There are a lot of Avengers teams running about in the last ten years or so, but only a very few have been as unconventional as this one is set up to be. Just how wildly will Roberto “Sunspot” DaCosta change the Avengers status quo? Your Major Spoilers review of New Avengers #1 awaits!
Previously in New Avengers: It’s a whole new Marvel Universe, one that has (somehow) survived the madness of Secret Wars. Now, Roberto Da Costa, the Avenger known as Sunspot (and also the Scientist Supreme of A.I.M., now renamed Avengers Idea Mechanics) has launched his own Avengers Initiative, intentionally hand-picking the best and brightest young heroes from the Avengers fold and elsewhere. But, is the old Sunspot ready to be the new Iron Man?
A TEAM I’M PSYCHED FOR
One thing I knew I could count on in this book was Al Ewing, whose work on ‘Mighty Avengers’ the last couple of years has made for the most consistently entertaining Avengers books since about 2008. This issue opens with the team (Songbird, Squirrel Girl, Hulkling, Wiccan, Power Man and White Tiger) already in motion to intercept a strange phenomenon in Paris, France. While they deal with the threat of human transmogrified into crystal-headed anomalies, Roberto has problems of his own, in the form of a visit from SHIELD. It’s a nice device to show off the layout of the new Avengers Island, as Dum-Dum Dugan (now an LMD) arrives to liaise with ‘Berto about his activities. Their interplay is amazing, as Dum-Dum explains that he’s going to be placing a super-spy/mole on the team (“I’m the super-secret traitor on your team”, says Clint “Hawkeye” Barton. “Sorry.”) and that out of respect for Sunspot’s skills and brains, he won’t even try to hide it. It’s a nice moment in a nice issue, with the events in Paris running parallel to an investigation on the island (by Max Brashear, son of the Blue Marvel from ‘Mighty Avengers’, among others) leading to a couple of stunning revelations and a big last-page reveal.
A VILLAIN THAT I’M *NOT* PSYCHED FOR
This issue also reveals the identity of Sunspot’s nemesis as The Maker (known to us old folks as ‘Ultimate Reed Richards’ a designation that pretty much means nothing in the world post-Secret Wars) and his parts of the book are the parts that I like least. Certainly part of that is the fact that, in modern comics, if you’re a genius, you have to be morally compromised and interpersonally a jackass (part of a larger mistrust/devaluing of the idea of intelligence and the role of the intellectual), but also because I hated every aspect of Ultimate FF. Still, if any creator can turn him around, it’s Ewing, who has done more with less in the pages of his previous Marvel works. The art this issue is by Gerardo Sandoval, an angular, anime-influenced style that reminds me of both Leinil Yu and Humberto Ramos, but with a stronger anatomical core than either artist. Interestingly, while it’s not a style that I’d normally be enamored of, it works well in the context of “new and different” Avengers, especially with some of the more bizarre aspects of ‘Avengers World’ and ‘Mighty Avengers’ whose narrative threads it’s continuing…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A PROMISING START
In short? With a writer I like, doing work that I enjoy, and a cast of characters that is actually “all-new” and “all-different”, this book has a lot going for it, even though the art style isn’t quite to my liking. New Avengers #1 is another strong starter for the latest wave of Marvel books, and it’s a title I’ll be adding to my pull list based on sheer charisma and the promise of super-weirdness, earning a very impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’ll be even happier if they actually commit to this new wave of young heroes the way they committed to turning their 70s icons into A-listers a decade ago…