Tails of the Pet Avengers #1
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the original Pet Avengers mini. It was a good mix of light humor and superheroics which managed to be kid friendly without being condescending. Now we have a Pet Avengers one-shot before their second mini (previously an ongoing) launches next month. This comic features six vignettes covering almost every member of the team. Furball is not featured, but perhaps his absence will be covered in the next mini (or perhaps he's just spending time with his newly non-insane former master).
The first story covers Frog Thor's bittersweet reunion with his tribe. This story pretty much has it all: a very brief summary of the previous mini, action, emotion, and perhaps the best art in the issue. It also manages to establish the nobility of its main character in a scant five pages, which is quite the feat.
The next story covers Zabu coming to the rescue of a pair of T-Rex hatchlings in the Savage Land. Again, this short story is able to establish a central facet of Zabu's character and show that he is more than what he appears to be in a bare handful of pages. The art here is not as detailed as the Frog Thor story, but it is clean and expressive.
The third story features Ms. Lion, May Parker's pet (male) dog. Ms. Lion was the Rick Jones or Snapper Carr of the group during their last outing, but showed his heroism during the final fight with Thanos. Here, Ms. Lion again establishes that he's far more than he appears, as he manages to stop a plot to rob a cruise ship through nothing more than his own quick thinking. It's a simple story, but it is good to see Ms. Lion continuing to act the hero outside of the team. The art is cute, and a good match for its title hero.
Lockjaw takes on Mad Dog for the Terrigen Mists in the fourth story. As in the prior Pet Avengers mini, Lockjaw manages to save the day without any acknowledgment from his human (or rather, Inhuman) masters. The art here looks almost like a modern Saturday morning cartoon in comic form, but I see that as a good thing. The characters are all very expressive and the layouts are effective at conveying the story.
I was not as fond of the Lockheed story as I was the others. We only see Lockheed in a few panels over the course of the story, with the main character instead being a high school girl constantly teased for being an introverted dragon loving weirdo. I have zero sympathy for this girl. When Lockheed finally does show up, the effect is not to help the girl make new friends and break out of her shell, but instead to drive people away and pull the girl deeper into her fantasy world. What a horrible story! The art here is well done, but really is not my cup of tea. It's very "Sunday Comics" looking.
The final story features Redwing, the Falcon's, umm, falcon, as he tries to stop a robbery with the help of Melvin, his biggest fan (and a pigeon!). Melvin ends up saving the day, with Redwing getting a bit of comeuppance for his arrogance. At the end of the day, both Melvin and the readers learn a powerful lesson about what truly motivates superheroes: guilt! The art here is serviceable, but not the best match for the story; unlike the Ms. Lion piece, it is not really the best fit for the title character.
Overall, this was a really enjoyable comic. The vignettes, with one exception, accomplished the goal of highlighting the main features of each character's personality, while showing that each is a hero in his own right. The Lockheed story was the only downside to this issue; I wish the writers had given us a Furball feature instead, especially since Lockheed has been getting more face-time of late in S.W.O.R.D. Still, this was an excellent comic and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a classic, fun superhero story.