Robert DaCosta and his New Avengers are ready for a whole new paradigm. But is the rest of the world ready? Your Major Spoilers review of U.S. Avengers #1 awaits!
Previously in U.S. Avengers: After the largest and most cosmic team of Avengers ever assembled took down a number of cosmic threats and faced the literal end of their universe, Roberto “Sunspot”DaCosta (himself now the Supreme Scientist of A.I.M., thanks to an Avengers mission) gathered Squirrel Girl, Songbird and others to form his own team: Avengers Idea Mechanics, aka The New Avengers. After a few awkward moments with the U.S. government, The New Avengers save the life of the President himself, and have become official superhumans of the red, white and blue.
But… will it work?
A POINTED MESSAGE OF INCLUSION
I have to admit, I was pretty worried about this book. All the advertising, all the stars-n-stripesing and the presence of The Red Hulk, had me worried we were going to get an ironic, hellbent for leather, rah-rah comic at exactly the time when I wanted to read such a thing worst. Foolish Matthew, underestimating Al Ewing. This issue opens with an on-camera interview of Roberto DaCosta, where the mutant immigrant very specifically explains why he came to the United States and what it means to him. The issue features these “confessionals” with all the team members: Iron Patriot, Squirrel Girl, Cannonball, Red Hulk and the girl who was once called Pod, who may now be Enigma. (That part is a bit confusing, especially since Pod’s history is already so convoluted for such a new character.) Intertwined with ‘Berto and company’s discussions of how America is for all of them, regardless of their race, creed, religion, sexuality or mutant status, they’re also facing down an attack by the Secret Empire, whose new base is a helicarrier.
A helicarrier with a volcanic supervillain lair built on top.
It’s pretty awesome.
FOR THE FIRST TIME *EVER*, I KINDA LIKE RED HULK
Ewing also gives a voice to new character General Robert L. Maverick, aka the new Red Hulk, that I really enjoy. He has a lot of the same traits as the previous version (cynicism, distrust of the young heroes of the team and an authoritarian air) but adds a sardonic voice that I rather love, especially in his enjoyment of having Hulk powers one hour per day. On the art side, this issue looks wonderful, with Medina and Vlasco making a kid from Kentucky talking to the camera as interesting as an army of squirrel commandos fighting off drone bombs from a flying volcano fortress…
Okay, ALMOST as interesting. The final pages reveal a new (?) villain in the Marvel Universe, whose visual design is first rate, making me want to read the next issue immediately. I also want to see them dig into Iron Patriot, Pod/Enigma, General Maverick and the other underserved heroes of the team. Ewing’s handle on Marvel history once again pops up, with references to Lila Cheney, Squirrel Girl’s lost avatar, and even Roberto’s love of ‘Magnum P.I.’ as key bits of the narrative in this issue.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BOMBASTIC, BUT LIKEABLE
This story starts the series off with a bang, and while I’m concerned about the combat balance (after an assault by the Avengers in which Cannonball is just transportation for Squirrel Girl, Red Hulk defeats the Secret Empire in one shot) to character work, the likeability of the characters and the message gets me past it. U.S. Avengers #1 is good, much better than the promotional campaign and variant cover gimmicks made it seem, and it combines excellent art with a strong message of inclusion and humanity (and also a cameo by Danielle Cage, the future Captain America, who should be joining any minute now) earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall. It’s a nice balance of characters, it brings the fun factor, and I’d love to see it become the primary Avengers title going forward…