Monday, December 10, 2012

The Week of December 5 in Review Part 1 of 3 – Avengers #1

As I say over and over and over again, I’m letting each week dictate its own flow and narrative. Also what has become a reoccurring theme is I can’t keep up with all of my reading and therefore again a bunch of books just won’t be mentioned. I wish I had more time to devote to giving each book more of its due because even books I dislike had a lot of effort put into them to get made at all.

Before we begin Part 1, I first need to give you the links for next week’s books. The clean and simple link is here and the detailed list you can find here. I needed the detail list this week as Deathstroke was due to be taken over by a new writer. I checked the detail list and found out it was this month and the new writer is Justin (Luthor Strode) Jordan, so I added Deathstroke back on my list for a try out again. The books I’m anticipating the most Batman, Clones, Walking Dead, Conan, Creep and others. This week’s is finally down to a more reasonable number, so of course two hardcover collects are due out. One week I will have a small bill.

I chose to do a post solely on Avengers #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena not because it was the best book of the week but because it was a fascinating book on multiple levels.
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At its core it was just another setup issue starting a new series. The Avengers get together and go off to fight a menace and get beaten. Captain America gets back home and summons a new team. The new team is on the final panel and we see a large group of “C” list (to be nice) characters along with Captain American, Wolverine and Spider-Man. This idea was the genesis of the New X-Men back years ago when Professor X had Cyclops pull together a group of mutants to save the original X-Men after they were defeated by a major bad guy. That ultimately gave us the Claremont/Byrne era which catapulted the X-Men into the forefront of the MU. Of course a key difference is that entire adventure started and ended in one extra size issue. I can almost guarantee that this story will take at least six issues to drag out for a resolution. In fact with Jonathan Hickman in the driver’s seat I’d be willing to be bet he has an exact ending in mind and we will take a couple of years to finally get to the point of his story. Jonathan is very talented and a great writer and Marvel seems to love the decompressed story telling idea. Hickman can drag it out forever. Heck he started his Marvel writing gig with Bendis as co-writer so he learned from the master. This series will take a long time to come together.

I counted 12 Avengers besides Captain American in the picture and with a book that should be action oriented getting every cast member face time is going to be almost impossible. Plus the idea of using “C” list characters as your core Avengers group never works, because it is the “A” list characters all together fans really want and they want it done right. I was not a huge Bendis Avengers fan, but Bendis almost always kept major names in the mix. Hickman will have to perform to make this concept work.

The art work by Opena is great stuff and I love his work going back to Fear Agent. I just seriously wonder if his style is going to work for the Avengers book. The Avengers is the prototypical super hero book that should be high on action and good characterization but is ultimately a slam bang adventure. Opena’s dark and richly textured work is a departure for this type of comic. Personally I love it; I just wonder how the overall fan base will react. For the first few issues newness will carry the day, but check on sales in six months and see how things are going.  

Another aspect is the fact that we started with the Avengers Movie cast. I guess the hope is that the movie fans will try out the new Avengers book and be so hooked to come back for more. In the past I would have said what movie fan base. Today it is more of a digital market place then ever and no reason why more of the movie fans could not be enticed to try out this book digitally. Of course it is a bait and switch because by the end the “Avengers” are captured and we have the loser squad coming to the rescue.

The last point I want to make is the structure of the story. Hickman can have an obtuse style that maybe thought of as cool by his fans, but I find to be at times disjointed and a little wonky. Plus Hickman is a graphics designer by education I believe and he has infused a lot of that into this issue. Aesthetically the designs look great and I’m sure he can make a cool and inviting webpage, but buried within the comic and providing interruptions to the flow of the art I think it hurts the book.

The final assessment for me is that Hickman has crafted an interesting opening, I love seeing “C” list characters being given the light of day (as you can actually do stuff with them) and I’m a huge Opena fan, so I’m signed up for the series. I’m just not sure if Marvel has what they want in their Avengers book, but I give them credit for making it different and perhaps the Avengers book for the next generation of fans.  It sure as hell is not a Joss Whedon Avengers and I know with all the money the movie made, Marvel is desperately looking to replicate that success in its comic.

Part 2 later today.


  1. I loved Opena's art and I had never seen it before. But I was not really impressed by the story, especially the lets tease you with the future now bit. I think this might be the first Marvel Now title that I've picked up that I won't pick up again. I don't feel like waiting forever for something to happen. And what on earth time frame is Captain America's book supposed to be in?

  2. I think Cap is in a separate time frame. My guess is two years will pass in Cap's book but he will return almost at the same time he left.

    This book is an easy one to skip.

  3. Yeah, but my question is when did/is he leave/leaving?

  4. Not sure, good question. Can anything happen in Cap's book that actually matters? It is like Cap in Avengers is a different guy.