Avengers #1 starts out strong, giving us a hint to the plot of the opening arc before moving straight to team building. I like this lineup quite a bit: We finally get to see the "Big Three" together again; Hawkeye is finally back in a proper costume; and, Marvel's two biggest names, Spider-Man and Wolverine, are included on the team. Spider-Woman is the only odd person out here, but I am happy to see her on the team if for no other reason than a bit of gender balancing. This feels more like Grant Morrison's "Big Seven" JLA than any of Brian Michael Bendis' prior Avengers books (Spider-Woman is Aquaman, I suppose).
Nevertheless, this is still a Bendis comic, so there is a good deal of banter and some exposition. Because this is an opening issue, none of it feels gratuitous though. What little banter there is helps to establish the relationships between these characters, some of whom have never met, and the exposition is necessary to establish the impetus for the Avengers' first mission. And what a mission it is! We have the Next Avenges, Kang the Conqueror, and Wonder Man all tossed into the mix, and time travel on top of that. The first story arc bears a great deal of promise at the very least.
I am a fan of John Romita, Jr.'s art, but the cover to this issue really turned me off. The interiors are a huge improvement though, so I cannot say why the cover looks so terrible when the same inker and colorist apparently worked on it. For better or worse, this is John Romita, Jr. at his best, so your mileage may very depending on your tolerance for his rather stylized work. Klaus Janson's inks are strong, and I like Dean White's choice of color palette, which lends a brightness to this new Heroic Age.
Overall, this is a very strong book to herald the beginning of Marvel's Heroic Age. For those who doubted the direction that Marvel was taking post-Siege, this is still very much a Bendis book; it actually reminds me quite a bit of Bendis' Mighty Avengers, minus the thought balloons. For the Bendis haters, I would still recommend giving this book a chance. His quirks are kept to a minimum here, and the story has the sort of "big adventure" feel that was lacking from Bendis' other Avengers work.