I am a big Avengers guy. I have been ever since I started reading comics. My first readings of the team were the Marvel Masterworks collection of the first volume of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Avengers. From there, I read the Marvel Adventures Avengers book (I was young, remember), and, some time after that, I moved on to Brian Michael Bendis‘s New Avengers around the time the *sigh* ‘original’ Civil War story kicked into gear.
They’ve been one of my two favorite teams ever since. The Thunderbolts are at the top for me, but the Avengers follow closely behind. A lot of my favorite Marvel heroes, Luke Cage, Bucky Barnes, Hawkeye, Carol Danvers, Spider Woman, Iron Fist, were either on the team at that point or joined up in the year or two following Civil War. I stuck with Bendis’ New Avengers and Avengers book all the way through the Heroic Age and was only ever really disappointed with the Avengers vs. X-Men tie-ins because that story is awful.
I stuck with the Avengers through the Jonathan Hickman days, though I did splinter off to the Avengers World title when it started, which was primarily written by Nick Spencer. I liked Hickman and Spencer’s work quite a bit, but it never quite reached the level of enjoyment I got from Bendis’s books.
Al Ewing did manage to reach that level and even exceed it at times with his Mighty Avengers and Captain America and the Mighty Avengers books. I loved those series, and, when he launched New Avengers and Ultimates with All-New, All-Different Marvel, I dug those, too. Couldn’t quite get on board with U.S.Avengers, though, even though it is functionally a continuation of New Avengers.
Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers really did not appeal to me in the slightest, despite the lineup and premise of the book. That was really disappointing considering how much I loved Remender’s work on Thunderbolts, Uncanny X-Force, and Venom. Gerry Duggan couldn’t sell it to me, either, especially with the addition of freaking Deadpool, aka Marvel’s worst character. Now, with Jim Zub in the writer’s chair and the subtraction of Deadpool, I am truly enjoying Uncanny Avengers for the first time since its creation.
Mark Waid’s All-New, All-Different Avengers was a darling of mine, too, until it split off into Champions and Avengers. I followed the Champions for a good bit and was utterly charmed by that book, but Avengers didn’t hit the sweet spot for me. We’ll get into why in a second.
There was the David F. Walker-written, Hawkeye-led, Occupy Avengers, which ended not too long ago. That book was severely under-advertised and underrated. It was brilliant and deserved a bigger audience than it ever received.
Anyway, I decided to give Mark Waid and Mike del Mundo’s Avengers another try this week. I wish I could say I was sold on the book again.
It features Earth’s Mightiest Heroes trying to pick up the pieces in the shadow of Secret Empire and the fall of Parker Industries. They are without a headquarters, and the team pairs off to take stock of everything Sam Wilson discusses leadership with Thor, Vision discusses immortality with Hercules, and Spider-Man tries to figure out why the Wasp really dislikes him.
This isn’t a bad premise for a “breather” issue between Secret Empire and the upcoming crossover with Champions. It lets you know where the team is at, and it puts things in perspective for where the team’s heads are at.
It’s a bit slow, and the pacing can drag. There’s nothing really all that exciting going on in the background to provide excitement or levity for the pontifications of our heroes. That’s a problem, but it wouldn’t be a book killer. These characters are likable. Thor, Hercules, and Wasp are charming. The Vision is interesting. Sam is the dedicated yet doubting leader. And Spider-Man is, well, Spider-Man. He almost always has a quip and a grin for the reader.
If the discussions at hand were just a bit more fresh, nuanced, and interesting, it might have saved the comic. However, they don’t really solve anything that couldn’t have been covered in the prelude or epilogue to a more action-packed issue.
Again, this wouldn’t kill the comic if it weren’t for another problem. I have the same problem with this issue as the first couple of issues of this title which drove me away.
If you’ve paid attention to my reviews, I tend to focus upon the story and characters a lot more than the art. Plot discussions tend to run on for far more paragraphs than my discussion of the art.
That’s because I’m a student of writing (just got my diploma from the University of West Georgia, woo!), and I can dissect a story far better than a painting. I do have artistic tastes, and I can tell you when something works for me. I can decently explain why this is or isn’t the case, I feel, but I’m not an art student.
What I’m waffling about here is that I cannot get behind Mike del Mundo’s art for the Avengers.
I actually really don’t like it. Now, art is generally considered more subjective than writing, so that’s why I’m going to tell you why his style does not work at all for this book.
The Avengers should, generally, be a headlining title for Marvel, especially after 2012. It usually is, but the art of this books doesn’t scream “headlining title for Marvel comics.” It feels more appropriate for a surreal niche title. Like, if there were a Marvel Knights or MAX Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, or Man-Thing comic book, this would feel appropriate. It’s too fluid, amorphous, and surrealist for the Avengers.
This is not me saying that Mike del Mundo is bad or untalented. He’s extremely talented, and I would greatly enjoy his art in a different context. I just can’t get behind it here. It makes it hard to parcel out what is going on a lot of the time, and it feels like the Avengers exist in a totally different plane of existence.
The coloring, also by del Mundo as well as Marco D’Alfonso, makes the situation worse with odd, off-beat palette choices and weird background shades that are trying to cover up a lack of detail.
Again, I’m not saying these people are untalented. They’re great artists, but this book just doesn’t come together like an Avengers comic should.
I also reviewed Justice League today, and, I’m sad to say, they win this week in terms of the big teams of the Big Two. The art in that comic is far more fitting of the team it depicts, and the story is paced far better.
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this comic. The slow pacing is problem enough, but the art is a killer. Give this one a pass, and try again next month.
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