And there came a day, a day like many others before it, when Marvel found itself releasing a new “Avengers” series- on that day, “Avengers” volume 9 #1 was born. To set itself apart from the many volumes that came before it. Time marches on, and Marvel relaunches its flagship book. But can a new series stand apart from many, many, many similar Marvel comics? Let’s see what Jed MacKay, C.F. Villa, and Frederico Blee have up their sleeves…
Written by Jed MacKay
Illustrated by C.F. Villa
Colored by Frederico Blee
Lettered by VC’s Corey Petit
JED MACKAY AND STORMBREAKER C.F. VILLA TAKE THE REINS OF EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES! The Star. The Icon. The Witch. The Construct. The God. The Engineer. The King. The world is ever in peril, and a new team of Avengers mobilizes to meet any dangers that dare threaten the planet. But when TERMINUS attacks, a new and insidious danger rears its head: one that the Avengers know all too well, and one that comes to them in the most dangerous of guises – that of a friend.
Though it had its ups and downs, Jason Aaron’s “Avengers” run started with a bang. Those Avengers were matched up against the Celestials, the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. Before that, Jonathan Hickman’s “Avengers” dealt with the imminent destruction of All There Is as the multiverse collapsed. By comparison, these “Avengers” are taking a leisurely start. Most of the first issue is spent in a fight against Terminus, a big pink alien robot who wants to eat Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. or whatever. Sounds like an average Avengers’ Wednesday to me.
So does that make this new #1 a dud? Not necessarily. Jed MacKay has earned his spot over the last couple of years as one of Marvel’s freshest talents. He seems an obvious pick to helm the flagship book. And all of his strengths as a writer are on display here. His character voices are great, and his vision for how the Avengers operate are clear. And fun! That almost never happens, the Avengers tend to be a pretty opaque organization.
Running parallel to the fight, we follow Captain Marvel. She’s been elected the new Avengers chair on what looks like an Avengers-only phone app. Leading into the fight, she does a gold ‘ol #1-issue-getting-the-band-back-together. Her team line-up is very traditional, almost conservative. She grabs Captain America (Sam Wilson), Scarlet Witch, Vision, Thor, Iron Man, and Black Panther. And MacKay spends the issue going through Captain Marvel’s entire thought process. You see her philosophy in superhero team composition. She orients the team to be “firefighters rather than cops,” which sounds nice enough. But if that all sounds like it’s sort of out in the weeds, that’s because it is.
Considering that the other half of the issue is all superpower punch-up, there better be some pretty good art to carry those pages. Fortunately, Villa and Blee make it look easy. Despite Villa’s very Saturday morning cartoon pencil work, his pages capture surprising detail. His character faces don’t even have that many lines in them, but they convey such a deep inner emotional life! And even better are the ‘camera angles,’ taking cues for shot composition out of the best Marvel movies. It’s clean and zippy. Perfect for an “Avengers” book.
It’s a good thing this first issue ends on a cliffhanger. I mean, I’m enough of a Marvel zombie that I’d probably keep reading this series out of sheer stubborn habit, but this issue lacks a clear hook. I actually sort of like MacKay’s idea of organizational logistics, and I like that we don’t overplay that hand by breaking up the Avengers and making them fugitives or whatever. This is a book that is happy to stick with the comic status quo, and I’m always complaining that not enough books try to do that.
I mentioned a cliffhanger, and though there’s little foreshadowing (and yet it’s thuddingly obvious when you-know-who shows up), the villain reveal does promise big stuff to come. And I know MacKay gives his artists what to do, so I’m sure we’ll get something really big and wild down the road. But this isn’t a review of the potential of the series, this is a review of “Avengers” #1.
It’s a pretty decent issue, this “Avengers” #1, but it’s the ninth comic to bear that name and number. The vision presented in this issue isn’t grand and operatic, it’s a small office drama. But that may be refreshing to some readers, who grow numb to the reality-quaking stakes of most “Avengers” relaunches. This version of “Avengers” #1 starts small.
Final Verdict: 7.2 – A talented creative team plays it safe, starting off their new series on a relatively quiet note.