someone outside New York package
a book. Today, DC believed in me and on #26 that they worked closely
with me to put it all together and (2) I got to know Jim Lee very
well at that time. There simply would not have been Batman:
Hush without Rob picking me to write Captain America
and The Avengers.
Scott Lobdell - who wrote Heroes Reborn: Iron Man, and Jim
and Rob, I was the punk kid at the table. They let me eat with
the grown ups and I don't forget people who take chances on me.
That led to Awesome Comics and, again, say what you will, we put
out some great comics with people like Alan Moore and Jim Starlin
and Gil Kane, Ed Mcguinness, Brandon Peterson, Steve Skroce, Stephen
Platt, Chris Sprouse, Jeff Matsuda, Ian Churchill -- and Rob picked
me to be Publisher. Publisher!
learned more about the process of making comics in that short time
- 18 months - then any where else I can imagine. So, again, there
was more to Heroes Reborn than just the comics for me. If Rob was
going to revisit that period, he was not going there alone!”
a touch more of the story, over to Liefeld…
Witch's infamous ‘No more mutants’ line from House of M
sets everything in motion and from there it's not too long before
Franklin Richards and the entire Fantastic Four are confronted by
Onslaught....things start moving very quickly from that point on....
“Franklin will inevitably be used to open up the doorway to the
Heroes Reborn universe again, remember he placed the Heroes there
in order to protect them from Onslaught in the first place. The
HR characters will be confronted by Onslaught as his reach extends
deep into their world and upsets the balance of both realities.
All of the major Marvel heavy-hitters are present and accounted
for, The FF, Thor, Hulk, Cap, The Avengers, Bucky, Namor, Loki,
Enchantress....plus some new faces. Jeph broke the story down for
me several months back and I was grinning ear to ear, it's big.
And it sets up a lot of stuff to come. After Civil War fans
can take a deep breath and then strap themselves in for this rollercoaster.”
for even more of what’s going on….Onslaught Reborn editor John Barber:
is taking place right now – it’s not an ‘untold tales’ collection
of stories. Onslaught is awakened here and now. Really, Onslaught
was left in a position at the end, where there was a door for a
return or a…rebirth.”
this project will not be related to the actual Heroes
Reborn world, which currently orbits the sun exactly opposite
the Marvel Universe earth, and was seen in a collection of one-shot
specials in 2000, and was, for a time, ruled by Dr. Doom.
some pretty complex continuity surrounding the Heroes Reborn world,
which would make it a little difficult to bring in,” Barber said.
“As Onslaught gets involved, let’s just say that there are other
dimensions involved, and, as Franklin gets involved, more rifts
in time and space. We’re pulling things out of different places…it
gets a little complex to explain without giving it away, but it’s
going to be a lot of fun. So – end of the day, we’re very much aware
of the ‘counter-earth’ Heroes Reborn world over there.”
also gave some pointers in regards to what gets the ball rolling
for Onslaught this time… “Last time Onslaught showed up,
he was a result or side-effect of not only Xavier’s instability,
but also Magneto’s psyche becoming involved in Xavier’s psyche,”
the editor said. “And of course, we haven’t seen Xavier or Magneto
since House of M, and who knows what’s happened to them. Also, what
kind of ramifications were there for Onslaught, as an entity, when
the Marvel Heroes stopped existing in the Heroes Reborn world?”
story, as explained, will feature the characters from the Heroes
Reborn world…which means dozens and dozens. “With an event this
big the challenge is to both service this enormous cast - the FF,
the Hulk, Thor, and The Avengers including Iron Man and Cap -- but
at the same time keep it grounded on a personal level so there's
an emotional in for the reader,” Loeb said. “It all starts
with Franklin, of course, but the book will have its own voice.”
as Liefeld explains it, Onslaught Reborn allows the two creators
to tackle some unfinished business.
Reborn represents an opportunity to complete a job that was
left unfinished storywise,” Liefeld said. “Everything here is brand
spankin' new. This is a sequel in every sense of the word. It's
ten years later, Onslaught is angry and powerful and ready to exact
revenge on everyone. Onslaught is a terrific villian, and he's been
restrained for a very long time...”
years? Won’t anyone notice that Franklin Richards is still, relaitvley
the same age as he was ten years ago?
Molecules, man,” Loeb said, laughing. “They'll get you every time!”
And yes, Liefeld is aware of the double meaning some may read into
his “unfinished” comment, given that he didn’t complete his full
twelve issue run of Captain America ten years ago.
“As for the past history, the previous politics of Heroes Reborn,
it may come as a surprise to any and all that I have only fond memories
of that era, that work, everything,” Liefled said. “When it ended,
I was happy my initial arc was completed. With all the turmoil that
pre-bankruptcy Marvel was experiencing, I never thought we'd publish
two issues much less the first six of both arcs of Cap and
Avengers. Jim Lee and I had like three different sets of
presidents, publishers and director's when we were working on it.
Heroes Reborn certainly had it's controversy as the first
‘out-sourced, packaging’ deal of it's kind, it was terribly politically
charged, but there's almost no one left from that era at Marvel
and they've re-emerged from all their troubles, roaring back to
the forefront of the industry. Jeph and I still get loads of Heroes
Reborn comics shoved under our noses at shows. Those books reached
a large audience, one of the largest in the recent history of those
books. Fans have always been very generous in their support and
enthusiasm for our
efforts on Heroes Reborn.”
final word on past history – Liefeld said that, over the past ten
years, his version of Cap has been watching his carbs carefully,
and has slimmed his upper body down, appreciably, referring to one
of the artists’ more infamous images from the era.
fort he final word…Loeb offered up some more teases.
this event, Marvel is going to for the first time collect
the original stories and release them this fall. C'mon, Jim Lee
on the FF? Whilce Portacio doing Iron Man? Ian Churchill
on Avengers? And -- you can ask Mark Millar -- there’s more
than a few tips of the hat to Heroes Reborn that went into
the creation of the Ultimate Universe. Rob and I had a blast
doing those stories and we get to see them for the first time in
years. Like Rob says, every time, at every show I
go to, people bring those comics for us to sign. This is going to
For more info on how you
can donate money to the Sam Loeb Fund, please write to SAMLOEB4@aol.com