The Avengers #1
And there came a day like no other...
Credits & Solicit Info:
The Avengers #1
Published by Marvel Comics
"Once An Avenger"
By Kurt Busiek & Pencils by Geoge Perez
Inks by Al Vey
Letters by Richard Stakings
Colors by Comicraft
Edited by Tom Brevoort
A memory before we start...
It's Thanksgiving 1997.
Last Saturday, Michigan, the team that had the toughest schedule in college football, took it to those jerks from Ohio and are a shoe-in for the National Championship (and Charlie Woodson better win the Heisman next week). INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence just died which is a bummer (no word yet on how he went but rumor is it's weird) and I wish the radio would just abolish that stupid Barbie Girl song by Aqua .
Right after the Detroit Lions spank da Bears 55-20, it's time for Turkey and with no game to distract me, it's also time to (brrr) converse with the in-laws. They finally leave what seems like 25 billion years later and after clean-up and getting the kids to bed, it's finally time for me and that book that's been starring at me since yesterday.
Seems like years since I last read Avengers (and enjoyed it - which probably was Mark Waid's last issue well over a year ago). For the last 12 months the title had been hi-jacked by Image and turned to something awful (and I thought nothing could be worse than the Crossing). Well, Heroes Re-shouldabeenstillBorn is over and it's time for heroes to return. I grab the last Labatts from the fridge and reach for the book.
How can you not love George Perez? Without ever opening the cover you just know this book is going to look absolutely beautiful. The cover has Cap, Giant-Man, Beast, Wanda and Hawkeye featured prominently amongst others. Right there in a #1 are five of my six favorite Avengers of all time! I'm stoked and hopeful. I turn to page one...
... and twenty minutes later I'm done. I set the book down and smile.
Hooooly shit! That was sweet!
"Once An Avenger"
Following the critical train wreck that was Heroes Reborn and the 'Return' of the lost heroes to the Marvel Universe proper, the Avengers were a book that needed a relaunch. Editor Ralph Macchio begs pleads and commits various crimes against humanity to get George Perez to run the book (art and writing). George is game but he openly admits he hasn't followed the characters enough over the years to really do the book justice as a writer. He suggests Mark Waid or Kurt Busiek handle that department.
The mini-series Marvels by Busiek was a huge hit, and as Kurt was all ready working on Thunderbolts and the Iron Man relaunch with editor Tom Breevort it was easy enough to pull him in.
The creative team in place, they fashioned a story worthy of an Avengers team that had lost it's way the last many years. The cover calls it Heroes Return but what happens inside this book isn't just heroes returning from some other dimension, this is a return to the very core of what the Avengers are and should be.
The story opens with various Avengers being attacked by Norse entities that strike fast and then disappear. Captain America, Giant-Man, the Wasp and Iron Man meet in Avengers mansion to discuss the team and the attacks on their teammates throughout the world. Thor finally shows up and begins to put the pieces together and they all spell trouble, Vowing to do what's right, Jarvis, their humble butler watches in awe as these heroes true cry out "Avengers Assemble!".
The scene shifts to Hawkeye arriving at the mansion with Scarlet Witch and Quicksliver. As the three enter the mansion, it hits me that Busiek has just used Avengers history as symmetry as the second generation of Avengers goes to meet the first.
Inside the mansion are dozens of former Avengers and Perez includes them all (even if they're dead or unavailable they still show up on in a framed picture or on a monitor somewhere). Perez has also taken the added steps of updating some characters looks. Wanda has a new gypsy inspired costume, Crystal's angled eyes revert back to her original FF #45 way, and of course it wouldn't be Perez without at least a three different Wasp costumes in the book. Bonus points that Jan is no longer an insectoid (even if it's not explained how she regained her human form).
Thor spells the situation out to the assembled heroes (while they hilariously avoid the body-odor of D-Man). Cap then splits the team into five units. Justice, someone just tagging along with ex-Avenger Rage, eagerly blurts out that it sounds like a trap. The senior Avengers look at him sternly and Justice realizes how foolish he looks as they obviously knew this as fact before they started the briefing (they are Avengers after all).
The last few pages of the book focus on Caps team (Wanda, Herc, Crystal, Quasar & D-Man) and their search for Thor's missing Twilight Sword. They find it quick and discover the culprit Modred the Mystic. Before the team can do anything, Modred's true scheme is revealed as the Scarlet Witch is abducted.
The squad attacks and subdue Modred and we find Modred himself was just a ploy of the sinister Mogan Le Fay. Morgan uses her magics, coupled with the Twilight Sword and the Scarlet Witch's power to...
... to what you ask? We don't find out as the Avengers and the entire world fade into white.
Next Issue: A Brave Old World.
The Art: It's Perez so it's perfect ('nuff said). Al Vey does a great job inking and the colors look good but I wish the book was on a higher grade of paper to really let them sparkle.
The Writing: Busiek instantly does something few are capable (or willing to do). He studies. He pulled this story from the grandest epic of the past to the tiniest of tales. There are creatures in this book that appeared in maybe two panels ever before their inclusion here. He has a cast of everyone who's ever been an Avenger and he nails their characterization every time. He mixes humor in easily but still sells the danger. Ultimately, Busiek simply respects the Avengers and it shows.
The only fault with the book is that it ended after 39 fantastic pages.