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!
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.
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.