An All-New, All-Different Avengers #1 Review – The World’s Mightiest Teen Angst

Avengers #1, 2015TITLE: All-New, All-Different Avengers #1
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
PENCILLERS: Adam Kubert, Mahmud Asrar. Cover by Alex Ross.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: November 11, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mark Waid and Adam Kubert on an Avengers book, with Alex Ross doing the covers. That’s not exactly a hard sell, is it?

All-New, All-Different Avengers begins at street level, as Captain America (Sam Wilson) and Tony Stark have an impromptu reunion in front of numerous civilians. Sam continues to struggle with his every move being analyzed by the news media (as we’ve see in Captain America: Sam Wilson), and as he’s been offworld for some time, Stark Industries has been crumbling without him. But our heroes snap back into action mode quickly, when they come across Spider-Man (Miles Morales) taking on Warbringer.

We then jump six weeks backward, to see a charmingly awkward meeting between Ms. Marvel and Nova. Ah, the trials and tribulations of a budding teenage romance. At least, I think that’s what this is. Who knows? Teenagers are weird…

Avengers #1, Adam KubertSo our new and different line-up of Avengers consists of: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor (Jane Foster), The Vision, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova (Sam Alexander), and Spider-Man. What makes this group interesting is not only the diversity we see on the team, but how they’ve mixed the newer, younger heroes in with the veterans. Kamala, Sam, and Miles are all teenage heroes, so they’re bound to have a different worldview than their teammates. Plus, as editor Tom Brevoort said in a recent Newsarama interview, half the team goes to school, which means different hours of operation.

This issue does something many team books don’t take time to do initially: Establish a solid rapport between the characters. Not just the ones who haven’t met before, but the ones who have. Stark and Wilson obviously know each other. But this book gives us a nice look at the sort of friendly antagonistic relationship they’ve developed over the years. That sort of familiarity is a good way to kick off a legacy team book like this, especially given the exposition they have to get out on the table.

Adam Kubert is in his usual form here. Which is to say, good. His attention to detail is excellent, and while we only get a moderate amount of action from his half of things, he brings a nice sense of gravity that you’d associate with a more traditional Avengers book.

Avengers #0, Nova, Ms Marvel, Mahmud AsrarMidway through, we switch our focus to Kamala and her friends in Jersey City, as Nova chases a monster from the Microverse through the city. Waid does an amazing job writing not just awkward teenage dialogue, but freaked out teenage inner monologue. It’s immensely endearing, as most of us have been in front of a crush and not had a clue what to say. Asrar’s animated pencils match Waid’s tone perfectly, particularly when it comes to our characters’ nervous, apprehensive, or outraged faces. I’m very interested to see how this book blends the world-shaking crises with the more personal ones. Our opening page seems to indicate we’ve got both on the horizon.

Also worth nothing here is that Tony Stark has a hovercar that can transform into Iron Man armor. Why? Because he’s Tony Stark.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #1 definitely leaves you wanting more. There are plenty of questions left to be answered, including how Thor and Vision fit into all this, and how Miles may effect the dynamic between Sam and Kamala. As the months go on, hopefully this will indeed prove to be a new and different kind of Avengers team.

Images from author’s collection.

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An Avengers vs. X-Men Review – Cyclops Did WHAT????

Avengers vs. X-Men coverTITLE: Avengers vs. X-Men

AUTHORS: Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction
PENCILLERS: John Romita Jr., Olivier Coipel, Adam Kubert.
COLLECTS: Avengers vs. X-Men #0-12
PUBLISHER: Marvel
CUMULATIVE PRICE: $52.87
GRAPHIC NOVEL RELEASE: November 2012

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Avengers vs. X-Men was one of the more inviting event comics I’ve seen in several years. The title alone tells you a lot. You read it and you immediately know the premise, and that almost all of Marvel’s big name heroes will be front and center. Toss in the fact that it revolves around the Phoenix Force, one of the most recognizable pieces of Marvel’s mythology, and we’ve got ourselves yet another Avengers-themed money vacuum. I wish I had one of those…

When the Phoenix Force returns to Earth, the heroes fear it has come for Hope Summers, Cyclops’ granddaughter from the future (don’t ask). Fearing for the safety of the entire world, the Avengers, led by Captain America, try to peacefully take Hope into protective custody. But Cyclops, now the leader of his own team of X-Men, won’t allow it. After Scarlet Witch reduced the mutant population to roughly 200 in House of M, Cyclops sees Phoenix’s return as Hope’s chance to fulfill her destiny as the savior of mutantkind. His refusal to cooperate leads to a battle between the Avengers and the X-Men. Ultimately, this conflict among the heroes will place everyone in even greater jeopardy as the X-Men are granted a power greater than they can possibly imagine…

Avengers vs. X-Men #1, John Romita Jr., face offSo you’re going to put these two teams against one another, and not have mind control be a factor (at least not initially). The first thing you need to be worried about is making sure neither team looks like the bad guys. Avengers vs. X-Men accomplishes this by having both teams fight for control of the situation, rather than work together to solve it. Captain America shows up on Utopia, and essentially tells Cyclops they’re taking Hope into protective custody. Feeling threatened, and with the mindset that the Phoenix could help reignite the mutant race, Cyclops lashes out. Thus, the fight begins.

So what we have here is a situation that both sides came into looking for a fight. Captain America secretly brought the entire Avengers roster to Utopia as back up. On the other hand Cyclops, who’s kind of been acting like a dick lately, thinks that the Phoenix Force, a destroyer of worlds that once possessed and killed his wife Jean Grey, is only concerned about the welfare of the mutants. But Earth’s entire population will ultimately be endangered here. Throw in the way Captain America cheap shots Wolverine in issue #3 for no real reason, and for the first half of the story both teams are essentially having a dick measuring contest with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. That doesn’t exactly reflect well on anyone, does it? But we have to have a fight, right? Otherwise we can’t sell comics…

Just before the halfway point, Marvel does play the mind control card by having the Phoenix possess Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor the Submariner, Colossus and Magik. The “Phoenix Five” then begin to remake the world as they see fit, telling world leaders that the time for peace has come…whether they like it or not. This turn of events is about Cyclops more than the other four. Avengers vs. X-Men marks the culmination of the slow fall from grace we’ve seen him go through in recent years, the apex of it all being what happens with Charles Xavier.

Avengers vs. X-Men, Phoenix FiveReaders are always looking for long term consequences from their event comics. In terms of AvX, they need look no further than Cyclops, who truly becomes a tragic figure in this book. Like so many other characters in mythology and popular culture, he was only trying to do the right thing. But he went to such terrible lengths to do so that he literally became the kind of force he originally set out to stop. In the end, not only did he murder his surrogate father, but he lost everything. He lost the family, his friends, his camaraderie with his peers, even his freedom. while these five characters are being influenced by the Phoenix, their choices are still their own. All of this was his doing. He did it. Him. And now he has to live with that for the rest of his life. Pretty heavy stuff, huh? In terms of long term effects, the added depth and dimension this story brought to the Cyclops character will likely be its enduring legacy outside of being an event comic where a bunch of heroes fought each other. And let’s be honest, Charles Xavier will be back eventually.

In terms of structure, things grew a little stagnant during the second half of the story, as we knew we were simply waiting for the Avengers to take the Phoenix Five down one by one. They give Spider-Man the spotlight for an issue, as we see him persevere while Colossus and Magik beat him within an inch of his life. That provides a nice character moment for him to break up a bit of the staleness. But it’s an unavoidable valley in the story. The writers do what they can with it, and very capably I might add. But it is what it is.

Avengers vs. X-Men, Spider-Man, Colossus, MagikJohn Romita Jr. does some fine work here, despite some awkward depictions of Cyclops early in the story. Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert are also very strong. One person I took special note of in issue #11 was Laura Martin, whose reds, oranges and yellows made for a great sunset metaphor during the Cyclops/Xavier confrontation.

Avengers vs. X-Men was an easy pitch for readers new and old, it had some of the best talent in the industry attached to it, and it did some great fan service. Could we have asked more from it? I suppose there’s always someplace you can ask for more. But I can honestly say that the main story was worth the money I spent on it. And at the end of the day, can we really ask for much more than that?

RATING: 8/10

Image 1 from heroes4hire.com. Image 2 from gamespot.com. Image 3 from ign.com. 

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