The Mighty Avengers #1 review

Another week, another new Avengers book.

A line I’m sure I’ve used previously. But that’s just it, Marvel can’t stop extending the brand, most recently with Avengers AI and now, this. Our story begins with Thanos’ lackeys, Proxima Midnight and Ebony Maw – feel free to take a titter break – sent to Earth to devastate New York. It’s part of the Infinity event, but as it took me three attempts to get through the first issue of that series, I’ve no idea what his big plan is.

All we need to know so far as this issue is concerned is that the Avengers are in space reacting to the latest cosmic crisis, leaving the Big Apple at the mercy of some rather devastating worms. Happily, not all heroes are away – Luke Cage has started a new team of Heroes for Hire, and they’re ready to defend their territory.

At the beginning of the issue, the new HFH consists of Cage, Vic the teenage Power Man and Ava, the latest version of the White Tiger, proudly described as ‘Avengers Academy graduates’. Early on, White Tiger quits, uncomfortable with the concept of taking money for doing good deeds; she firms up the decision she’d almost made after Dr Octopus, the Superior Spider-Man, gatecrashes their gig, protecting Horizon Labs from the corny but dangerous Parnival the Plunderer. By issue’s end, Luke, Vic and Ock are facing the alien killers, joined by Monica Rambeau, previously Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar, but as of now, Spectrum. She’s accompanied by ‘the Splendiferous Spider Hero (no hyphen)’, apparently a well-known hero who want to keep his identity secret.

I’m calling it now – he’s Eros, aka Starfox, Monica’s former Avengers colleague and brother of Thanos.

Invited to write a team sparked by the Infinity event, Al Ewing grabs the bull by the horns and swings. Thanos may be a cosmic god, but he’s thrown into the shadows by the character work of the soon-to-be Mighty Avengers. Luke Cage, the best Marvel character to come out of the Seventies – sorry Wolverine – is the mature hero, angry young man turned family man. Victor, borrowing Luke’s old Power Man name and chains motif, and Iron Fist’s, er, fist, is the angry young man who needs to find his own voice. And Ava, aware of her heroic lineage, but too idealistic to accept that being paid for doing good doesn’t preclude pro bono heroism.

Then there’s Monica, happier with her heroic lot than she’s been for decades, deciding to pursue the positive. Ewing tells us on the text page that she’s a favourite, and it shows …  there’s a wonderful sequence with her in a superhero costumiers (she’s obviously realised that Janet Van Dyne isn’t actually a great designer). I just hope this series lasts long enough to allow a version of Monica to stick for awhile.

As for Doc Ock, I don’t expect the super-arrogant Spider-Man to be around for long, but he’s a lot of fun. I still don’t get why someone like Luke, who’s known the real Spidey for years, doesn’t immediately click that this isn’t the real deal … is Ock sending out incredulity-blocking waves or something?

I cannot wait to see what Ewing does with Eros, his odd morality and sex-power is bound to add spice to the mix. Plus, the addition of him and Monica means the book won’t be restricted to street-level threats.

Ewing captures the classic Thanos, but his grandiloquent speech is thrown into relief by the super-cheesy lines of Parnival (Ka-Zar’s brother, don’tcha know). Parnival’s the type of low-level threat you’d expect Heroes for Hire to take on, but he’s a decent-enough reason for the trio to be in action. And he’s far more fun than Thanos’ lieutenants – Proxima Midnight with her spiky stick and Kirby crown, and Ebony Maw, apparently a Glorious Godfrey knock-off. We see the latter giving Dr Strange a speech about love which is well-written, but seems out of place in this comic, unless Strange is joining up.

The pencils are by Greg Land, popular with many Marvel readers, and so popular with Marvel higher-ups, but vilified by many comic reviewers for overuse of inappropriate photo reference. I like much of his work here – the backgrounds, some of the faces – but eventually got terribly distracted trying to work out who the main model for his Luke Cage is. I almost settled on Shemar Moore but I’m not quite convinced that’s it.

I dislike his version of Monica Rambeau. Here are images of Monica down the years ….

Different interpretations, but all working from the same basic design.

Here is Greg Land’s Monica Rambeau, as inked by Jay Leisten. The features are dissimilar to those we’re used to – heck, she’s more like the Wasp than Monica. I realise she’s trying to rebrand but a new face is taking things a tad far. It’d be nice if Land stopped relying on direct photo-ref quite so much and fell back on his natural talent, as seen in the likes of Birds of Prey a million years ago. We’re reminded of just how good Land can be with this action sequence, a patchwork quilt of dynamic fun, with eye-popping colours by D’armata.

Mind, someone is bound to accuse Land of swiping the Lego ad a couple of pages previously …

I like Land’s cover, though I wish Marvel would give the Avengers books proper logos again – it’s like Spot the Title, these days.

Overall, a good first issue – I’m incredibly uninterested in the Infinity business, but the character work grabbed me. The art has a few problems, but it’s big and splashy and far better than in some other books (the aforementioned Avengers AI, for one). I’m really looking forward to seeing where Ewing takes this series.

21 thoughts on “The Mighty Avengers #1 review

  1. Yes! I totally agree with you on the character work! Having read most of Hickman's Avengers stuff up to this point, reading this comic was a breath of fresh air. It was wonderful to read an Avengers comic with characterization and decent dialogue! They felt real (as much as they can) enough to care about instead of the cardboard cutouts that Hickman has.

    My only concern (well, besides wondering how long Greg Land will be around) is where the title will go after Infinity. From what I understood about the interviews and research I did, it sounds like the team is only getting together because there are no Avengers around. So what happens when the Avengers do come back?

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  2. I'm pretty sure the reason Land's Monica doesn't look like, well, Monica is that none of the porn references he's using have black actresses. It sounds like a good book, but I'd rather wait till Marvel taps another artist.

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  3. What Mela said.

    Also, I've been holding this back a long time, but I can be silent no longer: white comics artists have GOT to educate themselves about black people's hair. That super-processed super-straight thing Monica has going on here? It is painful, time-consuming, and expensive. A fashion model or a Hollywood actress can maintain that with professional stylists and weaves. Vixen can have that hair. Ororo has weird mutant hair, everybody knows that. Monica Rambeau and Misty Knight simply should not have that processed smooth straightened hair. Monica looked great in Nextwave; they should stick with that iconic look for her.

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  4. While I agree on the Monica thing artists seem to change fairly regularly at times, I can get past it…id prefer the nextwave look as well, but as a biracial man I think it gives an exotic quality so I can deal due to my bias ^_^. Besides it kind of blends well with the whole fashionable Hero vibe shes putting off here.

    Anyway this book has me pretty geeked, once Blue Marvel shows up they will certainly have the guns to be a legitimate threat to both Thanos henchmen and as a Avenger team in general.

    Oddly this is shaping up to be the “coolest” Avenger team for me since…the one with Genis/Captain Marvel and Hank in his old yellow/blue costume. Hope it fits the bill and sticks around for a bit.

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  5. I also loved this book! Hickman's plot over heart and characterization style had me dropping both his Avengers books and skipping Infinity (and Remender's plug any character into a plot style has me off Uncanny as well) so books like Mighty Avengers and Avengers Assemble are just what I want. I'd add Avengers AI should have made the list too but the first issue was just so badly drawn and written I can't bear to read another issue. I'd also like to say that I am an unapologetic Greg Land fan. I don't care if he traces when the results are as good as they are. He has some of the best story telling skills in the business and his pages just pop with a sense of fun and joy. Land could have made Watchmen a happy book even! I can't wait for sales figures on this book even though I usually am apathetic about that. WItha B list cast and an unknown writer, if Mighty does well I can throw it in the faces of every internet know it all who asserts Land can't be popular because they disapprove of that fact!

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  6. They stick together! The Avengers came together due to Loki. The New Teen Titans were formed to fight Trigon. And so on. They find a reason to stay together – they work well together, there are always more threats, they like one another … Ewing will cover it, I reckon.

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  7. 1) It's right there in the first panel – Luc the costume shop guy.
    2) Guesswork, I'm grabbing at potential clues – someone Monica knows, who might annoy her with his one track mind, who would have a connection to the Infinity business. Mind, I've now heard a great theory positing someone else.

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  8. Hi Anon, cheers for the comments. I didn't know Blue Marvel was headed this way, colour me intrigued – I've never read anything with him in it,unless that was him in Dazzler a million years ago. It may have been Blue Diamond (checks)… aha, Blue Shield. Carry on …

    Hello Steve, I think I'm with you on AI – the art is really not ready for prime time and while there's the odd good gag, the story is feeling rather empty. And so long as Land chooses appropriate poses and expressions, things should be fine – it's when the expressions don't suit the moment that I have a problem, and he can overdo the toothpaste ad grins.

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  9. luke has plans as ewing said for this team plus he plans unleash lots of challenges, feels and villains galore like the cortex inc which seems pretty sinister

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  10. insande news mart james robinson and steve pugh and working on the all-new invaders starring cap the human torch winter soldier and the sub mariner and they will be living up to tjeir name as they invade the kree homeworld to stop them from using and artifact that can enslave asgard but don't worry robinson plans to add union jack his favorite character as well as spitfire and the destroyer to the team

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  11. Ha, 'command' indeed – I meant 'commas'! Excuse me!

    I just meant that your stylistic choice to use run on sentences without punctuation and upper casing can get in the way of your great points – they really are out friends!

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  12. thank you mart but i also forgot to mention that robinson plans to add a mystery female member, plus the invaders invade the future and team up with killraven and his freemen.
    Also i want to know what you think of the invaders actually living up to their name

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