Avengers #1 - 'Next Avengers' - Bendis, Romita Jnr, Janson and White
Story - So, this bold new relaunch of the Avengers, it's kind of just the same old thing. If you've been following Bendis' take on Earth's Mightiest Heroes for the past few years, this new #1 is nothing new. But since I've loved what Bendis has been doing, then I'm fine with that.
With Avengers #1s, you kind of expect some kind of big shake-up, some big new reason for a team to be formed, but here, you just get Steve Rogers deciding who he wants. The team is pretty much the same characters we've been following throughout New and Mighty over the years, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Bucky Cap, Clint Barton, Iron Man. The only character who hasn't been part of a Bendis-Avengers team before is Thor. I think this is a good thing. Some fans have been concerned that the 'Heroic Age' was going to be a boring old reversion to status-quo, but thankfully, this new team is a mixture of both classic Avengers elements and post-Disassembled modern stuff. So yes, while Clint Barton is now back to being Hawkeye and Thor is back on the team, Spider-Man and Wolverine aren't disappearing anytime soon, and the relationship between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers is still fractious. I've always maintained that Bendis' Avengers had more in common with the classic book that it's detractor's thought, and I think I'm right. If people still have a problem with Wolverine being an Avenger, they need to get over it, it's been established. I am slightly disappointed that Luke Cage isn't in this book, but his involvement in New Avengers makes up for it. I can't go without my monthly dose of Bendis/Cage man-love!
Of course, the Avengers is about more than the line-up, they need foes, they need to fight the foes that no single hero could withstand! And with that, we have Kang! I like that Bendis is sort of going out of his comfort zone here and using a cosmic, time-travel villain. He's more than just Ninjas and the Hood, and his use of Kang proves it. And it's just like Bendis to look at time-travelling villains and finding an angle nobody else would have considered, such as his use of a doomsday weapon that Tony Stark hasn't even invented yet. Yet Kang isn't even the villain here, he's come to warn our heroes that their future children are going to destroy the timestream. And Bendis hasn't just used any children, he's using the characters from the Marvel Animated Feature Next Avengers. I haven't seen the movie, but I will do so after reading this issue, so that's one solid success here. I'm a sucker for time-travel stories, and with Bendis using pre-established characters and even deconstructing ideas about the mechanics of it, I can't wait to see how it all unravels. It's bound to be different than any other Kang story I've read.
This was another very good instalment of Bendis' Avengers epic. It's not a revolution in superhero comics, and if you've hated what he's been doing with the books, then you'll probably still hate this, all of his dialogue tics are still present. Bendis is a love it or hate it creator, and this issue isn't going to change that, no matter how far he steps out of his comfort zone or how many classic Avengers he uses. But for me, a man who falls firmly in the 'love it' camp, I was very pleased with this issue. It didn't take away from what I've enjoyed about Bendis' run on the Avengers so far, it didn't go back to the past, it's still very much a forward-moving train, and I'm willing to stick on it right until the last stop.
Art - John Romita Jnr is, well, he's John Romita Jnr. If you don't already know what you think of his art, then you haven't read nearly enough Marvel comics. I for one like his style a lot, and feel he's a good fit for this book. It was fun to see him return to drawing so many characters he's worked on in the past (Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine) but to have them all together. In this issue he nails both facial expressions (in the 2-page spread of character reactions) and balls-out action when Thor slams into Kang. JRjr is THE Marvel artist, and it's only fitting he's drawing THE Marvel comic.
Best Line - With Bendis, it's almost always more than one line, so this week I present 'Best Dialogue Exchange'!
Spider-Man: Yesterday you were Ronin, today you're Hawkeye
Hawkeye: Would you like me to make a proclamation?
Spider-Man: I think I would
Hawkeye: Today... I am Hawkeye
Spider-Man: Thank You.