First Impressions: Avengers #1

The dark reign of Norman Osborn is over and a new heroic age has begun in the Marvel Universe, so here we have an all new Avengers #1 to kick things off. It’s also being accompanied by the launches of Secret Avengers, Avengers Academy, and the relaunch of New Avengers. For those of you keeping score at home, that makes for four Avengers books a month. I suppose that’s reasonable. Secret and Academy should steer pretty clear of what’s going on in New & adjectiveless, which leaves two books a month for two of the three branches of Marvel’s premier super team. Just so long as they do the sensible thing and schedule the books to come out one each week, I think it’ll work from a creative point of view and my wallet’s point of view.

For years, Nick Fury was basically the man in charge of the Marvel Universe. After “Secret War”, Maria Hill was the new Nick Fury. After “Civil War”, Tony Stark was the new Maria Hill. After “Secret Invasion”, Norman Osborn was the new Tony Stark. and now after “Siege”, Steve Rogers is the new Norman Osborn. Everybody follow me on that one? Good. The former Captain America is calling the shots now and he’s put together a few teams of Avengers. The one featured in this book consists of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Woman, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Hawkeye. That’s right, Clint Barton is back to being Hawkeye again.

Just as the new team is getting settled and ready to do some avenging, Kang the Conqueror shows up with a grim message from the future. That’s the only kind of message Kang would ever show up with, I suppose. In a particularly cool sequence, Thor blasts Kang through a window and across a few city blocks before he can get more than a few sentences into his opening monologue. When he finally does get a chance to speak, he tells the newly assembled Avengers that at some point in the future Ultron comes back, kills the Avengers and takes over the world. Ultimately the Avengers’ children (whose children, specifically, we don’t know) defeat Ultron and take over his empire. But since they’re young, extremely powerful, and irresponsible, they now pose a greater threat than Ultron ever did. Kang says the Avengers must go into the future and stop them before it’s too late.

This book’s written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by John Romita Jr.. Bendis has been writing pretty much everything Avengers for the last six years, so this is nothing new. What is different is that this is the first time Bendis is writing the team not in the midst of some Marvel-wide crisis. From “Disassembled”, to “House of M”, to “Civil War”, to “World War Hulk”, to “Secret Invasion”, to “Dark Reign”, to “Siege” Bendis has been giving it pretty rough to the Avengers ever since he started. Whereas all of the aforementioned stories felt gritty, dramatic, and real, this feels like a big time super hero story. Bringing in an old school Avengers foe like Kang certainly helps. The whole thing still has that trademark Bendis wit and I think it works well. Marvel is calling this “The Heroic Age” and it certainly feels like a new age has started for the Avengers.

Romita Jr. also works well with big, flashy super heroics so he fits this book. My only complaint is about the way he draws team leader Maria Hill. Hill actually looked pretty hot when drawn by the likes of Salvador Larroca, Steve McNiven, and David Finch. Romita makes her look like a skinny lesbian. In fact, she bears a striking resemblance to famous lesbian tennis player Billie Jean King:


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