Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

AVENGERS #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

The Heroic Age is sweeping through Marvel Comics and bringing with it a blast of much-needed fresh air after the long, dark time known as the Civil War. Truth to tell, I was getting tired of all the angsty darkness – and don’t get me started on the whole Spider-Man/MJ debacle. Lois and Clark are making it as a couple these days, and I don’t see any reason why Peter and MJ could have done the same.

Anyway, the Avengers. Brian Michael Bendis seems to be hitting his stride. Again. After all the issues of the Avengers he’s written, I would have thought he’d be written out. Apparently that’s not the case. His wit still crackles across the pages and burst in the word balloons peppered across the colorful action and regrouping.

Ed Brubaker has reforged Captain America, and I was really torn about Steve Rogers stepping back into the red, white, and blue suit after James “Bucky” Barnes has done such a splendid job. Thankfully the job of heading up S.H.I.E.L.D. is open (but where does that leave Nick Fury?) and it seems to be the perfect match for Steve. His new costume is just reminiscent enough of his old threads to work perfectly.

Bendis is even weaving in the Next Avengers, the future sons and daughters of the Avengers (maybe) that debuted in one of the animated movies based on Marvel Comics properties. That is seriously cool, and I wonder if there are plans to destroy that future or maybe spin out another series. Probably too early to think about that at the moment.

I like the movement in this comic. There’s a lot going on, a lot of fences to mend. Best of all, people aren’t wallowing in guilt over what has happened in the past. They’re just getting on with their lives. I loved the exchange between Spider-Man and Hawkeye over Hawkeye’s decision to once more be Hawkeye. The dialogue between Thor and Captain America (Bucky) was priceless.

But the twists and the turns this story arc is taking have already whetted my appetite for more. Kang wanting to help the Avengers? No one has a time machine? Ms. Marvel wants to know which of them had kids? And the future (?) Hulk sits in the shadows of some cave knowing everything that’s going to happen?

I’m hooked at this point. I don’t know exactly how everything’s going to shake out, but Bendis is once more creating magic. Fans think of George Perez as the most gifted comics artist, able to literally draw dozens of characters that cover the panels of a page. But Bendis is the only writer I know that can dump a couple dozen characters onto a page and somehow manage to keep the reader in tune will all the disparate conversations while advancing story at the same time.

John Romita Jr. handles the pencils with a vibrancy and sense of fun that had me immediately going back to look at the panels again. I love that the story and dialogue hooked me, but the art made me flip back through the action one more time. The two page spread where Thor blasts Kang out of his boots was gorgeous.

It looks like we’re locked in for a fun ride on this one.

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