The final punches haven’t even been thrown for Civil War II but Marvel has already jumped started their ‘Marvel Now!’ relaunch. This latest relaunch started with Mark Waid’s Champions featuring the youngest members of the Avengers, Ms. Marvel, Nova and Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, leaving the team to form their own. Now with the team split in two Mark Waid is bringing the Avengers back with a roster made up of Captain America (Sam Wilson), Thor, Hercules, Vision, Wasp and Spider-Man (Peter Parker). Will this latest Avengers roster bring the unity that the Marvel Universe needs? Let’s find out with The Avengers #1.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Colorists: Mike Del Mundo and Marco D’alfonso
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Captain America, Thor, Wasp and Hercules team-up to fight Hoarfen the Frost-Wolf in the middle of Central Park. Though Hoarfen has been weakened by just trying to get to Earth he still puts up a tough fight for the team. Wasp suggests she goes small and attack him from within but Captain America has another plan.
Captain America throws his shield at Hercules so he can use it. After catching the shield Hercules holds it up for Thor to throw Mjolnir against it. Mjolnir deflects off the shield and into Hoarfen, knocking the Frost-Wolf out.
Captain America thanks Hercules for his help and invites him to join the Avengers since they have some spots open after Ms. Marvel, Nova and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) left the team. Hercules happily accepts Captain America’s offer.
Wasp reminds the team that they have something they were invited to attend. Thor says they first have to send Hoarfen back to his realm.
Inside Parker Industries’ New York headquarters (the former Baxter Building) the team comments on how they were expecting an ambush. Peter Parker welcomes the Avengers and has his assistant, Ms. Beachum, bring up the rising table and chairs, one of which almost hits Wasp. Peter announces his offer to fund the Avengers operations.
The Avengers stand silently staring at Peter, making him even more nervous. Trying to get on the team’s good side Peter shows off the new Quinjet he built for the team. He continues the tour by showing the team all the different rooms he has set-up for them to use including Ms. Beachum, who will act as their new assistant.
Wasp grabs Peter and tells him they already have an assistant and he won’t replace Jarvis. Peter nervously says he wasn’t trying to replace Jarvis. He then asks Wasp where Jarvis is.
Over at Avengers Hanger, Jarvis is alone cleaning up the headquarters after Tony Stark lost the deed to the place. He is disappointed the team didn’t come help him clean up after they promised him they do so.
Back at Parker Industries NYC headquarters, Wasp remembers that Peter is friends with Spider-Man. Peter nervously say that Spider-Man works as his bodyguard and this was actually his idea. Peter explains that Spider-Man feels bad about his role in Civil War and wants to help out the Avengers in order to begin the hero community’s healing process.
Peter then shows the team the 360 view of the place just in time for Hercules to spot a huge explosion in the middle of the city. The team heads out to investigate the explosion. Peter assigns Ms. Beachum some busy work to do, which gives him the chance to change into Spider-Man.
On the streets Kang attacks and orders Vision to hand over a child he took. Vision counterattacks and tells Kang he isn’t going to say anything. Frustrated by Vision, Kan grabs him and decides to throw him into the past were he can’t get power from the sun. Before Kang can do this he is hit by a thunderbolt from Thor. This attack ends up bringing out the Scarlet Centurion (who is another, younger version of Kang).
As the Avengers fight Kang and Scarlet Centurion, Wasp asks Vision why Kang attacked him. Vision says they will talk about it later. Both Kang and Scarlet Centurion say the other one is the Avengers enemy.
Spider-Man suddenly appears and kicks Kang in the face, much to Wasp’s displeasure.
As the Avengers continue to fight Kang and Scarlet Centurion, Captain America asks Vision why Kang attacked him originally. Before Vision can give any real answer Kang gets frustrated with the fight and ages one of the nearby buildings, causing everyone inside to fall. The Avengers quickly break away from the fight to save all the civilians.
Scarlet Centurion uses this distraction to grab Vision and slam him against the ground, breaking Vision’s head open. Scarlet Centurion tries to find the information he and Kang are looking for from Vision’s database. As he does this Kang realizes, as Scarlet Centurion’s future version, that Vision doesn’t have the information in his current database, which Vision confirms.
Kang and Scarlet Centurion decide to regroup and plan their next move.
The Avengers, after making sure the civilians are safe, attend to Vision. They all decide to regroup at Parker Industries.
At Parker Industries NYC headquarters while Wasp fixes Vision the other Avengers comment on how impressive a set-up Peter made for them. As Wasp decides to fix Vision from the inside Spider-Man says he impressed with her skills. Thor comments that Spider-Man is the only person she has seen to get on Wasp’s nerves.
Captain America asks Wasp for an update and she regrows after fixing Vision back to how he was.
Now fully fixed, Vision explains to the Avengers that since their last encounter with Kang that the villain has maintained a ‘firewall’ that has created several time paradoxes. He goes on to say that Kang has used this to gain the power to disrupt time without leaving a scar.
Captain America thinks this means that Kang is declaring war against the Avengers. Vision correct Captain America by admitting he was the one that declared war on Kang first, much to the Avengers shock.
Vision explains that after their last encounter when Kang turned Vision into a weapon activated by anger. He ended up using his rage to end Kang once and for all so he decided to kidnap an infant Kang so he would never become a villain.
Thor yells at Vision for messing with the time-stream. Vision admits it was a risk but he believed it was a risk worth taking. What he didn’t realize was the details of Kang’s time paradoxes.
Captain America asks if Vision was ever planning on telling them this information. Vision says he wasn’t. Captain America then asks about the baby’s location. Vision informs the team that he off-loaded the information on the baby’s location a long time ago in storage.
Elsewhere Kang and Scarlet Centurion are looking through the time-stream to see if they can find out where Vision put the baby version of themselves. As they look through Vision’s recent history they find the crystal sphere vision was storing important information on. Kang reaches through time and retrieves the sphere.
After grabbing the sphere both Kang and Scarlet Centurion discover the baby’s location. Before going after their baby version they decide to get their revenge on the Avengers first. They both pool their powers together to visit any timeline they want.
Back at Parker Industries, Captain America complains about what Vision said and how the Avengers are down six members. Spider-Man thinks that means Captain America believes he is part of the Avengers. Captain America corrects him by saying Redwing is the sixth member of the Avengers. Redwing uses his sonic canons on Spider-Man to show why he is an Avengers member and not just Captain America’s sidekick.
Captain America decides to officially extend Spider-Man an offer to join the Avengers. Spider-Man says he will think about it.
Inside the tower, Hercules decides to go home for the night. As they say their goodbyes Captain America suddenly gets the chills.
In different parts of time it is shown that Kang and Scarlet Centurion are visiting the Avengers at different times in their lives, before they even became superheroes. They attack the younger versions of the Avengers all at the same time, annihilating them from the time-stream.
In the present all of the Avengers begin disappearing from time. End of issue.
The Good: Unlike the previous version of the Avengers during the All-New, All-Different Marvel-era this feels like a real A-team instead of the Young Avengers. Mark Waid accomplishes this by quickly establishing a back-to-basics approach to assembling the team. Each member of the team fills in a different role from power and skill set that a real Avengers needs. And with so many characters off the table, the team we got in Avengers #1 does feel like a collection of Marvel’s best.
One of Mark Waid’s greatest strengths is his understanding of characters, especially those with a long history, and translating that to deliver strong dialogue. Avengers #1 is no different as he waste no time in establishing each characters voice and what each characters relationship is with their teammate. Even if you aren’t familiar with a certain character’s history Waid writes each of them in a way you don’t have to.
It helps that he opens the issue up with the Avengers already in action. By starting the issue with an action sequence we quickly got an understanding of how they will work together and their current state of mind. And while Hercules isn’t the Hulk, I enjoyed how Waid used Hercules search to be integrated into the modern era as the reason why he accepted the Avengers offer to join the team. This reasoning takes one of the most interesting parts of Hercules’ recent comic series, where he was looking to re-establish himself in the modern era, to give the character a reason why he would join the Avengers.
Similarly, I enjoyed the backstory Waid gave us for Kang’s latest attack. Connecting Kang to the recent history with Vision gives the latter gives a reason for why the latter would rejoin the Avengers. It also reminds readers of what kind of character Vision is as he does what he believes is the most logical move, even in a rage induced state.
This move by Vision also nicely brings the complex nature of Kang’s existence to the current Marvel Universe following Secret Wars. As complex as Kang’s history is Waid does a good job streamline it without losing the reader, even the recent history. This in turn nicely sets up why Kang would team-up with his past self, Scarlet Centurion, and launch his own attack on past versions of the current Avengers.
The look into the next year in Avengers stories was a nice teaser to keep readers around. I particularly like the first three teases, especially the one with Doctor Doom. Hopefully all these stories are able to stay in this series and aren’t just spun off to other comic books.
The Bad: Avengers #1 is a good example of all the fears that Spider-Man fans have had with Peter Parker’s turn to an accomplished billionaire running his own company. Waid does a good job when writing Spider-Man, which is no surprise given his previous history writing Amazing Spider-Man. Where Waid does trip over is how he writes Peter as nothing more than Tony Stark 2.0. This is a part of the character that Dan Slott has done well not fully doing but Waid does not. There is nothing about this version of the character that does not sound like Tony Stark if the Avengers didn’t know he was Iron Man. If this is how Waid is going to write Peter I hope that we see him mostly as Spider-Man rather than out of costume.
Another character that does not come off well is Wasp. I do not know much about this version of Wasp but I can honestly say that I just found her annoying. As still a relatively new character I did not understand her entitled attitude as if she has been around just as long as everyone else on the team. More than anything else, I just wished that Thor would strike her with a thunderbolt rather than see her speak more. Waid is going to have to do some serious character development because as of now Wasp is the least interesting character on the team.
And while I did like the first three teasers that Waid gave us following the end of the main story I did not like the last one. With Marvel moving into a new era I was hoping that it would mean we would be going away from the boring hero vs hero storytelling cycle the company has fallen into. Seeing the Avengers fighting the Champions does nothing to get me interested in either team. Instead it kills my interest in picking up both comics since I know that Marvel isn’t interested in building them as superhero teams. Instead they are just interested in finding new superhero teams to pit against the Avengers.
Mike Del Mundo is not the first artist that comes to mind when I think about drawing the Avengers and this issues shows why. Because while he does well enough in the weirder moments like when Thor launches a surprise attack on Kang and when Vision flashes back to the past everything else about the issue does not look good. With most of this issue being about the interactions between the Avengers the artwork just drops the ball. Mundo’s characters that aren’t wearing full masks look awful and take away from what each character is saying. In the end Mundo’s art style would be much more at home in a title like Doctor Strange where he can explore the weirder side of Marvel rather than one of the premiere superhero teams.
Overall: Avengers #1 is not a home run. It is instead a close double that an umpire calls safe after looking at the replay. Mark Waid does a good job with executing the story involving Kang’s latest attack on The Avengers. Incorporating Vision so closely to this latest attack gave both sides of the story a personal stake in what is going on. It’s just unfortunate that Waid stumbles on how he decides to characterize a few members of the Avengers. These mistakes are only further hurt by Mike Del Mundo’s artwork, which ends up detracting from the story, especially in the dialogue heavy scenes.