I'm not sure exactly what Marvel's editorial response was initially to Jonathan Hickman when he suggested bringing back The New Universe, in some form or other, in The Avengers. In this case treating it as an event that can happen on all Earths in order to defend them from attack.
And with Animal Man and Swamp Thing rejecting recent reboots and heading back to their eighties' versions, it looks like there's something in the air today. Not only is The Avengers all about the New Universe, with Nightmask, Star Brand, Spitfire, Justice… with even a nod to Cipher from Warren Ellis' own attempt to revive the New Universe as newuniversal, but it even gives us an on panel reference to Earth 616, invented by Dave Thorpe, popularised by Alan Moore and Chris Claremont in the eighties and then rubbished by the likes of Joe Quesada and Tom Brevoort more recently.
I can tell you for sure that those of us actually working on the books virtually never use the term — and I kind of wince inside whenever I hear somebody use it. It just sounds so stupid to my ear, and so counter to the kind of mindset we try to foster in regard to the stories we create and the thinking we try to employ. – Tom Brevoort
I never use it, I hate the term pure and simple and agree with Tom's assessment of it. I can't remember ever hearing it in the office and only really see it used online for the most part. I think the term really came into vogue when the Ultimate Universe came into prominence, but in my world, the language and distinctions are simple, there is the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. Anything other than that reeks of all that DC Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth Prime stuff which I've never really taken to, but then again, I got into DC when they got rid of all that stuff so it was from and for a different era than my own. – Joe Quesada
I like Earth 616. It gives the idea that the Marvel Universe is just one, an insignificant one even, in a multiverse of even greater wonder waiting to be explored. In a world where people are superstrong, superpowerful and there are superheroes everywhere, it helps create a more… grounded perspective.
And nicely reclaimed by Jonathan Hickman in The Avengers and New Avengers.