The Avengers #1
It has been nearly six years since Janet Van Dyne indulged in one too many Margaritas beside the Mansion swimming pool, and unwittingly brought about the disassembly of the Avengers. And now in The Avengers #1, after a Civil War, a Secret Invasion and a Siege, we have finally come full circle.
I was not expecting to enjoy this book, but was pleasantly surprised.
The most striking thing about this re-launch is how organic it feels, in contrast to previous reboots of Avengers titles which have been slightly awkward affairs, with unlikely gatherings of fan-pleasing heroes banding together just because they were there. This effectiveness is undoubtedly due to the groundwork laid down by writer Brian Michael Bendis over the course of these last six years, allowing him to cast eternal good-guy Steve Rogers as the planet’s top cop with a deck full of the world’s greatest superheroes from which to deal his winning Avengers hand. This is truly a greatest hits team, being composed of the big names of the Marvel Universe, plus Spider Woman and Maria Hill representing the ladies. It is so typical of Bendis’ writing that Jessica Drew questions her place on this team, bringing real human insecurities to the book, and hints of an as-yet unseen final member effectively draw the reader back for the next installment.
As for the art, John Romita jr is another bankable name with plenty of fans of his own. I have never been all that enamoured of his work, but I now realize that is because I have never read any of it – his work is proper, old school story telling, and while he may not offer up splash pages that seem predestined to be turned into posters, it is really very fun to read. It feels a little like he has yet to get a handle on drawing Spider-Woman, but hopefully this will develop in future issues. Flicking through the book initially I was underwhelmed by the art but I cannot stress enough that it has to be read rather than simply looked at. The coloring, by Dean White, really adds to the experience here, greatly enhancing the mood and bringing the linework to life.
The overall plot is a strong launching point for the series, with plenty of significant story beats, and questions to be addressed in coming issues, and significant threats for the heroes to face. And while I won’t go into details, the final page really addresses the one thing about this full-circle approach that was nagging at me.
Overall I would give this book four StarkTech Doomsday devices out of five, being a great starting point for both new and old readers, and would recommend you pick it up even if, like me, you are initially wary. If you would like to read just one of the many Avengers books that are launching this summer, this would be the one to choose. The Heroic Age is here, and I’ll raise a Margarita to that.