Avengers #1 // Review
Sometimes, the classics just work. Sure, the new thing is...new. It’s fun and exciting and different. The new thing can show you something you didn’t know you’d love but you do as much as the classics. But sometimes you just need the classics. And that’s exactly what today’s new #1 for Avengers offers. Superstars Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness, accompanied by inker Mark Morales and color artist David Curiel, have done an exceptional job of returning the Marvel Trinity--Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man--to the center of the Avengers in this premiere issue, and it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t just feel right.
Finally picking up the story teased back in last October’s Marvel Legacy #1, the Avengers of One Million B.C. battle the First Host of the Celestials, while, in the present, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Thor Odinson discuss reuniting as Avengers again, just as they and a group of powerful superheroes have a related crisis fall in their own laps. Teasing a line-up of serious heavy hitters, this issue gives a perfect first bite of the story, and introduces a massive threat, with an intimidating name, that certainly feels like one “no single superhero could withstand.”
It’s fantastic to see Jason Aaron return to a major, front-and-center title in the Marvel Universe, after the last few years on more self-contained books while he focused on the Star Wars line of comics. The story is filled with momentum from go, dropping readers right back into the world of the Stone Age Avengers in their battle against a Celestial army. While Aaron holds back from more than just a tease of the team in action, he gives each of them the perfect voice and characterization. He also absolutely nails the “big three,” giving a quick and breezy recap of their respective recents pasts’ without spoiling anything from their current status quos, and then introduces the rest of the ‘assembling’ Avengers with both efficiency and skill, encapsulating each character in a moment. One of the highlights of the issue is the interactions between Black Panther and Doctor Strange, two characters Aaron has written before on their own, but the chemistry between them is so good that they deserve their own book (written by Aaron, of course).
All of this is brought into stunning fruition by Ed McGuinness, whose gorgeous pencils give the issue a ton of energy while never looking too cartoonish. His characters all emit the gravitas they deserve despite still looking very much like McGuinness art, a testament to his continued growth as an artist. With Mark Morales’ intricate ink work, each page, each panel, is a stunner. Of course, it’s hard to oversell the contribution of color artist David Curiel; the palette is bold yet never over the top, the lighting is masterful and perfectly suited to the mood of each scene, and the energy effects are sheer perfection. He makes the case that he is one of the best colorists working today.
The only real problem with the book is with the character designs of the new enemies introduced at the end of the issue. While they are meant to invoke the gravitas of classic characters, there is something missing that diminishes that. Perhaps that’s just the shock of the direction taken that will wear off once they’re seen in action, but, for now, it’s the one negative thing this title has going for it, which, given that they appear on just one page, is a tiny caveat--for now.
This is a sublime first issue, a showcase of all the best the creative teams have to offer. But it’s also the most classic version of the team that Marvel has put out in a number of years, certainly since Original Sin. With its streamlined roster of inarguable powerhouses and the sort of universal threat that drives the best Avengers stories, this issue feels like the start of something big, and anyone who misses their chance to jump on board could well regret it.