And so the latest book in Marvel’s reshuffled Avengers line-up arrives in the shape of New Avengers #1. Written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Stuart Immonen the book focuses on Luke Cage’s team of Avengers who’s purpose or mission is not yet clear.
This is very much a ‘putting the team together’ book; Tony Stark and Steve Rogers “sell” Cage the Avengers mansion (for a dollar, borrowed from Danny Rand) and tell Cage he can set up his own crew to “go save the word”. Cage’s team – Wolverine, Hawkeye, Mocking Bird, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Ms Marvel, Victoria Hand, Jessica and The Thing – are soon thrown into an adventure involving the Marvel Universe’s magical contingent.
Bendis’ dialogue is typically snappy and the frosty exchange between Jessica and Victoria is both enjoyable and hints at a fault-line within the group that will no doubt be explored as the story develops. And Bendis has fun playing on Wolverine’s reputation amongst Marvel fans for being everywhere at once. Immonen’s art is eye-catching and the page layouts lend a real widescreen feel to the book. His Ben Grimm – all jutting chin and heavy brow – is pleasantly retro and is a real highlight.
Whilst this is an enjoyable set-up issue, and lots of ground is covered in the 25 story pages, the biggest problem is the lack of an explanation of what this team is for. If Adjective-less Avengers is the “main” Avengers book, Secret Avengers is an espionage book and Avengers Academy is the teen-Avengers book, where does New Avengers fit in? The make-up of the team – with the exception of Ms Marvel – would suggest a street-level book but Bendis throws us a curve-ball by dropping the team straight into a magical adventure that threatens their whole plain of existence – the type of threat you would expect the Avengers’ “big guns” to tackle.
Nevertheless this is just the first book in the new series and there was enough in this issue for me to want to read more. My concern is that unless this team finds a coherent role within the larger Avengers Universe, it might become an irrelevance.
- Justin Hobday