Avengers #1

A highly enjoyable entry point into this new Avengers lineup.

The covers: There were eight covers that I was able to find online. There may be more, after all this is a first issue release featuring Marvel’s flagship team. The Regular cover is by Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales & Justin Ponsor. This has Thor in the foreground, bellowing and holding his hammer high. Captain Marvel is to his back right, her fist shimmering with energy. Behind the pair are Captain America and Black Panther, posed as bookends. Iron Man is powering up behind this twosome, with She Hulk looking massively muscular is about to bolt to the right. Ghost Rider is behind Iron Man, while Doctor Strange is at the top center, his arms wide, hands emitting mystical energy, with his cape splayed behind him. All the heroes are atop a mound of debris. I like this cover, save She Hulk being too massive (I’m from the Fantastic Four era of She Hulk readers, so this is a little much for me) and Doctor Strange is overwhelmed by rose coloring. Still, a decent first issue cover image. Aaron Kuder & Jason Keith have used the Marvel characters from one million years ago to comprise their Variant cover. In the foreground is caveman Deadpool bearing an animal’s tusk as a weapon. To the right is Black Panther leaping forward. Just to this hero’s right is Odin, Mjolnir expelling lighting up as he flies forward. At Deadpool’s back right is Iron Fist, her hands blazing with energy. Bringing up the rear is Ghost Rider riding his flaming wooly mammoth. The illustration is great, but the coloring has the characters lost a little. Not helping is a background that causes the characters to disappear. Looking a lot like early work by Mike Mignola is the Variant cover by Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Frank D’Armata. This image has something that resembles a piece of a Celestial’s hand emerging from the top left, while tentacles bearing the same design erupt from the bottom left. In the middle is Ghost Rider, Iron Man, Thor, She Hulk, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther. All the heroes are leaping or flying about avoiding danger or using their abilities to blast at the partially seen foe. The imagery is fantastic and the colors gorgeous. This is one to get! Next up is the Esad Ribic cover which is too light in its colors. This has the modern day Avengers looking down at something just below the reader’s point of view, while the Avengers from one million years ago are behind their present day counterparts. I like this, but the coloring makes it look faded. There’s a Blank Sketch Variant cover for those who would like to get an artist to create a one of a kind frontpiece or one could get the creators of this book to sign it. I like the idea behind this, but on its own it’s not much to look at. The Ed McGuinness Virgin Incentive cover is exactly the same as the Regular cover, just without any text. If one enjoyed the Regular, one will probably enjoy this just as much, if not a little more. A really interesting cover is the Ed McGuninness Premiere Variant Incentive cover which, again, is just like the Regular cover, though the colors disappear on the bottom and right side of the image. It’s a neat idea, but comes across as a printing error. Still, if one is a hardcore collector, this will be one to track down. The Midtown Comics Exclusive has the title looking much as it did for the original number one back in the 1960’s. The artwork below it by Clayton Crain looks very modern. Captain America is in the foreground running towards the right, deflecting bullets with his shield. Close behind him, running to the left, is Iron Man, who is blasting energy from his right hand. Behind the pair, standing tall, is Thor, who looks as though he’s challenging someone in the sky. The three are standing in a pile of debris with a city as their background. The cover has been given some age and damage to give it a classical feel. I would have preferred it to have looked mint. The covers: Regular B+, Kuder Variant A, Land Variant A+, Ribic Variant C+, Blank Sketch Variant cover C, Virgin Incentive A-, Premiere Variant Incentive C, and Midtown Comics Exclusive B 

The story: Opening on Earth one million years ago, Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange, Starbrand, Iron Fist, Black Panther, Phoenix, and Odin have a moment of conversation before attacking something that’s come to destroy the world. There’s some neat dialogue between Odin and Phoenix before she flies off to confront their foe. Descending from the sky are five Celestials and the heroes believe they will not survive the battle. As they watch the inhuman creatures make landfall, they’ve forgotten the four-thousand-year-old Asgardian mead that Odin has left behind because three wretched looking cavemen battle one another to taste it. Jason Aaron then moves his story to the present where Thor, Tony Stark, and Steve Rogers are in a restaurant pondering what to do with their lives and the future of the Avengers. This was a terrific scene that played out for a few pages. It’s rare to see these characters together during their downtime, not wearing their super suits (Well, okay, Thor is). As they discuss whether their team will ever regroup, with them or other characters, Tony’s AI Motherboard contacts thim that something is in near-Earth orbit. The story then moves to Black Panther showing Doctor Strange something that has him concerned. The reader gets quick teases of Robbie Reyes and Jennifer Walters, before moving off world to see what the threat is. Alpha Flight Station has Captain Marvel near the object that’s appearing and even it may be too large for her to deal with. On Pages 24 -25 the threat is revealed, but not in the way I was expecting, so my hat’s off to Aaron for this surprising reveal. But the surprises continue on 26 and 27, which had me thinking of the Season 8 finale of Supernatural. This issue is setting up the first story arc of this newly renumbered series and it’s off in fine fashion with threats, both large and small, in different locations. The final words of the issue had me fired up for more. Congratulations, Mr. Aaron, you’ve got me sticking around to see what happens next. Overall grade: A

The art: I was aware of the Avengers 1,000,000 B.C., but this was my first time encountering them in a book. They look amazing. Ed McGuinness and inker Mark Morales only get seven pages to work with these characters but I would be ecstatic to see this artist team return to these characters to chronicle their exploits. I’m not a Ghost Rider fan, never have been, but the look of this character and his mode of transportation has got me fired up to see more of them. The scene with the original three members in the restaurant is good. Considering that it’s just three guys sitting and talking, McGuinness and Morales make the visuals enjoyable. Notice how the bottom of Page 9 shows the trio sulking as they discuss their current states. As always, Tony and Steve disagree and this is shown perfectly in the bottom two panels on 10 as the pair are visual opposites. Thor, naturally, has the greatest passion at the table, and he looks fired up on 11. Doctor Strange and Black Panther’s introductions look good, with each looking supernatural at the bottom of 14. Though I have to say, I’m not thrilled with Earth’s mightiest sorcerer’s choice in footwear, which looks more like something a twenty-something-year-old would wear. I like Jennifer’s one page tease in this issue with her looking fantastic as she shows her alter ego. Captain Marvel looks smashing and the object she encounters fabulous — what a great tease! What Stephen and T’Challa discover is terrifically ominous, with me wondering if Sigourney Weaver shouldn’t be asked to join the team. The army of threats that appear look fine and very much in line with foes that would be found in a videogame. It’s on 24 and 25 that I was really impressed by the visuals, because I can’t recall ever seeing that before in a Marvel comic, let alone what’s shown on the two pages that follow. The final three pages have some tremendous surprises presented with outstanding illustrations, and the last page has me excited for more. The art on this is terrific. Overall grade: A

The colors: One of the most consistent joys of the “No Surrender” saga in the previous Avengers issues was the coloring by David Curiel. He knows exactly how to color a book to guide a reader through a panel. The detailed first page of the book is a full-paged splash which could have the reader’s eye wandering aimlessly over the illustration, but Curiel uses bright colors to guide the reader: Ghost Rider’s flames to Strange’s amulet, to Starbrand’s luminescent insignia, to the pale flesh of Iron Fist, to Black Panther’s vibrant double pair of yellow eyes, to Phoenix’s red hair, and ending on the metallic helmet of Odin. It’s textbook coloring that works flawlessly. The coloring on Starbrand and Ghost Rider are powerful on the opening pages, with both characters looking vibrant and menacing. The coloring showing the Celestials’ arrival is otherworldly with off blues and oranges. The restaurant that the heroes imbibe in has dim lighting for a relaxed atmosphere. Notice how reds are used when Thor recalls the past and Tony gets a message from Motherboard to intensify the visuals and the story. She-Hulk looks amazing in green, leaving me wanting to see more of Curiel’s work on her in future issues. The violets used for the object in space is mystifying and wholly alien. The coloring on the individual on 24 and 25 is stellar! The colors on the final page are perfection, befitting these iconic characters. Curiel can do no wrong. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s scene settings, Asgardian speech, dialogue, Starbrand utterances, sounds, Motherboard speech, yells, Alpha Flight Station’s broadcasts, and the issue’s glorious final two words of dialogue are crafted by VC’s Cory Petit. The scene settings are strong block letters, slightly tilted to lead the reader into the artwork. I really like them. The Asgardian speech is something that all of this location’s denizens have used for years in Marvel comics, though I’ve never pictured any of their voices sounding different from humans. The Motherboard speech looks neat, perfect for a computerized voice and I was glad to see that they differed from A.F.S.’s broadcasts. Everything Petit does looks good. Overall grade: A

The final line: A highly enjoyable entry point into this new Avengers lineup. The majority of the characters are from the films, with one upcoming and the other two strong possibilities for Infinity Wars II. The premise for restarting the team is great, featuring an awesome cosmic threat. The dialogue will please new and old fans. The visuals beautifully capture the quiet and loud moments of the story. You got me, Marvel. I’m on board for another title. Overall grade: A 

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Avengers-2018-1/digital-comic/653866?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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