Tails of the Pet Avengers #1
First, a little background! This is a prelude to a sequel to 2009's Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers miniseries. The 2009 mini focused on the formation of a team of "Pet Avengers" -- Lockjaw (the teleporting pet of the Inhumans), Zabu (Ka-Zar's sabretooth tiger), Lockheed (Kitty's dragon), Redwing (the Falcon's pet falcon), Furball (Speedball's cat), Throg (a human that was cursed into froghood, who later obtained a chip of Mjolnir and gained the power of Thor), and Ms. Lion (Aunt May's dog from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends) -- and their first adventure. In that story, they attempted to gather the Infinity Gems after Lockjaw overheard Reed Richards discussing such a plan with Black Bolt and Medusa. Over the course of four issues, the Pet Avengers travel throughout the world, and even back in time, to collect the gems before encountering Thanos to battle over them.
This prelude contains six vignettes, each one focusing on a Pet Avenger in a solo adventure.
Although the book is broken into five-page vignettes, we get a complete story for each character. The art is beautiful and consistent -- Colleen Coover and Team Gurihiru did two stories each, and one story was done by Ig Guara, the artist on both the 2009 miniseries and the upcoming one.
The stories themselves move at a quick pace, but somehow manage to fit in cute character moments and even some development. For example, Throg's story involves him coming to an important decision regarding his frog clan, and Zabu's story involves a development with his character.
This book is also a nice primer for readers unfamiliar with the original miniseries. Each character gets a chance to show what they add to the team, for the most part, and their character traits -- like Throg's nobility, and Redwing's superior attitude -- shine through.
It also bears mentioning that this book is a nice diversion from all the darkness, violence, and death that pervade the Marvel Universe (and the DC Universe, should you consider it) these days. I had a silly-looking smile on my face the entire time I was reading this.
In short, these stories are action-packed, but leave room for other advancements in character -- you can't ask for more in a short story, and you get it six times in this one-shot. Wow.
There are six solo stories in this issue. There are seven Pet Avengers. Seriously, where's Furball? It's very odd that he doesn't get a story. In fact, he doesn't even appear in any of the vignettes -- his only appearances are on the cover and in the cover previews for Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed #1.
I found Lockheed's vignette to be a little disappointing. It was a cute and enjoyable short, but Lockheed only had a tangential appearance in the story, which was primarily about a human character. That was a missed opportunity.
Although there are 30 story pages (six stories at five pages each), $3.99 is a little steep for this. I felt like I got my money's worth, but it continues to boggle my mind that a book marketed towards children would be among Marvel's most expensive titles. Luckily, the miniseries itself will only be $2.99 a pop.
Collectively, this is about an 8 for story. Sure, they're cute stories aimed at kids, but a lot happens in a skimpy number of pages for each. They get docked a full point for excluding Furball.
I'm going to shock everyone and give this a 10.
Now, before one of the Brits screams "Off with his head!", I should explain myself. As an artist (a hobbyist, anyways), I can appreciate how difficult it is to draw convincing animals. It was Jim Lee that once said that animals are the hardest thing to draw in comics, and he wasn't kidding. Now, try to imagine having to draw animals in action, with emotive faces, and from many angles. Still with me? Now, try to imagine doing that multiple times in every panel! It's a very, very difficult job, and these folks pull it beautifully. Special props go out to the females -- Colleen Coover and the two women of Gurihiru -- who draw the best pages of the issue.
This is a 9. Go out and buy it.