Once upon a time, the Mighty Avengers faced the power of Kang The Conqueror. But today we will learn the rest of the story… Your Major Spoilers review of Avengers: War Across Time #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!
AVENGERS: WAR ACROSS TIME #1
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Alan Davis
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Release Date: January 11, 2023
Previously in Avengers: War Across Time: Thor! Iron Man! Captain America! Giant-Man and the Wasp! The classic Avengers against the Hulk on the streets of New York! It’s the beginning of a showdown with Kang the Conqueror that will span the centuries!
AVENGERS (VOLUME 1) #11.5
In the unseen lacunae after the original Avengers’ second clash with Kang, the team returns home to New York City and goes their separate ways to resume their normal lives, or what passes for them. From his future lair, Kang The Conqueror watches, angrily lamenting that the team has once again stopped his quest to take over the Earth, which he wants to use as a granary to feed his future armies. I feel like that is the first explanation of WHY Kang was so intent on beating the Avengers, but with the sheer number of retcons and #TimeTravelShenanigans in his back story, it’s hard to recall for certain. Realizing that his Spider-Man-droid came the closest to defeating the heroes, Kang creates another android, this one in the shape of the Incredible Hulk. Before they can even get home and change clothes, Giant-Man and The Wasp are forced to face the faux Hulk, only to find his power overwhelming. One by one, the Avengers return, only to be dispatched: Iron Man’s repulsors are smashed, Thor is separated from his hammer and reverted to human form, Giant-Man is knocked unconscious, and Captain America is so busy dodging hammer blows that he can’t find a way to shut the robot down…
…because it’s powered by the HEART OF THE REAL HULK.
LOTS OF FUN EASTER EGGS
This issue hits the ground running, plopping readers down in the winter of 1964. Appearances by Betty Brant, Rick Jones, Aunt May, and more are peppered throughout the issue, and Levitz’s script takes great care to keep the characters true to the era. Wasp spends most of the issue gushing over Thor’s sexiness to make Giant-Man jealous, while Iron Man shows up late and refuses to employ anything resembling teamwork. Captain America’s defiant punching of a giant who could tear him in two is pretty wonderful stuff, as is the Hulk-speak dialogue. Paul Levitz does a very impressive job of channeling Stan Lee, but the real magic here is the art of Alan Davis. It’s about as far from the Don Heck/Chic Stone art of the day as possible, giving the team new dimensions. As always, his Captain America moves like a gymnast, and this may be the only time that Janet Van Dyne’s pointy-hat costume could ever be described as anything near attractive. The issue ends with the team vowing to take the battle to Kang, making me wonder exactly HOW they’re going to pull that off. That brings up another of the nagging questions in reviewing this book: If Paul Levitz is writing a “cover version” of Lee’s 1964 team that doesn’t feel like a Levitz story, is it something new? Or is it just a novelty act?
BOTTOM LINE: ALL IN ALL, ENJOYABLE
What strikes me the most about Avengers: War Across Time #1 is how much it feels like a missing chapter, rather than a new take on the Avengers of the day, with lovely art by Davis and a script that feels effortless, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. The layouts are designed to resemble the Silver Age, the credits are delivered with the old-school breathless narration and nicknames for all the creators, and even the coloring is carefully moderated to stay truer to the Silver Age coloring of the era.
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AVENGERS: WAR ACROSS TIME #1
On the one hand, it doesn't stand out as something wild or unusual, but on the other, it feels like a well-done Silver Age issue, with the exception of Davis' lithe artwork.