New Universe was a line of comic books put out by Marvel in 1986, in honor of their 25th anniversary. It was pretty much a sputtering, gasping failure from the beginning, but for me it was really cool... something that wasn't your regular spandex-clad super-hero fare. I especially enjoyed Star Brand, a book that seemed to have a story arc, but I'm guessing like most things back then they were just winging it. In 2006, probably to keep the trademark alive, Marvel let Warren Ellis revive the concept with his newuniversal mini-series. It has been said that a catastrophic hard drive failure left WE with none of his notes on the series, which smells suspicious to me, but it was a great mini anyway, updating a nostalgic concept for more modern and engaging story-telling.
And now this. Jonathan Hickman has taken control of Avengers and New Avengers, and has brought the NU into 616, or at least the concept of it (meaning the concept Ellis had fleshed out), and I am fucking hooked. It's like the Godfather, just when I thought I was getting out of comics, they pull me back in. I don't know yet if they're planning on incorporating NU stuff into 616, and after today's issue of Avengers I think they might not. But still, it's pretty awesome.
(I will always lament that Kickers Inc. never got a second chance... super-hero FOOTBALL players fore hire? Awesome.)