Mighty Avengers #1 by Al Ewing (Comics Review)

Its no secret that Marvel, ever since its universe relaunch last year under the Marvel NOW! banner, has released Avengers titles, with all sorts of team make-ups, whether featuring all the older and recognisable heroes or some of the younger generation heroes, many of whom are directly tied to the older heroes. I’ve had a rough time getting into any of Avengers comics because of this and only recently have I made any inroads on that front, having read the first two issues of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Kieron Gillen’s run on Young Avengers so far. Given how Mighty Avengers shaped up with its first issue, it looks like I just might be adding it as well to my regular pull-list alongside Young Avengers.

When it was announced a few months ago, I was kind of really excited for the title. It seemed to feature heroes that I know next to nothing about such as Monica Rambeau and Luke Cage, or heroes whose current incarnation I have no experience with, such as Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body and calling himself the Superior Spider-Man. My excitement was slightly tempered by the fact that Greg Land was drawing this comic, an artist who seems to be quite reviled among many fans to an almost Rob Liefeld level. So I was hesitant going into this title. But I got to say, I kind of really enjoyed this book, on almost all levels.

Mighty Avengers 01The background to this series is that, as per Hickman’s Infinity #1, all the Avengers have left Earth to counter the invasion of the Builders across the galaxy. This has left Earth rather vulnerable since most of its “first-string” heroes are now absent and this gives the Mad Titan Thanos the perfect opportunity to put in motion his plans for the conquest of the planet. I might have missed it somewhere, but I’d be really interested to read how Infinity affects Battle of the Atom, which is another Marvel event but is happening across Marvel’s X-Men books this month and the next. The X-Men pack a hell of a lot of punch and include some really major superheroes so I wonder what the relation is. However, that’s a side thing. What matters for this series is that in the absence of the “main” heroes, Luke Cage and his posse, the Heroes for Hire, step-up to the plate, with some help from Superior Spider-Man, who is apparently just spoiling for a fight right now.

I really liked this issue. Al Ewing tells a really good story and he never seems to miss a beat here. The interpersonal relationships between the Heroes For Hire, how they all relate to each other under Luke Cage’s guidance as a leader, was one of the more enjoyable things about the comic. Like I’ve said, I don’t have any experience with these characters, so it was great to see a completely different team of heroes get together to save the day. Not to mention that I’m really interested in White Tiger as a hero, particularly if she happens to have any relation at all to Black Panther. The symbology of their names I find to be intriguing. Hopefully we get to see a lot more of her in the future issues, because I think its nice to have a superhero team as small as the Mighty Avengers that also has some gender balance to it.

Which brings me to the real selling point of Mighty Avengers: the diversity of its heroes. This might look to be a superficial aspect; it is anything but. Marvel has already been making some serious inroads into diversity, first with Cullen Bunn’s (mediocre) Fearless Defenders, which features an all-female team of heroes, the first such team in the Marvel NOW! era and then we got Brian Wood’s excellent X-Men, which also features an all-female team and includes some of the biggest X-Men heroes such as Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Jubilee and others. And now we have Mighty Avengers, which has a nice gender split to it and also has some racial diversity.

Its nice to see such things get acknowledged, even in “small” ways like this. Comics are not just read by an American audience anymore, they’ve truly gone global and even American society as a whole today is much more racially and culturally diverse than ever, so representation of all the different people around us is great. It should never be a superficial element of course, and the team should be a natural get-together of heroes where the diversity isn’t the sole selling point, and that’s exactly where books like Fearless Defenders, X-Men and now Mighty Avengers do well. They are more than that.

As for the art, I thought it was ok. Not as bad as some people have made Greg Land’s work out to be. It is certainly better than a lot of other art I’ve see in the last few months, from both Marvel and DC, so I suppose that’s something. If there’s anything here that bothered me, it was that the characters often strike a pose, as if for the camera, or that in the latter pages of the issue Land has Luke Cage squinting a lot, which didn’t make sense to me since he draws a perfectly normal Luke Cage earlier on. He gets all the action scenes down really well, they are exciting and charged with adrenaline, but his expressions definitely need some work. The characters sadly appear wooden far too often and that works against the script itself, given that Al Ewing has packed a fair amount of humour and tension etc into it. Jay Leisten as inker, Frank D’Armata as colourist and Cory Petit as letterer help make the overall art better, but there’s only so much they can work with, given the deficiencies in Land’s art.

Overall, a nice promising issue. I’m hoping that things improve on all fronts as the series progresses. Some of Ewing’s dialogue is a bit stilted and formal, veering into typical villain dialogue, and that should really go, I think, although that might depend on his humour angle for the series, given Superior Spider-Man here. And Land’s artwork, yes, some improvements definitely needed there.

Rating: 8/10

Posted on September 14, 2013, in 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Writing Challenge, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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