In a blink-and-you-missed-it moment during NBC's broadcast of the Olympic Winter Games from Sochi, Russia, the Peacock Network announced that Heroes, the 2006-2010 television drama about people with superpowers will return to the air as a 13-part miniseries called Heroes Reborn. Comic book fans of a certain age will be excused if the have a certain reaction to the phrase “Heroes Reborn,” for it was the name of a controversial rebooting event in Marvel Comics back in 1996.
In the final battle between the heroes of the Marvel Universe and the immensely powerful psionic being known as Onslaught, it appeared that a whole host of heroes were killed including the bulk of the Avengers (including Captain America, Thor and Iron Man), the entire Fantastic Four, and even Dr. Doom. As it turned out, they were not killed but 'reborn' into a pocket dimension created by Mr. Fantastic's son Franklin Richards with no knowledge of their previous lives.
This allowed Marvel to reboot the characters with more modern frames of reference for the character's histories and brand new creative teams centered around then Jim Lee's Wildstorm Productions and Rob Liefeld's Extreme Studios. The story of why the Heroes Reborn experiment ended after one year was murky with sale numbers and art/story quality given as reasons for both why it should have ended and why it should have continued. Ultimately, while the phrase “Heroes Reborn” remains short hand for the big comic book companies' often quixotic attempts to attract new readers by ditching some or all of their decades-old continuities, a direct line can be drawn from this event to both the birth of the Ultimate Marvel universe and the launch of the well-regarded Thunderbolts saga.
Now television’s team of non-costumed heroes are back from the pocket dimension known as cancellation. The news comes on the heels of what looks to be a surge of comic book/superhero-related television shows in the 2014-2015 season. Currently, Arrow has been picked up for a third season, while its home The CW also has pilots in the works for The Flash and I, Zombie. Fox has Gotham going straight to series, ABC has a possible (though not confirmed) second season for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter in development, and NBC already has their ante in the pot with Constantine going to pilot. Marvel Studios is also teaming with Netflix for four 13-episode series each focused on a separate character, with a fifth, shorter series bringing them all together Avengers-style.
“The enormous impact Heroes had on the television landscape when it first launched in 2006 was eye-opening,” said NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke in a statement published on NBC.com. “Shows with that kind of resonance don’t come around often and we thought it was time for another installment."
Salke can't be blamed for that sentiment. In 2006, Heroes became a cultural touchstone with it's compelling story of 'normal' people coming to terms individually with the manifestation of superpowers, as well as their connection to each other and the larger threat of a planet-wide apocalypse foretold in one of TV's great catchphrases: “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World.” However, in a parallel to Marvel's Heroes Reborn that might prove potentially prescient, the original run of NBC's Heroes couldn't hold onto the magic of its first season and declined in popularity after the following years got muddled with decompressed storytelling, betrayals of it's own continuity, and frequent creative staff changeover.
With original creator and executive producer Tim Kring on board, NBC's Heroes Reborn is looking to capture that first season magic, and with the promise made of digital prequels to the sequel, fans can hope that means that the well-regarded Heroes tie-in digital comic (created in conjunction with the show's writing staff and Aspen Comics) that broke new ground in the realm of parallel/background storytelling could come back as well.
Salke finished her statement with a tease for fans of some the show's fan favorite elements, including its most memorable characters like Hayden Panettiere's (Nashville) invincible cheerleader and Masi Oka's (Hawaii Five-O) time-manipulating otaku.
“Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in.”
Sure sounds like Hiro (Oka)'s ability to "pop" in and out of space and time to us.