OK this was probably my most anticipated comic of the week. I was a happy customer of Bendis's New/Mighty/Dark Reign era and I was curious to see how the shift in the status quo would give us the more traditional Avengers book that had been seemingly replaced with everything that followed Disassembled.
I definitely am curious of how this would go but I confess what I'm more excited about is next weeks Secret Avengers book. Using Mighty as a benchmark for Bendis's "traditional" superhero formula I cant say i was expecting something that would blow me away. Well I was right about one thing, I wasnt blown away but I confess i was pleasantly surprised. This was a lot better than I was expecting.
First of all, we have the story. It plants the seeds of a big time traveling story and Kang is in the thick of it. As a Kang fan this was basically a free free point towards the book just for adding a personal favourite of mine. Even moreso when you have a few moments of brief dialog that explains just who he is. Kang in his own words is a Time Warrior with access to every weapon ever created thanks to his mastery of time travel. According to Steve Rogers he's a Time Terrorist.
Regardless of this, Kang starts planting the first seeds of this story by painting the bleak future depicted in the Next Avengers DVD movie where Ultron killed them all and their kids defeated Ultron. Only after that, they went rogue and simply took over where Ultron left off, or so Kang says...you can never trust a villain even when they claim they have the best of intentions.
So Kang leave the Avengers with a warning and leaves them to find a way into the future by themselves...only to meet with a Hulk who seems to be a LOT like the Maestro...but it could also be the Hulk from Next Avengers along with another character who I have NO idea who it is.
On paper it reads a lot like a classic Avengers tale, right? Time travel, a team assembling complete with the big 3 (Iron Man, Captain America (Bucky-Cap this time) and Iron man, a major threat to kick things off, a classic Avengers villain, mystery, intrigue etc. It truly IS the Avengers. Not the New, Mighty or Dark but THE Avengers. With a Wolverine and Spidey to boot.
But the Bendis-style dialog, which either makes or breaks his books is the one weak link of the story. Other times it is used to perfection, other times like this it really misses the mark at times. Most notably the huge double page with the one-word replies and a REALLY awkward convo between Steve Rogers and Wonder Man or Bucky's "hey" moment with Thor.. It can flow really well and then get that odd bit of dialog that makes everything grind unsteadily. It still made it enough for me NOT to be disappointed but I definitely felt that awkwardness at times.
Art? I like JRJR when he's on his A-game. This wasnt it, but the interiors for the most part were WAY better than his cover. Parts of the art looked nice while other sections didnt seem of the same caliber. It really had an inconsistency at times. But after looking at the cover to #4 I'm hoping he's working off some rust. JRJR still draws a damn fine Thor though.