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Avengers #1: It's Been a While

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  • Avengers #1: It's Been a While

    Avengers (2018) #1It’s been a while.

    I’ve always been an Avengers fan, but it’s been a very long time -- nearly 200 issues, in fact -- since I’ve read an Avengers comic. Oh, I’ve read comics called “Avengers” in that time (and sometimes “New Avengers,” or “Avengers Academy,” or “Uncanny Avengers”) and some of them have been very good. But even the ones I’ve enjoyed have had a different feel, a different flavor. Some of them were close. But it was like drinking a Coke Zero when you really wanted a Coke. Even the best of runs since the infamous “Avengers Disassembled” began in issue #500 have felt… off.

    For a few pages, Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’s Avengers #1 tasted wonderfully familiar.

    The centerpiece of the issue is a summit between Steve Rogers, Tony Stark and Thor about whether it’s time to get the band back together. (Why, exactly, the band is broken up after their victorious finale in last week’s Avengers #690 is not adequately explained, but that’s a minor point.) The three characters most associated with Marvel’s flagship franchise have a fine scene in which they debate whether there should be an Avengers team and, more specifically, why it needed to be the three of them who built it. It’s one of those scenes that feels like a comic book writer is tossing in a meta mea culpa, like he’s recognizing that there’s been something off and giving the reader a promise that there’s a course-correction in the works.

    I have a particular fondness for such scenes.

    Anyone who happens to pick this book up while riding the wave from last week’s little Infinity War movie will see a lot of things that feel familiar as well -- Dr. Strange and the Black Panther are on board, and Thor bemoans the loss of Mjolnir, although that the circumstances of Comic Thor and Movie Thor’s respective losses are very different is never discussed, nor is it necessary.

    This is like the beginning of most Avengers eras, in truth: a threat rears its head, different heroes independently answer the call and you know, by the time it ends, a new roster will be forged. What makes this stronger than many of the other such relaunches over the past few years is that the team itself has a very classic Avengers feel to it. Aside from the aforementioned characters, the cover reveals that longtime members Captain Marvel and She-Hulk will be joining the fold, along with the oddball choice of Ghost Rider. But an oddball choice or two is fine, it’s to be expected, even, as many of those oddball choices eventually make their way to being core members of the team (Luke Cage being a good example). It’s only when the oddballs outnumber the old-school that the book starts to lose its flavor like the proverbial chewing gum on the bedpost.

    McGuinness and Mark Morales, the art team, are doing yeoman’s work here. They aren’t called upon for any radical redesigns, just to tell the story cleanly, and they do it well. Whether it’s a scene of three old friends sitting down for a drink or a page with an enormous cosmic giant striding across a prehistoric savannah, the artwork is brisk and sharp.

    The specifics of the story aren’t necessarily outside the box, but that’s not a bad thing for a creative team trying to capture the old fashioned taste. We have a prologue with a set of Proto-Avengers from the distant past that links to a contemporary world-ending threat, because it’s Wednesday. It’s enough to get you excited, enough to make you anxious to see where the story is going, not quite the sort of thing that makes you fear it’s all about to fall apart again.

    It’s the Avengers comic I wanted to read.

    I really like getting to say that again.

    Blake M. Petit, Avengers Academy dropout, has been pontificating about pop culture online for over a decade. You can follow him online at BlakeMPetit.com and, if you're feeling generous, check out his books on Amazon.
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