Up has kind of been down this week, and I ended up deciding to make a spite purchase outside of my normal boundaries. This would be the first issue of Marvel’s latest Avengers relaunch, written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by John Romital, Jr., inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Dean White, and lettered by VC’s Cory Petit. (This is another reason I shifted over to manga: fewer creator credits.)
Sean T. Collins assured me that the comic wasn’t half-bad, and he’s right; it’s not. There are some funny bits that I really liked, and they were funny because they fit the characters that delivered them. But it’s still not what I’d describe as a particularly good Avengers comic for the same reasons the last major relaunch wasn’t a particularly good Avengers comic. It’s not really about people doing things that define them as Avengers; it’s about people talking about being defined as Avengers, and not in any qualitative way, even by this author’s tell-don’t-show standards. It’s even more insular, assuming sufficient previous knowledge so that they don’t even need to trot out any shorthand. The reader is being reassured that this is just as Avenger-y as anything they’d previously liked about the franchise, which indicates a certain degree of insecurity, and that insecurity isn’t unwarranted.
The scene where Steve Rogers, the former Captain America, tells everyone why they’re there, just killed me. It opens with this:
And then moves on to this, because maybe the reader couldn’t intuit this stuff on their own and need to be told:
First of all, where are the big office chairs with the trademarked character logos on the back? The only chair at all is that spindly Shaker thing under Hawkeye, though it kind of looks like Wolverine is also sitting down, though he could be on a chaise. I also love that Thor looks like Brittany from Glee – tall, blond, stupid and bored half to death. He looks like he’d be texting if he had his phone handy. But beyond those nitpicks, I’m totally reminded of another big cartoon franchise thanks to Steve’s insistence on reducing his team-mates to catch-phrases. I really couldn’t help but think of the Smurfs.
If you want a more in-depth and serious consideration of the comic, please read this entertaining round-table over at Comics Alliance. I’m going to get to work on my Unified Smurfette Theory of Super-Team Rosters.