Thor, Iron Man, Captain America star in Marvel's new 'Heroic Age'

By Andrew A. Smith
Scripps Howard News Service

May 18, 2010 -- It’s morning in America again – at least, the America in which Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Avengers live.

For a couple of years in Marvel comics, Norman Osborn – yes, the Green Goblin – has been America’s top cop. He was head of the Avengers (which he staffed with murderous supervillains) and the black ops/intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. (which he renamed H.A.M.M.E.R. and staffed with thugs). This was on the heels of a “civil war” between superheroes, and a debilitating invasion by shapeshifting Skrulls from outer space. The bad guys were in charge, the real Avengers were on the run, and Captain America was (temporarily) dead. Grim days.

And then Osborn invaded Asgard.

That event, called “Siege,” proved a step too far, and the president revoked Osborn’s authority. A little late, as the Shining City came crashing down in Norman, Oklahoma, and thousands – including Norse and Greco-Roman gods – lay dead.

But now, according to Marvel’s top editor Tom Brevoort, “Thor, Captain America and Iron Man stand united together for the first time in many years, at the center of a reorganized Avengers, so that’s setting a particular tone for this moment.”

It’s a new day, one formally titled “The Heroic Age,” which affects all of Marvel’s superhero titles. “It’s a time in which the heroes are back on top, and there’s a renewed sense of optimism,” Brevoort said.

And it’s been in the works for a while.

“From the point at which we embarked on ‘Avengers Disassembled’ years ago, we knew there would come a time when Cap, Thor and Iron Man would again stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and that’s something we’ve been heading towards for some time,” Brevoort said. “The fact that these characters are reuniting now carries a lot more emotional weight and power to it given that it’s been so long since we’ve seen that.”

“I think we all knew where we were going post-‘Siege,’ even though ‘Siege’ wasn't called ‘Siege’ and ‘The Heroic Age' wasn't called ‘The Heroic Age,’” said Matt Fraction, writer on Invincible Iron Man and Thor. “This would have been ... more than two years ago now.”

The whole tapestry of “Heroic Age” will unfold over time. But four Avengers books are launching from “Siege,” and the team’s Big Three are getting attention right away:

* Avengers Prime: A five-issue miniseries shows how Thor, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers learn to trust each other again.

* Iron Man: “He's back at square one,” Fraction said, “in mind, body, soul and professional life. No armor to his name, no company to run ... living in a motel in Oklahoma. We spent two years taking away everything he has and now ... now we get to watch him rebuild his entire life.

“Also: new armor.”

* Thor: Asgard’s destruction leaves a hole in the “Nine Worlds” of Norse mythology, and what replaces it is very old – and very scary. Thor will be “terrified,” Fraction said.

“What do gods look up to?” he asked. “These guys. These are the gods of Bor and even earlier – these are primal forces of space/time given physical form. This is The-End-Of-All-Things.”

But Fraction won’t ignore Thor’s earthly connection, through alter ego Dr. Don Blake.

“He's looking for what, precisely, his purpose is, post-‘Siege,’” Fraction said. “It'll come as no surprise that a big theme of our first few stories is going to be ‘reconstruction.’ And Thor/Blake is constantly examining just who he is and what he is. Man in a god-suit? God in a man-suit? Neither? Both? What does that mean? What does any of this mean?”

* Captain America: The original, Steve Rogers, has a new miniseries coming, as well as an ongoing role in
Secret Avengers with a “new set of objectives,” Brevoort said.

As to the current Captain America, Cap’s former sidekick Bucky Barnes, he “will be dealing with the returned threat of Baron Zemo,” he said. “Zemo, having learned that the current Captain America was once Bucky, has embarked on a vendetta. From his point of view, Bucky’s return has discredited the one significant thing his father is known for, having been responsible for Bucky’s death at the end of the War. And so he embarks upon a very personal campaign against Cap, one that will have some serious consequences for the future.”

It may be a Heroic Age, but it obviously won’t be one without complications!

Art: 1) Thor #611, due in July, Matt Fraction's first issue as writer. 2) Age of Heroes #1, first of a four-issue miniseries depicting how The Heroic Age impacts different characters. 3) Captain America #609, due in August, part of the new Star-Spangled Avenger's battle with Baron Zemo. 4) Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #1, first of a four-issue miniseries establishing the first Captain America's new status quo. 5) Invincible Iron Man #25, which restored Tony Stark's mind just in time for The Heroic Age.

Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at

Views: 3632

Comment by Philip Portelli on May 21, 2010 at 5:14pm
That's what bothers me, too. No one seems to have suffered any consequences from "Civil War", "Secret Invasion" or even "Siege". "World War Hulk" - all is forgotten. Any X-crossover- no effect. Tony is the same elitist egomaniac he was before, but now he doesn't have to be troubled by any memory of how bad he made things. Of course, he would do things the same, he has nothing to compare his behavior to. Thor KNOWS Tony crossed the line, Cap KNOWS Tony crossed the line. But all is okay because, to Tony, he can't recall cossing the line so he gets a *do-over*! I would love to see SOMEONE try to limit Tony's ability to affect any situation with global consequences.
Comment by Eric L. Sofer on May 24, 2010 at 7:11am
Blaze Morgan - YMMV, but I have to toss in that I think Straczynski is terrible on Brave and the Bold. It seems as if he has all the characters in a hat, shakes them up, and draws two (or possibly three), and then sticks them into a story. I don't like his characterization; I don't like his treatment of characters; I REALLY don't like that it's become "What If-" for DC (check out the heading; it's now "POSSIBLE" DC universes or some such) - and since you asked (which you didn't, but as long as I'm on a rant), would someone PLEASE explain to me The Flash and the Blackhawks? Not only does Barry Allen become a killer (not because he lost his super speed, but because he cannot run - and there's a big difference there), but it was in Brave and the Bold #28. BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28. Does no one have a sense of history at DC Comics any more?

On the other hand, I am QUITE enjoying "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." Just because it's from the "kiddie" department doesn't mean that there isn't some good stuff there.

Mark S. Ogilvie - Let me go you one step farther. In the 80s, over a span of about six months, Daredevil met Iron Fist (and usually Power Man) something like FIVE TIMES - and it was new each time. They met in Daredevil, Power Man and Iron Fist, Marvel Team-up Annual #4(? - one of those annuals), Contest of Champions, and one other title if I remember right - and they didn't know each other EACH TIME.

Come on! Even for those who aren't Consistency Cops like I am had to be scratching their heads! This was during the Jim Shooter run, so maybe he didn't allow his writers to talk with each other... but still, there are only so many editors!

I wonder if post-Crisis, they've met each other yet... >8-O

Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on May 25, 2010 at 12:15pm
I guess to me above all a gimmick is obvious when the phrase "You don't have to buy every title in a cross over to get the full story" is used. If I don't need to read every title then why are they spreading the story out across five or more titles?

Good point, but from what I have observed that yardstick may not be as accurate as it once was. For example, I skipped “World War Hulk” but I later picked up two of the tpbs (but please don’t ask me to recall which ones!). What I found is that the two series read were centered around the same events, but told from entirely different points of view. I could have read either or both and still got a complete story. There are other WWH tpb collections available which I did not buy, but I don’t feel as if I missed anything because each of the ones I did told complete stories of their own, related to each other but not dependent upon one another.

I think that stories should be built on foundations and to build this Historic Age on top of what has gone on in the past few years does not work for me unless that stuff is dealt with.

I couldn’t agree with you more on this point. I have tried to become interested in the current Spider-Man, for example, but I just cannot get beyond the point that his entire reality has sprung from, arguably, his greatest defeat. The fact that he willingly sacrificed his marriage to, essentially, the Devil is the 500 pound gorilla I cannot ignore. I doubt I’ll be able to enjoy Spider-Man again until that situation is dealt with, but given an EiC who believes “It’s magic!” is an adequate substitute for traditional storytelling, I hold no hope of seeing this situation resolved any time soon.

…instead of more story we just get the author’s version of Avengers’ history as filler.

“The author’s version [emphasis mine] of Avengers’ history” is the most accurate description of the text feature filling up pages of the new Avengers titles I am likely to read.
Comment by Richard Willis on June 10, 2012 at 1:25pm

I've said it before elsewhere, but when I was a kid (and dinosaurs walked the Earth) the average comics had two or three complete stories (8 or 9 pages). A book-length story was an event. The first two-parter I remember was the FF/Avengers vs Hulk story from (I think) FF 25-26. I'm not advocating less than book-length stories, but it is a way to attract new readers. If a new reader has to pony up $2.99-$3.99 minimum for a comic he/she should not be lost in the middle of a multi-part story. That new reader becomes an ex-reader.  

Why wouldn't a TPB collection of done-in-one stories sell?

Slowly turning off existing readers with multi-part and company-wide crossover stories (and meaningless "deaths") while making it almost impossible for new readers to "jump on"  is akin to a suicide pact by the major companies.


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