The Avengers. In the past seven years, they have been Disassembled, New, Young, Mighty, Initiative, and now we are back to just plain Avengers. After all the events and all the insanity, we are back to square one.
Well not quite. As voracious Marvel readers know, there are still loose ends out there. The Scarlett Witch. The Decimation. Vision is, well, different.
Beyond just storylines though, this is not your dad’s Avengers. Beyond the wide ranging extended family that Steve Rogers gathers early on in this book, this team sees Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, and Wolverine. It has Bucky on the team as Captain America. Steve Rogers is the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. not the head of the Avengers. But at the end of the day, we are back to square one because Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are a team again.
Bendis acknowledges that there are still unresolved plot threads. When Steve approaches Wonder Man, the actor says that getting the Avengers back together is a stupid idea. The big guy blames the Avengers for all that has happened. It is a shade of DC. The villains the Avengers face exist because of the Avengers. Simon misses the fact that as long as there are super powered vigilantes, together or separate, there will be threats for them to face. The Avengers, to a certain extent, need to exist in a world of superheroes. Like the assembled masses rebuilding Soldier Field in the comic, it is a show of hope, a symbol for their cause.
Funny I should mention the distinguished competition, there are shades of Kingdom Come in the story that Bendis sets up here. Kang comes to our time to get the reassembled team to go take care of their out of control kids. Surely, this will not end with Steve wielding the shield?
The Heroic Age really begins here, despite banners on Prince of Power or preview books available this week. There is a different tone to this book. The threat presented is a big idea; its direness affects the future, not the street level humans of the Marvel Universe. This is not the grim and gritty story we have come to expect from the recent Marvel Universe. There is a sense of fun that has not been present in books involving the big three.
That’s not to say that Bendis is a different writer. Many of the complaints that have been levied against him will continue. All of his characters speak in that quick and witty dialogue that has become known as Bendis speak. They are a little more polite though, they tend not to interrupt each other quite as much. The book is also dialogue heavy, even with big battles between Thor and Kang or the mysterious Next Avengers and Immortus.
Romita is one of the classic comics artists. A fan favorite and a Marvel mainstay, it is good to see him on the team book. Especially considering that he has brought the new style that was refined in the blood soaked pages of Kick-Ass with him. It is a great look for the book, it looks like it feels – like a comic. That was something that the more realistic art of The New Avengers stole from it, that feeling of a four color panel.
Despite masterful interpretations of almost every character and the great storytelling we expect from the master son of a master… JRJR is not perfect here. The new leader of the Avengers is revealed to be Maria Hill. To date, she has been a sexy soldier in spandex. It was easy to see why Tony Stark would want her to be a niche on the head board of his bed. Under the new pencils of Romita, Jr., she is mannish. He plays the soldier and short hair bit just a tad too butch and robs her of that bit of appeal.
The Avengers are back. Sure, there will still be complaints about the team and the voicing. If Marvel has proved nothing over the past seven years, it is that it is near impossible to please everyone at once. This book should come a long way towards that goal though, if the conservative and vocal fans will quiet down long enough to let it entertain them.
Pull list: Afterlife with Archie, Bodies, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Coffin Hill, Dead Boy Detectives, The Fade Out, The Goon, Harley Quinn, Hinterkind, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon,The Maxx Maximized, Miracleman, Ms. Marvel, Multiversity, Rasputin, Rocket Raccoon, Sandman: Overture, Silver Surfer, The Walking Dead, Wonder Woman