Avengers' NEW UNIVERSE Revival: Just the Beginning?


Jonathan Hickman has been balancing a lot in his current, Marvel NOW!, Avengers run: A huge (and still growing) cast of characters, twice-monthly shipping, and a whole other series, the thematically linked New Avengers.

As of the most recent issues, he's also started to introduce elements previously associated with Marvel's "New Universe," specifically Nightmask, Star Brand and the White Event. According to Marvel senior vice president of publishing and Avengers editor Tom Brevoort, this has been motivated completely by the writer himself, rather than Marvel pushing a revival of the concepts.

"It wasn't something that anybody at Marvel especially was looking to do," Brevoort told Newsarama. "This was all really Jonathan."


The New Universe started in 1986 during Jim Shooter's tenure as Marvel editor-in-chief, as a way to mark Marvel's 25th anniversary. It was intended to be a more grounded world separate from the Marvel Universe, kickstarted by the "White Event" that gave some individuals superpowers. It launched with eight books: D.P. 7, Justice, and Psi-Force, which each ran for 32 issues; plus the shorter-lived Kickers, Inc., Mark Hazzard: Merc, Nightmask, Spitfire and the Troubleshooters and Star Brand.

Following the end of the original books in 1989, the New Universe was touched on in books like Spider-Man 2099, Quasar and the "Starblast" crossover. The most notable revisiting of the concept was newuniversal, a 2007 reboot of the concepts by Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca. Beyond the six-issue main series, the tie-ins featured some of the first Marvel work from X-Men: Legacy's Simon Spurrier and Iron Man's Kieron Gillen.


On his Formspring, Hickman told a fan that the Ellis-written material "would be plenty" for readers to familiarize themselves with when reading Avengers.

"Certainly [Hickman's] take on the New Universe characters, and what they are how they work, owes much more to Warren's newuniversal  than it does to the original New Universe of 1986," Brevoort said. "These are the sorts of stories and storytelling approaches that Jonathan tends to like, and you can tell that by looking at his work. He found things there that he was interested in, and wanted to play with some more, and here was the perfect place to do that."

Despite the acknowledged influence of newuniversal, it's clear that Hickman is doing something new and self-contained with the characters and concepts, even as it's still unfolding. Avengers #8, out this week, looks to provide further details on what the writer has planned, and it appears likely that the announced (but still shrouded in secrecy) Infinity event, also written by Hickman, ties into all of this.

Still, Brevoort says he's noticed that the New Universe imagery in Avengers has stuck a chord with fans, even if they weren't necessarily devotees of the original material.


"For all that everybody says, 'I don't know about the New Universe,' or 'I don't care about the New Universe,' certainly everybody seems to be talking about the New Universe, and has been since the cover to #7, with the pink-white lightning bolt, came out," Brevoort said. "Everybody recognized it, and everybody had a reaction to it. That indicated that there's something going on there in the gestalt, whether it's a nostalgia, or whether it's just a simple recognition of, 'It's that thing from all those years ago, that's kind of neat, I haven't seen that in a long time.'"

For Brevoort, it's further proof that, no matter how far removed a story or character might be, or whatever its reputation once was, it can still be mined by Marvel for quality material in the present day; pointing to Onslaught's surprise appearance at the end of Uncanny Avengers #4 and the current Scarlet Spider ongoing series as recent examples.


"It's all raw material, and it's all what you do with it," he said. "You can tell the best story in the world about a character, you can tell the crummiest story in the world about a character. None of that is necessarily the character's fault. The character is just the raw fiction material that you tell your story with."

"Everything has a nostalgic component to it when it comes to comic book readers," Brevoort continued. "That's just an ever-prevalent thing. You can't find stuff in the history of comics that don't have that pull to them. There's nothing that is completely salted earth." 

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