If there’s one thing you can give credit to Marvel Comics for, it’s that they certainly know how to milk a brand. They have two major team franchises – Avengers and X-Men – and good lord do they take advantage of them. From numerous teams of overlapping characters to books that have the label just to fool fans into buying it (Avengers Arena, anyone?), Marvel knows what to slap on the title to get fans to pick up the book.
In that spirit, we get the debut issue of a new Mighty Avengers title. Back before the Avengers blew up huge, there was one Avengers title called New Avengers. After Civil War, the Marvel heroes split camps and while the New Avengers went underground, the government-sponsored “legit” Avengers got their very own title in Mighty Avengers. Successful enough, Marvel continued the course and now there are six Avengers books alone (Avengers, New, Secret, Uncanny, Mighty, Assemble), not counting spin-offs and minis that may tie in. Does the Marvel U need six teams of Avengers? Hell, are there even enough characters to warrant six teams of Avengers?
With Mighty Avengers, we find out that the answer is a good solid no.
If there is one thing we can definitely take home from Brian Bendis’s tenure with the Avengers it’s that Luke Cage is a big deal in the Marvel U. Maybe not Captain America or Wolverine level, but definitely on par with the likes of Hawkeye or Storm. But does that mean Luke Cage needs his own team of Avengers when he’s not doing anything else? I guess so. It starts out as the old Heroes for Hire business using Cage, the new Power Man and White Tiger , but of course that falls apart quickly since the Heroes for Hire schtick was never really “heroic” to begin with.
So when the events of Infinity come crashing down to Earth and there’s a WORLD WITH NO AVENGERS to be conquered, leave it to Cage, Power Man, and the two other heroes he happened to run into earlier in the day to band together to save the day! Those heroes being Photon (Monica Rambeau, former Captain Marvel) and Spider-Man, since Spidey needs to be on three Avengers teams after all.
Excuse me if I don’t jump in excitement over the matter.
Beyond the matter of the market simply not needing (or asking for) yet another Avengers team, this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel and asking us to nod along and pretend that it’s good. Marvel is cranking out team books like they’re going out of style, and thus we have mish-mosh pile-ups of every conceivable roster of characters all yelling ASSEMBLE because that’s what you have to do to sell five issues before the next crossover.
And this book isn’t even very good. The plot rests upon the notion that Luke Cage and his crew are the Avengers when there are no Avengers left. Yet another Infinity tie-in coming out the very same day has the likes of Wolverine, She-Hulk, Hank Pym and others standing around letting the various kids have a special olympics for funsies. There are literally HUNDREDS of super-heroes floating around that could come in to help out. Why does this book try to pretend that this squad is so damn important? What is the POINT of this book?
And then there’s Greg Land’s art. In my readings of late, Marvel has defintitely moved from a traditional super-hero style to more of really whatever the artist really feels like drawing. Greg Land has a very distinctive model style, in which you can usually tell exactly what his model source is for the art. This time around, we can see that his idea of Monica Rambeau is Halle Berry, because every time Monica Rambeau shows up, Greg Land draws Halle Berry. And perhaps there was a precendence set for this with the success of Bryan Hitch transforming Nick Fury into Samuel L. Jackson, but it’s happening often, yet inconsistently so various characters no longer have their own looks anymore. The characters are modelled after actors instead of the actors tailoring themselves to fit the characters. That’s backwards. And it’s not just Land doing it. Everytime Mike Deodato draws Norman Osbourne he gives us Tommy Lee Jones.
So Mighty Avengers is now here, and it’s pretty ugh. If you’re a huge Luke Cage fan, then here’s your place to see him. If you just want Avengers action, then go look somewhere else. This is passable at best, but only because it showed up on time.