Writer Fred Van Lente has a hankering for dead heroes. First he took the reins from Robert Kirkman, inheriting the lumbering, necrotic beast that will not die, Marvel Zombies. Now Van Lente is back, continuing his love of deceased. That sounds so wrong!

Chaos War – Dead Avengers #1 (1 of 3)
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Inks: Cory Hamscher
Colors Andy Troy
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Somehow I missed the Marvel Memo, but apparently there’s a relatively obscure event transpiring within the pages of Marvel Comics. Knows as the Chaos War, the overview provided in Dead Avengers #1 is kind enough to give a broad-brush overview of what’s taking place.

With A Name Like This, The Guy Was Destined For Badness

The Chaos King, described within the text as a God, is hell-bent on delivering a metaphorical elbow drop to Humanity’s precariously vulnerable cranium. He’s already kicked the crap out of the Dream Dimension, leaving the living in a state of eternal sleep. Some extra shuteye may not sound all that intimidating, but let’s not skim past the clarifying statement; ETERNAL. Not one to rest on his laurels, Mr. Chaos King keeps the damage coming by obliterating the Underworld. Now we have the dead walking the earth. As bad as that sounds, things could be worse.

Avengers Reanimate!

The setting of our story takes place in an arena where evil and tumultuousness conspire on a regular basis. That’s right, Spoilerites…Wall Street. Chaos ensues and the ground is littered with the prone, immobile figures of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In the foreground of the 2-page spread is Steve Rogers, who seems to spend more time on his back than…well, never mind. However, standing amongst the carnage are 6 lively looking Dead Avengers. Our group of expired patriots (or ‘Expats’ from Death) find themselves hoisted unceremoniously back to a world that resembles the one they remember from life.

The Vision, Yellowjacket (Rita DeMara), Deathcry, Doctor Druid, Swordsman and Mar-Vell (formerly Captain Mar-Vell) each begin to face the memories of their past while confronting a city full of generic creatures attacking everyday citizens. Well, as ‘everyday’ as dead people can be considered.

Artist Tom Grummett’s pencils are very solid for about 80% of the book. He uses splash pages and large panels throughout this first issue, making for a relatively quick read. Sometimes his backgrounds and anatomical detail lack the fine line work that appears elsewhere throughout the book. Despite some of these artistic inconsistencies, the overall aesthetic of the book is pleasing to the eye.

Van Lente seems to be enjoying the benefits of creative latitude that come from using secondary and tertiary characters with inconsistent continuity. For example, Doctor Druid starred in a 4-issue mini-series in the mid ‘90s, written by Warren Ellis. Ellis deconstructed Doctor Druid, all the while, making a mockery of the characters inglorious past portrayals. Each of these 6 Dead Avengers has the potential to be manipulated so that Van Lente’s story can be best served.

The final page reveal gives us a glimpse of what appears to be Chief Bad Guy for the mini-series. In the grand tradition of Major Spoilers, I won’t tell you who it is (wait, I have that backwards, don’t I?) but let me tell you, things look pretty GRIM.

Bottom Line: If Loving The Dead Is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right!

Issue #1 is an admirable effort and showcases the talents of its creative team. Both Van Lente and Grummett have strong comic book chops, and Dead Avengers looks to be anything but DOA. Even if you’re like me, and have no attachment to the ongoing Chaos War event storyline, this book is still worthy of your attention. Dead Avengers #1 earns 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Mike McLarty

Mike McLarty

A San Diego native, Mike has comics in his blood and has attended the San Diego Comic Con every year since 1982. His comic interests are as varied as his crimes against humanity, but he tends to lean heavily towards things rooted in dystopian themes. His favorite comic series is Warren Ellis’ and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. Spider Jerusalem is the best character ever devised. Mike realizes those statements will alienate a good portion of his potential audience, but those are the facts. You are unlikely to find a single collector with a better Transmetropolitan art portfolio than the one he has in his possession. He is an Assistant Editor for the upcoming Transmetropolitan Charity Book.

He also occasionally freelances for various other comics websites, which he promotes through his homepage (www.comickarma.com), Twitter and other inherently intrusive forms of social media. Mike firmly believes that the best writers come from the UK. This could be because he’s of Irish descent; not so much based on physical geography as the fact that the Irish like to drink heavily.

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  1. December 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm — Reply

    My reservations with this issue came with the art of Tom Grummett, who invariably makes all the characters look like pre-teens.

    Plus: Deathcry still blows.

    The Swordsman, however, was pretty damned impressive, and I like Marv in this issue.

    • December 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm — Reply

      Deathcry, as a character, seems beyond redemption. I agree with your assertion that she in fact, blows.

      Swordsman has more depth to him than I ever would have expected. Van Lente in fact, doesn’t suck.

  2. Slappy
    December 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm — Reply

    A little necrophilia now and then is a good thing.
    Pyro-bestial-craniel-necrophelia is just plain out of this world.

  3. Smoothesuede
    December 7, 2010 at 7:26 am — Reply

    I’ve been following Chaos War and so far this is the only book that’s really been worth the money. It’s unfortunate the tie-ins to events are typically better than the events themselves these days.

    • December 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm — Reply

      I know what you mean, Smoothe. Totally felt that way with Shadowland.

  4. AJ
    December 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm — Reply

    Loved this comic to the point where I’m upset that it’s only a 3-issue mini. Mostly I’m jazzed to see the real Vision back on his feet, however temporarily. With some great prickly dialog between the team and some much-needed follow up to the Vision’s ignoble death, it’s a must-buy for old time Avengers fans.

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