“And there came a day, unlike any other, when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes found themselves united against a common threat!” Your Major Spoilers review of Avengers #1 awaits!
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: May 2, 2018
Previously in The Avengers: “Thor Odinson. Steve Rogers. Tony Stark. The Big Three of the Avengers are reunited at last! And just in time to save the world from total annihilation at the hands of their most powerful enemies yet: the 2000-foot-tall space gods known as Celestials. Behold the coming of the Final Host. Who will answer the call to assemble for a wild new era of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Hint: one of them has a flaming skull for a head. And what strange, world-shaking connection exists between the Final Host and Odin’s ancient band of Prehistoric Avengers?”
ALL ABOUT THE “BIG THREE”
This issue actually begins one million years ago, with the proto-Avengers team that has been at the center of the Marvel Legacy branding, featuring Odin, an Iron Fist, a Ghost Rider, a Star Brand and more. Aside from the fact that the time-frame feels really suspect (we know Odin is immortal, but this feels arbitrary and stretches credulity) and that “Odin and Phoenix are in love” plot that I really hate, this part is pretty strong, setting up an earlier visit by the Celestials to Earth, and promising to be the doom of the team.
Cut to the future, in a tavern, as Thor, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers meet to have a drink and talk about the big changes in their lives since they were last Avengers. Tony actually refers to them as “Hydra Cap, Coma Tony and Unworthy Thor”, a moment of meta that I don’t like, and the trio has a conversation that feels a little too pointed and obvious about how they are the only ones who can restore The Avengers to prominence. An emergency calls them into action, while Black Panther and Doctor Strange are on a separate mission to the center of the Earth. (The story actually calls out that Black Panther shouldn’t be able to survive the conditions, then shrugs and moves on.) We also see what Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters and Robbie “Ghost Rider” Reyes are up to, and round out our team with a distress call from Captain Marvel, who has detected incoming objects to Earth: The bodies of The Celestials!
AND THE “NEW GUY BEATS UP TOUGHEST OLD GUY” TROPE
With the reveal that The Celestials have been beaten down by a mysterious new threat, my wavering on this issue fell squarely on the side of “Not My Thing.” There’s a lot of potential here, but Aaron’s script doesn’t quite nail the balance of micro-scale Three-Guys-In-A-Bar to macro-scale Giant Cosmic Threat to my taste, and while I like parts of the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers setups, it’s all about the “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” without the substance that would make it really work. The art is attractive enough, with all the hallmarks of a McGuinness book (a thick-limbed Hulkish Star Brand, long-necked willowy women (which feels odd with Captain Marvel and Jennifer, I might add) and some nice action sequences that don’t have much in the way of backgrounds…
BOTTOM LINE: NOT FEELIN’ IT YET
In short, this is a book with a lot of interesting parts that just haven’t been quite put in place yet, which makes it feel chaotic and unfocused. Putting the return of the sorta-kinda founders in the forefront actually undermines the threat of something powerful enough to kill Celestials (even if I understand that they are the hook for this iteration of the team), and the other members of the cast are under-served as well. Avengers #1 doesn’t feel like a successful single chapter of comics, feeling like a teaser or a number zero issue, but still assembles an interesting array of characters under a creative team that I feel has potential, earning a right-down-the-middle 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. If this is the six-issue arc that I expect it to be, Aaron and McGuinness could easily turn it into an impressive start for this newest Avengers team, but just based on what happens in these pages, I’m not 100% sold yet…