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Heroes Reborn imagines a Marvel Universe without the Avengers

The new arc will hit Marvel’s Avengers series in May

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

This May, Marvel’s Avengers comic will take a strange turn: It won’t have any Avengers in it at all. Writer Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness’s new arc will explore a Marvel Universe where the Avengers never formed — but plenty of their villains did — according to a reveal form Marvel Comics.

“Welcome to a world where Tony Stark never built an Iron Man armor,” says Marvel’s news release, “Where Thor is a hard-drinking atheist who despises hammers. Where Wakanda is dismissed as a myth. And where Captain America was never found in the ice, because there were no Avengers to find him. Instead this world has always been protected by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Squadron Supreme of America.”

The Squadron Supreme clash with Dr. Juggernaut, Thanos and more villains in promotional art for Marvel Comics’ Heroes Reborn event. Image: Iban Coello, Espen Grundetjern/Marvel Comics

The Squadron Supreme are ... well, they’re a pastiche of the Justice League, usually lead by the orphaned alien Hyperion, alongside the nocturnal Nighthawk, Warrior Woman, et cetera. In the current state of Marvel Comics, they’re the state sponsored super team of the United States — coordinated by a disillusioned Agent Phil Coulson — after the Avengers fell out of favor following the whole Secret Empire debacle.

In this new Marvel Universe, the Squadron also have their own suite of new supervillians, each of whom seem to have a certain mashup quality to them. Dr. Juggernaut appears to be a version of Doctor Doom who claimed the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak and gained Juggernaut’s powers. Thanos wields “Infinity Rings” this time, pointing towards some shared qualities with Iron Man villain the Mandarin. It’s all very Infinity Warp-y.

The new arc — starring Blade as the only person in the Marvel Universe who remembers the way things used to be — will kick off in Avengers in May.