From the cover
of this flagship, you might think the book returns to its
roots. Maybe it's not the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but
it's rapidly becoming Earth's Most Recognizable Heroes!
Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, Wolverine and Captain America
join together in one book! It sounds pretty exciting.
The first page
opens with someone beating the snot out of Immortus, who,
if memory serves rightly, may or may not also actually be
Kang the Conqueror. Okay, so this is the jumping on point
for those who have gone through the "Dark Reign" and "Siege"
or who frankly got turned off by those and have waited for
this new "Heroic Age." And I can buy that you might not
know who Immortus is, but at least he identifies himself
to his killers. I'm in - I've been a reader of The Avengers
on and off for years, and I turn the page to see that Immortus
has been defeated by…
Um… those kids
from the Direct-to-DVD Next Avengers movie I didn't
Even then, that's
just to pique my curiosity. I can buy that, but it seems
that every time the Avengers has a major reboot after a
period of darkness, we travel through time or to another
dimension to face a super team that has gone astray. Maybe
that's just been the times that I've been suckered into
giving it another try.
On one level,
the story moves along with few surprises, but it's comfortable.
A long-time Avengers foe appears, offering dire warnings
and a promise of permanent truce if the team can save him.
Of course, things aren't quite what they seem to be (or
are they?) and Bendis has set up a pretty good, if vaguely
familiar, plot. (After almost fifty years, some patterns
are bound to develop.)
falter is in characterization. This isn't the team
as people know them, necessarily, and Bendis has the unenviable
task of striking a balance between explaining things to
new readers and being logical in how the characters interact.
As such, a lot of casual conversations turn heavily expository,
such as Spider-Man marveling at Clint Barton becoming Hawkeye
again after years of being Ronin.
That might work
better if the characters felt like different characters
instead of all having the same tone to each other. Everybody's
deferential to Steve Rogers - who isn't Captain America,
but Bucky is - and everybody seems to believe they don't
belong on the team. Except for Hawkeye, who never really
has much of an existence outside Avengers Mansion anyway.
The jokes all
have the same rhythm, and Thor seems like just another guy.
You might quibble that at some point off-panel, some characters
should have done their homework about each other instead
of acting like this is the first day of school.
this does prove that we need a heroic age for Marvel again,
that events like Civil War worked as short term stories
but did a lot of damage to the day to day operation of the
Marvel Universe. It's hard to swallow Tony Stark and Steve
Rogers having a short, awkward conversation in which all
is essentially forgiven when one of them sort of got the
other killed. Guys are stoic, but come ON!
Like every other
long-running superteam, there are also just too many Avengers.
Remember when it was a huge quandary at the end of Giant-Sized
X-Men #1 -- what are we going to do with thirteen X-Men?
Try thirty Avengers, most who go unidentified in the book.
Never mind the photo gallery in the back.
At least this
new Avengers title has a stellar art team going for
it. John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson make a really good
pairing, with Janson's strong inks never overwhelming Romita's
pencils. They complement each other in a rare way, like
Byrne and Austin, Dillin and Giordano or Miller and Janson
It's worth taking
a look, but it's hard to say if The Avengers will
offer anything new now that they're old again...