- Posted by Johanna on May 21, 2006 at 8:27 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: Marvel
Looking for a good superhero comic read? Some of the best straightforward work is being done in the “kiddy” titles… and best of all, they’re usually done-in-one stories, and you don’t have to worry about the inclusion of rape or gratuitous violence or outrageous sexual positioning.
I’ve always enjoyed team titles, but I haven’t been able to get into the Avengers as a series in the past, either because of poor, boring writing (*cough* Bendis) or too much history/continuity emphasis (*cough* Busiek). Now, it appears that I have another chance with this series. Jeff Parker writes, Manuel Garcia draws, and Scott Koblish inks.
First off, I find it interesting who was chosen for this team. Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk, yeah, they’ve been Avengers off and on from the beginning. Wolverine and Spider-Man, they’re in the current stories and they have huge recognition value. If this is supposed to be Marvel’s premier team, then it makes sense to include them, even if it doesn’t suit their characters. And then we come to the girls.
I applaud considering diversity when long-standing franchises are redone. This is a different century from when most of these superhero properties were created or became popular, and I have higher expectations these days. The team needed some females, and it would be nice if it also had some different ethnicities, too. So we get Storm (ok, very popular, very distinctive, kills two birds with one stone) and Giant-Girl. (Who? Apparently Ant-Man’s daughter has wandered over from Young Avengers while wearing Dad’s antenna. Update: I’m told that Giant-Girl isn’t Cassie but Janet, formerly the Wasp, even though it seems completely wrong to call her a “Girl”.)
(Where’s Scarlet Witch? was my first thought. I don’t know a lot of Marvel history, but I had a superhero lunchbox in grade school that I picked because she was on it and I thought she was cool. But magic powers are hard to explain consistently and hard to write, and she’s been tainted by events in the main universe.)
For those of you wondering if I’m ever going to get around to the story, here’s what happens. The book opens with the Avengers getting fired from helping the military, who have come up with robot soldiers that don’t age or get hurt. (That’s a unique choice, introducing a new team and comic by making them irrelevant. Of course, the point of the story is to show the government reps just how wrong they are.) When I tell you the system’s named Ultron, many of you will see where this is going… but that’s another way Parker’s story is clever. He’s redone “robot creation goes bad” in a context that’s new for existing readers and still makes sense to new readers.
I have a soft spot for any comic that features well-meaning but dumb Hulk, and that’s what we get here. When Ultron is introduced via a pixelated image on a giant computer screen, Hulk says “Hulk hate video games!” He’s a little smarter than a dumb beast, which makes him even funnier, as well as a vehicle for the writer to make little counterpoint jabs. The other dialogue is efficient as well, establishing background and character economically and to-the-point.
By page four, they’re all fighting. No book-long filler speeches here! Superhero action is the point, and it’s straight to it. The characters aren’t forgotten, though, with each reacting uniquely and in keeping with their individual voices. The fight leads into another mission, keeping the excitement high but with a variety of events and pacing. It’s also convenient that the robot bad guys have to identify their opponents… which means info blurbs for those new to the characters.
Is this a superhero comic for the ages, one to be remembered decades later? No, it’s just a damn good read with heroes happy to do their jobs with a minimum of angst.
To close, a few more of the funny lines:
Giant-Girl coming up from a tidal wave attack: “I think I swallowed a shark.”
Storm, giving a status report: “We’re in the middle of the Ultron infantry, outnumbered about 300 to 1. So we’re fine. You can come watch if you like.”