Anghus Houvouras reviews the second issue of Marvel NOW!’s Avengers…
“The greatest heroes in comics together on one unbeatable team! The Avengers ‘go large,’ expanding their roster and their sphere of influence to a global and even interplanetary level. When Captain America puts out his call – who will answer? Big threats, big ideas, big idealism – these are the Avengers NOW!“
I was excited about the first issue of the new Avengers series. Marvel NOW! has been an interesting experiment that has been met with a certain degree of excitement as well as a fair amount of trepidation. If you’ve been anywhere near the interwebs in recent weeks you’ve no doubt heard of the venom and hate being spewed at Dan Slott over the direction of the forthcoming Superior Spider-Man. And many of the other recent titles have been met with a certain degree of ambivalence. But I’m just going to say it now: Avengers is shaping up to be one of the best comic books on the shelf.
The second issue perfectly ties into the first. After the core Avengers group take off to Mars and get their asses kicked, Captain America has to enact a plan he and Iron Man conceived to build a better team. Much of the second issue is spent in flashback form with Steve Rogers and Tony Stark recruiting a diverse lineup of superheroes including some familiar faces as well as a few surprises.
Many of the recruits have been Avengers mainstays of the past five years, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider Woman, and Ms. Marvel among them. The new talent pool being tapped into was something of a surprise. New Mutants like Cannonball and Sunspot. Awesome underused Marvel mainstays like Shang Chi: The Master of Kung Fu and Falcon. And even a few characters that required some research (thanks Wikipedia!). Writer Jonathan Hickman is having a lot of fun with the premise and the whole issue has a sense of fun sorely missing from so many superhero comics these days. The recruiting scenes play out like an extended scene from X-Men: First Class and do a great job of capturing the essence of each character in a limited number of panels. For a book about a dozen heroes, I feel like in just two issues I have an idea what each of them are about. That’s just good writing.
And the art, as I mentioned in last’s month review, is just stunning. Jerome Opena is drawing the best looking comic I’ve seen in ages. His style is perfectly suited for the Avengers and I hope he sticks with the book. He and Hickman are crafting one hell of a story arc.
Speaking of story, there isn’t a lot of forward progress. Our heroes are still trapped on Mars being detained by the a would be world conqueror named Ex Nihlo. There’s some exposition to flesh out his insane plot to forcibly evolve humanity, but you might as well change his name to ‘Ex Machina’ as he seems to be nothing more than a device to get the new Avengers assembled and give them something to punch. Still, it felt like a needed break after the rapid fire pace of issue #1. There’s so much going on in the first two issues, and yet it never feels rushed or padded.
It may be way too early to be declaring Marvel NOW! a success or a failure, but I’m in. I’ve been enjoying the new books and newly aligned creative teams on some of the major titles and I’m hopeful that Avengers will continue to build upon an impressive first two issues.