Avengers #1


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Avengers #1


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: John Romita, Jr.
  • Inks: Klaus Janson
  • Colors: Dean White
  • Story Title: Next Avengers
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 19, 2010

Marvel’s Heroic Age is upon us, and what better title to exemplify this new status quo than Earth’s Mightiest, the Avengers. Writer Brian Michael Bendis covers a lot of ground in this debut issue that literally spans many decades. Throughout all this business, he also makes time for a different version of the picking the team scene.

The New Avengers were formed mostly by fate and circumstance. In Mighty Avengers, Tony Stark took his new role as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and systematically constructed a team based on what elements each individual can add to the group. It was definitely a new way of going through the process, but in the end, it didn’t work out. By stacking the deck, he ushered in a team that ultimately failed under its own weight.

Here, Captain Steve Rogers, now the world’s “Top Cop,” a designation previously held by Nick Fury, Tony Stark, and Norman Osborn, almost combines the two processes. He has scanned the files and resources and invited dozens of established heroes to participate. He alludes to each individual being chosen for a specific purpose or team (New Avengers, Secret Avengers or Avengers Academy anyone?). The team he puts together for this title seems to be, more or less, the A-team. It’s safe to say that they may be the most socially visible and publicly recognized of all the groups. Will some Avengers have slots on multiple rosters? It seems that way since Wolverine and Spider-Man have already been announced as part of the New Avengers lineup when that title launches next month.

The book begins with what appears to be a murder in the far future from some familiar-ish heroes. This bendy use of time frames welcomes the Avengers’ historically evil, time traveling villain, Kang. Kang appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy for an issue or two earlier this year but has practically been unused since the first arc of Young Avengers. His appearance here is a wonderful call back to the Avengers’ past, while maintaining a modern style.

Come to think of it, that seems to be the modus operandi for the Heroic Age. It may be too early to make such a general statement, but if this is the desired feeling Marvel wishes to elicit, then kudos on a so-far success. This whole endeavor is turning out to be a re-introduction and melding of Golden and Silver Age ideas, characters, and themes, but through a modern filter. In Invincible Iron Man, the last act of Siege, and definitely here, the melding has been working. The Heroic Age is gladly not about Thor saving kittens from trees and Wolverine waxing poetic about a rainbow. It’s merely a brighter era being revisited smartly and with minimal novelty or cheesiness.

Speaking of a brighter era, few artists have the ability to create such an iconic and classic feel than John Romita, Jr. Realizing that he’s been drawing funny books for multiple decades, but never having tackled an ongoing Avengers book seems unreal. Bendis makes effort to write towards Romita’s strengths, making the interiors not only a solid read, but a pleasure to look at. The inks are tight, the colors are vibrant, and the story is large. This is the return to bigger and (presumably) more global Avengers stories. With the first arc dealing with time travel, one can only imagine what future arcs will have in store.

Rounding out the package is a look to the past with an original back up feature, Avengers Assemble: An Oral History of the Avengers. I was pleasantly surprised with how effective this was. It’s basically a retelling of classic Avengers stories, from day one, but in the form of a conversational text piece. We’re given the thoughts and motivations of certain Marvel characters reflecting on the past. Hear what Janet Van Dyne thought of Tony Stark and how in awe Stark was of Thor and his ilk. It’s a fun examination and borderline writing experiment that gives us a glimpse of not only these fictional characters' thought, but also how Bendis perceives them. It’s a great idea for extra material that seems to be carrying over into other Avengers titles. The Art Adams and Jack Kirby spreads that accompany the text piece are right at home with the tone of the whole book.

More than other emotions, respect seems to be the feeling that bubbles to the surface most prominently when weighing the attributes of this relaunch. There’s a respect for the characters, for the artist, and for a former and arguably more focused time in comic books, present all over these pages. Whether it’s been missing all this time or doesn’t belong in modern times are arguments for other men. For this reader, it’s just a nice change of pace that I hope doesn’t get abandoned too quickly or overstay its welcome. 


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