The Heroes Reborn event has revealed that Blur, a pastiche of DC’s Flash, actually fills a niche that Marvel’s traditional heroes don’t.
Warning: contains spoilers for Heroes Reborn #3!
The Avengers are working to set reality straight in Heroes Reborn, but Marvel may want to keep its version of the Flash in action after the event is over. Taking place in a world in which the Avengers never formed, Heroes Reborn has completely rewritten Marvel history, giving the title of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to the Squadron Supreme of America. A deliberate parody of DC’s Justice League, the Squadron Supreme’s roster includes Hyperion (Superman), Nighthawk (Batman), Power Princess (Wonder Woman), Doctor Spectrum (Green Lantern), and Blur (the Flash), whose powers greatly reflect the abilities of their DC equivalents. While there are plenty of other existing Marvel characters who fill similar roles to Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman, Stanley Stewart, AKA Blur, adds something to the Marvel Universe that his teammates don’t.
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Marvel’s selection of super-fast characters isn’t vast, and most of them still can’t match up to the Flash. The most well-known of the bunch, Quicksilver, has an impressive track record, but he’s proven time and again that he is nowhere near as fast as the Flash. He’s also fairly standoffish and doesn’t appear in the comics very often, making him ill-suited for a starring role (even though he’s super fun in an ensemble). Another candidate is Northstar, who’s been getting a bit more attention lately as the leader of X-Factor. Unfortunately, he also doesn’t fit the bill as a Flash counterpart as he tends to use his speed in the context of flight, in addition to having other powers like concussive blasts and photokinesis. These extra abilities don’t make him a speedster in the way that many comics fans understand the power, but rather make him super fast in the same way that Superman is, meaning his stories tend not to focus on this ability.
Jason Aaron, Federico Vicentini, and Matt Milla’s “Race Through the Dread Dimension” from Heroes Reborn #3 features Blur in a battle against the Silver Witch. Taking on her brother Pietro’s speed powers after he died racing Blur, Wanda Maximoff is out for revenge. As the two race, it becomes immediately apparent to readers just how powerful Blur is as he zips through the timestream and into different dimensions with relative ease. Wanda shows some major skills too, using her brother’s speed to keep up with Blur and even managing to take away his speed temporarily. Using some meditation techniques learned in Kamar-Taj though, Stanley still manages to come out on top.
Blur’s focus on traditional superspeed isn’t the only thing that makes him a unique character in the Marvel Universe. Of course, his ability to interact with the world in a fundamentally different way than other heroes certainly sets him apart from the rest, but his personality also adds to his appeal. Instead of the typical, goody-two-shoes hero, Blur is somewhat selfish and impulsive, only really engaging in heroics when it serves him directly. The issue also highlights how easily distracted he can be, with Stanley himself admitting, “I have the attention span of a hummingbird on meth.” Thanks to these flaws, Blur can still use his immense powers without immediately rendering all other heroes useless.
Ultimately, keeping Blur in the spotlight after Heroes Reborn could allow Marvel to get much more out of the character. The super-fast, impetuous burnout in this issue would be a super fun concept to explore and would be an interesting ally and foil for heroes like the Avengers. But if Blur needs to go down to make Heroes Reborn as satisfying as possible, this trope could even be explored using Speed Demon (as seen in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man), who has a similarly self-serving attitude. He even worked as a pseudo-hero in New Thunderbolts before being kicked out for stealing money to fund the team (the perfect kind of trouble for this type of character to be getting into.) In Blur, Marvel has the perfect blueprint for a speedster who doesn’t pale in comparison to DC’s famous Flash, but who couples that power with an offbeat attitude that can set him at odds with other more moralistic heroes, giving him a unique place in the comics.
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