Stan Lee flew to New York for the official announcement. Since Avi Arad’s ascent at Marvel Films, Lee had distracted himself with projects like Excelsior Comics, a modest-sized imprint of titles to be packaged from the company’s West Coast offices. But most of his public appearances of late—like popping up on Conan O’Brien to promote Best of the Worst, a low-budget book of trivia and one-liners—were the extraneous gestures of celebrity life, and had little to do with current Marvel Comics business. Now he returned to his old rah-rah mode: “We’re matching some of the best talent in the industry, with some of the best characters in the industry, to change the status quo and create the stuff of legends!” he beamed to the gathering of journalists at the Grand Hyatt on Park Avenue. The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Captain America, and Iron Man would now be created completely by the California studios of Jim Lee and Liefeld. The news that Marvel was removing control of its characters from its own staff and handing million-dollar contracts (plus profit sharing) to those who’d recently walked out on the company was, in the words of one editor, “catastrophic to morale.”
Even the fictional world of the Marvel Universe was being disassembled. For a multi-title event called “Onslaught,” the outgoing editors, writers, and artists of The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Captain America, and Iron Man were charged with implementing their own obsolescence. The heroes would be destroyed, and then re-created in a “pocket universe,” an alternate world where Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld’s reimagined versions would take over. The “Heroes Reborn” titles, as they would be called, would be renumbered as #1 issues for the first time since the 1960s. Other titles—including Thor, Doctor Strange, and Silver Surfer— would be canceled outright.
(Text from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story)