Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mighty Avengers #1

Well, this was a pleasant surprise.

I've never really enjoyed the Avengers. They always seemed like a hokey version of the X-Men to me- they didn't have the glue, the gum, the common angst or background to stick together, like the mutants did. (and the Avengers whoed it, with the ever changing roster.) I wasn't a huge fan of Cap, and I kind of liked Iron Man (mostly because I thought he looked cool) but most of the rest left me cold. As they did with most Marvel Fans- despite being the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, they were perhaps Earth's Least Impressive Selling Comic Book, routinely being drubbed in sales by several x-men titles and Spider-Man titles, and Wolverine titles, at the same time.

It was not a surprise to me when Marvel pulled the plug on the avengers- giving them a big, last hurrah- Avengers Dissassembled, which, while not super popular with fans, did draw on the Avengers mythos fairly well, and definetely conveyed a sense of senseless tragedy. Not every death is heroic, unfortunately.

Nor was it really a surprise when Marvel brought them back- just a few months later- as the New Avengers- finally cribbing from DC's book and actually putting some of their most popular characters in their 'big' team book.

With Spider-Man and Wolverine as draws, New Avengers burned up the charts, crushing everything in its way- DC wouldn't outsell it until 52 came out and Civil War diluted the appeal of the New Avengers- and it still remains Marvel's best selling ongoing, and it technically is the best selling ongoing, although 52 really isn't much of a mini-series, more of an ongoing with a cut off point- lots of comics don't make it to 52 issues.

Avengers purists, however, were not happy. Most of them are irrational nitwits, but there are a few who are able to legitimately voice complaints. The dynamic of the New Avengers does not resemble the Old Avengers- and The Avengers, while only somewhat popular, were popular enough to have a loyal following that sold them in the 30-40k region regularly. Also, virtually all Marvel staff are avowed Avengers fans.

So now they get their own book. That's not a surprise, either- Where there's a market, Marvel will go- but what really surprised me was how good it was.

Taking the form of a series of flash forwards, the book follows Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) and Tony Stark as they decide on a new team. Bendis is in perfect form here, with snappy back and forth dialogue, punctuated with thought bubbles. It's easy to follow their logic as they assemble a super-team- needing a team that fills different roles, but is truly Mighty. There's also a couple juicy bits in there- one, a slight revalation that Tony has the hots for Carol, is kind of a given, but a few others come out.
One, Tony refers to the recently deceased Captain America (Steve Rogers) as Rogers, which causes a hitch in Carol's mind, as she looked up to Cap as much or more than anyone.
Two: Carol, while making a soft attempt to capture Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) she says that Captain America is still alive, in a special facility. While Marvel's been quite clear on the fact that Steve is dead, I'm betting that they're essentially putting Cap back in the ice- having him be frozen or stasis-ed until medical technology advances enough to heal him. We'll see more about what this means soon.
Three: While reprimanding Carol for not taking Spider-Woman in, Tony acknowledges that they really have better things to do than bring in the New Avengers, but tells Carol that they have to or "They Will", which I'm inferring as a reference to the Council on Superhuman Activities' Thunderbolts, who are not under Tony's authority, and furthermore, are comprised of sick, twisted murderers and one poor girl who's just trying to get out alive. This, I believe, is a set-up for future clashes between Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, and the Thunderbolts. (Justice, Like Lightning)- and I'm looking forward to it. The Thunderbolts are a true superteam of Villains, with the law on their side- I'm really wondering why there isn't an iconic team like this already out there. I'll miss the old Thunderbolts, the ones struggling for redemption, but let's just say I won't be surprised when i get that book too.

Mighty Avengers makes me want to read the Avengers. Again, I tip my hat to Brian Michael Bendis.

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