Or – “I Think This Is Volume Four, But I’m Not Sure It Matters…”

From the ashes of the New Avengers comes…  the old Avengers!  Or at least a reasonable approximation of their membership.  With the Green Goblin replaced by the Super-Soldier, the time has come from heroes to step out of the shadows, free of the fear of government interference and do their Avengery thing in broad daylight.  Two questions remain, though:  What is Steve Rogers’ ultimate goal and WHO will he choose to populate the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?

Avengers #1
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: John Romita JR.
INKS: Klaus Janson
COLORS: Dean White
LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit
PUBLISHED BY: Marvel Comics

Previously, on The Avengers:  It was a dark day when the treachery of Loki caused his half-brother Thor to team up with the greatest heroes that the nascent Marvel Universe had to offer.  Soon after, the Hulk left the team, Captain America joined, and the world’s shiftiest roster began to form the world’s greatest super-team.  The nucleus of the Avengers seemed to solidify around the leadership of Captain America, the resources and technology of Iron Man, and the raw power of Thor.  Unfortunately, these three heroes have had their differences in recent years (and I believe each of them spent some time dead, for tax purposes) leaving the Avengers without a center.  After the events of Siege, Steve Rogers has returned to duty, although not as Captain America, and has been given the authority to run things his way.  With roughly eleventy million active Avengers to choose from, whom will the super-soldier choose to ramrod his new squad?  (My suggestion of 3-D Man, Johnny Blaze, Venus, The Texas Twister, The Smithville Thunderbolt, Juggernaut, Captain Ultra and Phoenix was voted down, by the way.)

The time is nebulous, but some date in the future.  The place is a rainy wasteland, a scene of great destruction.  A man familiar to most long-time Marvel fans kneels in defeat, as the shadowy forms of his attackers move closer.  “I am Immortus, MASTER OF TIME!” he screams.  “And for what you’ve dong here today…  I WILL WATCH YOU DIE!”  His rant is cut short by a bolt from the blue, and a bored group of teenagers in quasi-Avengers garb stand watching.  Smash cut to the present day, as the Steve Rogers gives his impassioned recruitment speech to someone.  I love JR Jr’s art here, with Steve’s expression showing sheer determination and the clear expectation that he has a plan to fix this.  Bendis then gives us one of his patented “Page full of heads responding to an off-panel questioner” sequences, featuring a number of Avengers (War Machine, Black Widow, Justice, Spider-Man, Hulkling, Wolverine, Captain America IX, thor, Tigra, Patriot, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Mockingbird, Dr. Strange, teen girl Hawkeye, Speed, Stature, Wiccan, The Vision, Spider-Woman, grown man Hawkeye, The Wasp and the Beast) responding to his question.  Cap meets some resistance, as Wonder Man insists that the problems that have besieged the the superhero community are BECAUSE of the Avengers (specifically the core three Avengers.)  Steve insists that he’s wrong, but as a faithful reader, there’s a lot of truth in what Simon has to say…

A short time later, we see Steve with his assembled Avengers roster, and the master of motivation explains to each of them what it is that they bring to his round table.  The real show here are the side conversations, as Spider-Woman and Wolverine discuss whether they belong here, Iron Man questions whether he belongs here, and Hawkeye and Spider-Man talk about identities.  “Yesterday, your were Ronin, today you’re Hawkeye,” says a confused Spidey, and Hawk smiles in confirmation, asking if he needs a proclamation.  When Spidey says yes, Clint awesomes back, “Today… I am Hawkeye.”  Heh.  The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Kang, who cries out that he has brought a warning…  before Thor attacks and knocks him halfway across the island of Manhattan.  Kang warns them all that he’s here not as an enemy, but as the only person who can help them to offset a horrible catastrophe involving the Avengers’ children.  (“Spidey! It’s your KIDS, Spidey!”)  Kang exits, stage yesterday, and the team wonders how they’re going to get to the future to save it.  Wolverine reveals that he knows who will help, as we cut forward to see Kang arriving home and addressing his mysterious master.  The master of the future (who I will tell you is actually a founding Avenger himself) swears that he’s going to prove to the Avengers that he is the smartest one there is…

The issue ends with a long text piece called “The Oral History of the Avengers” which kind of undermines my goodwill for the actual story with a lot of glib dialogue that kind of works against the mystique of the Avengers (and makes some of the members sounds really goofy in so doing) but overall I’m not unhappy with this issue.  It addresses the question of how Steve and Tony will work again, it answers the question of what it’s like to work with Thor, it answers the question of Hawkeye’s change in raiment, and whether all the Avengers will be able to get along.  There are some flaws, in that most of these question are answered in a flippant and offhand fashion, but at least we’re seeing some progression and not an issue full of mysteries that have to be unraveled and known characters behaving in odd ways.  It’s everything that I like about Bendis:  strong dialogue that mostly works, an interesting menace/quest/macguffin, and an array of personalities that will make the trip interesting.  Romita’s art has been the subject of skepticism by many Spoilerites, but I have to say I enjoy it, and that his characters are well-rendered and his evil dystopian future evil, dystopian and futurey.  I’m still wary of a tendency by Marvel (and Bendis) to put so much energy into the setup that the denouement is disappointing, but based entirely on it’s own merits, this is a good’n.  Avengers #1 starts off the new franchise in a good way, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s not the lineup I would have gone with, but it’s a good one nonetheless…

Rating: ★★★½☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Week:  Steve’s Avengers are Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Captain America and a player whose identity is not shown in this issue… Given 8 chairs to fill, what would be your dream Avengers lineup and why?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Brother129
    May 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm — Reply

    1. Captain America
    2. Iron Man
    3. Thor
    4. Black Panther
    5. She-Hulk
    6. Vision
    7. Photon (Captain Marvel)
    8. Hawkeye

  2. Philg
    May 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm — Reply

    1. Wolverine
    2. Wolverine (AoA)
    3. Wolverine (bone claws)
    4. Wolverine (Classic brown)
    5. Cap A
    6. Iron Man
    7. Spider-Man
    8. Morph

    a)Because Wolverine needs more comic-book exposure
    b)Morph because then he could turn into a fifth Wolverine.

  3. Astrodinosaurus
    May 20, 2010 at 9:52 pm — Reply

    Captain A
    Hank Pym
    Ms Marvel
    The Thing

    Just imagine a conversation between McCoy And Grimm…GOLD!
    One thing I always wanted to see though is the Marvel nerd-squad

    …Stark would be their Torq

    • Astrodinosaurus
      May 20, 2010 at 9:56 pm — Reply

      Actually Brother has a point, swap Ms Marvel for She-Hulk.

  4. Armaan
    May 20, 2010 at 10:34 pm — Reply

    I think sometimes, when you haven’t been with comics from the very beginning, the team that you’re most fond of is the team that was there when you first got into the series. When I first got into the JLA, it was the powerful eight, and those will always be my favorite characters. I don’t even like Hal and Barry as much as I like Kyle and Wally.
    When I came across the avengers… Lemme see. My top eight?
    Captain America(either one this time, though, because I actually like the idea of a legacy being passed on. And Bucky’s still got a ways to go), Spiderman(because I think he belongs in a team), Scarlet Witch(because she was awesome and I’m really, really, really curious as to what she’s up to… I can’t believe she’s been written into obscurity. I mean, the darkness of the Marvel U started with HER), Hawkeye(Avengers mean Hawkeye. Period), Hank and Janet Pym(I know one of them is dead and the other has had his odder moments, but I do think who they both are, at their best, was a big part of what the avengers spirit felt like), Thor(because you need a heavy hitter), and The Vision. I liked him. The original Vision.

  5. Armaan
    May 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm — Reply

    I’d’ve put Thing in there, but he’s already on another team. I don’t care WHICH team he’s on, I want to see him on one, interacting with other heroes outside his family. It doesn’t matter if he’s not on a high profile team – and the same goes for Luke Cage.

  6. MaximusRift
    May 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm — Reply

    1…8) Not Wolverine or Deadpool or Punisher or anybody that reminds me of the ’90 ;p


    1) Cap. America (Bucky Cap) : Though I love Steve; I love the idea that the mantle can be passed without killing the original more ;)
    2) Hsnk Pym : Not Wasp II, Not Ant-Man, Not Yellow Jacket. Just Hank Pym in a jumpsuit with pockets. Why? Because that is the most awesome Hank Pym of them all. IMHO, he’s the only superhero that benefits from not wearing a costume.
    3) Thor : I don’t know why, but I feel that the flagship team should always have the most powerful guy/gal around of a reasonable understudy of said character.
    4) She Hulk : To me, she is Marvel’s premier female character and deserves more of the spotlight.
    5) Storm : I’ve always felt Storm was one better choices for the X-Member that becomes an Avenger and a public figure.
    6) Spider-Man : Why do I like Spidey as an Avenger? Because he deserves it. Don’t give me that “everyman” bull.
    7) Cloud 9 : I feel that someone from the Initiative should “graduate” to Avenger so the whole book isn’t forgotten in 2 years and I liked her best.
    8) Hellcat : Only if I get the same characterization she got for Marvel Divas. I’d also like to see her learn some magic too.

    This list might change due to memory loss ;p

  7. Slappy
    May 20, 2010 at 11:43 pm — Reply

    1. Hank Pym (When he isn’t getting dumped on but is the dumper)
    2. Bucky Cap (Digging the student surpasses the teacher thing)
    3. War Machine or a Non-Tony Iron Man
    4. Valkyrie (Who needs Thor?)
    5. Brother Voodoo (Need a Mystic)
    6. Beast devolved a little. At least give him fingers again.
    7. Crystal (Loves me an Inhuman)
    8. Oracle (of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard)

  8. Hafwit
    May 21, 2010 at 7:48 am — Reply

    1)Captain America (You just gotta have that ultra-iconic Captain Flag).
    2)Hercules (You need a brick, so why not have a fun brick?)
    3)Storm (I’ve been fond of the character since the Claremont/Byrne days, and she has cool and visual powers).
    4)Shaman (I like super-mystics, and Shaman from Alpha Flight is a bit different than the others I can think of)
    5)Iron Man (or a similar character. Basically someone who can wear sleek power armor as well as do the ”Reed Richards, pipe in mouth, does techno-babble exposition”-thing)
    6)Spider-man (I find that I like him a lot better as part of a team).
    7)Elsa Bloodstone (As she appears in NextWave).
    8)Hawkeye (As Armaan said, Avengers mean Hawkeye).

  9. Brian G.
    May 21, 2010 at 8:26 am — Reply

    Since I’m not an Avengers reader (or Marvel for that). I’d choose these characters because it would help me understand the people i know/care about more.

    1. Wolverine
    2. Spiderman
    3. Ironman
    4. Hulk
    5. Captain America
    6. Thor
    7. Invisible Woman
    8. Black Widow

  10. Mark
    May 21, 2010 at 9:39 am — Reply

    1. Cap America (Steve Rogers, please)
    2. Hawkeye
    3. Iron Man
    4. Vision (first version)
    5. Scarlet Witch
    6. Sub-Mariner (a heavy hitter, but not as uber-powerful as Thor)
    7. Iceman (since they seem to want an X-man on the team)
    8. Iron Fist

  11. Brother129
    May 21, 2010 at 10:00 am — Reply

    I think what is really interesting/funny is that now we have four Avengers books (five if you count the Young Avengers limited) and people still can’t find a version of their favorite team out there. I do hope that over time the writers on the different Avengers books will temper their own inner fanboy crushes and give nods to classic and/or fan faves who have heeded the call to assemble…

  12. Brian
    May 21, 2010 at 10:10 am — Reply

    1. Captain America
    2. Iron Man
    3. Thor

    The core three, a leader, a controler and a defender.

    So lets add a striker:

    4. Hawkeye

    And another defender:

    5. She-Hulk.

    Here are two positions that are members, but not the field members:

    6. Hank Pym – The Avengers version of Forge or Reed Richards. Tony doesn’t like sharing his toys and Hank is the Scientist Supreme. (Does that make Dazzler the Singer Supreme?)
    7. Nick Fury – Unlike Steve, Nick has been ACTIVE since WW2. So 50+ years of experience makes me think he’s the leader of the Avengers

    8. Vision – My first Avengers comic was West Coast Avengers. This also explains Hawkeye.

    I’d really say the eigth member is a wild card. Have it be the specialist for the mission.

  13. the_isolator
    May 21, 2010 at 10:34 am — Reply

    1. Hank Pym – despite all his somewhat less than heroic moments he is an amazing character when written well.
    2. Quicksilver
    3. Scarlet Witch
    4. Hawkeye
    5. Hercules
    6. Spider-Man
    7. She-Hulk
    8. The Wasp

    Essentially Dan Slott’s recent Mighty Avengers was the closest I got to my dream line-up. Shame US Agent had to be there though, he’s got to be frontrunner for most annoying Avenger of all time.

  14. May 21, 2010 at 8:23 pm — Reply

    1. Iron Man
    2. Cap (Steve)
    3. Thor
    4. Quicksilver
    5. Scarlet Witch
    6. Hank Pym
    7. Hawkeye
    8. Black Widow

  15. Kevin
    May 22, 2010 at 12:48 am — Reply

    1) Captain America (Steve)
    2) Iron Man
    3) Thor
    4) Spider-Woman (Jessica)
    5) Luke Cage
    6) Ms. Marvel (Carol)
    7) Iron Fist
    8) Invisible Woman

  16. May 22, 2010 at 11:06 am — Reply

    This story ties in with the “Next Avengers” animated movie. (that’s who those kids are) My son likes it, but I thought it was just okay. It’s worth a look for anyone reading the Avengers though.

    • Astrodinosaurus
      May 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm — Reply

      I remember seeing a trailer for that but I wonder if we are supposed to take that movie now as “possible future canon” and this builds upon that story. Or if this is waaay different and they are just borrowing the characters for a different portrayal.

      Cause these kids seemed a bit “off” in the book.

  17. Umbra
    May 24, 2010 at 7:44 pm — Reply

    1. Captain Britain
    2. Pete Wisdom
    3. Blade
    4. Spitfire
    5. Black Knight
    6. Excalibur
    7. Gloriana
    8. Kitty Pryde

    Oh wait, i made MI-13 again…I miss that book =/

  18. Alvarlux
    May 26, 2010 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    Damn this is a lot harder then i expected it to be… I keep finding myself wanting to pull in pairs or parts of other groups… So I’ll just say they can have whoever they want on the Avengers as long as they keep the Young Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy the same.

    Though the idea of a rotating roster would be cool… keep the core cap, iron man, thor, hawkeye, spiderman and then have 3 mission specific guys to keep things fresh… or even replace a core guy for an issue… *shrug* Avengers should be a place where you learn to love the characters and not just the current arc.

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