In the wake if the Seige and the birth of the Heroic Age in Marvel we are given the birth of not one but three new Avengers titles. Gone are all the original Avenger titles, with the Mighty Avenger, New Avengers, Dark Avengers and Avengers: The Intitative all being cancelled and replaced.
The Avengers #1
This is the flagship team of the Avengers line, replacing the feel that Mighty Avengers held when it launched and New Avengers at its end. This is the team of the best and brightest, the mightiest heroes and the symbolic saviours of our world. This title is meant to be the companies big heroes team that will stop at nothing to protect the world.
The team, lead by Maria Hill, has the big three -Thor, Iron Man and the Barnes Captain America- with Wolverine, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman and Clint Barton finally returning as Hawkeye. It has the feel of classic Avengers team, but with the addition of Bendis’ recruits. Compared to recent Avenger titles it feel that this line-up is missing the sheer power that the titles previously held. When Mighty Avengers launched it held Ares, Iron Man, Sentry, Wonderman and Ms. Marvel in its roster, a strong hitting group with varied powers, but the epic feel that Mighty Avenger once held doesn’t seem to be matched. It is true that very few things could ever stop Iron Man and Thor working together, but the sheer strength seems to lacking otherwise. Spider-man is once again being called on to carry the funny bone of the comic, Clint replacing Cage as Spider-man’s comedic sidekick, as almost half the members have some deep powerful issue to deal with, Drew and Stark both still feeling guilty and Barnes unsure of himself in such a line up. While the comic hints on the addition of two possible new members, one of which guaranteed to be another male, the team truly feel like it is lacking the female role. With Maria and Jessica holding XX chromosome side it feels that neither of which will provide the power that previous female avengers have. Both Maria and Jessica have strong espionage backgrounds and are very similar characters, so much that aside from Jessica’s guilt that will be tripping over each other as characters. I would like to see Bendis add another female to the roster; one of magical powers would help even out the very similar powerbase between the team such as Talisman (from Alpha Flight), Clea or Jennifer Kale. All three are minor characters that would receive a big boost from Bendis much like he did With Luke Cage and Jessica Drew.
This issue has Steve Rogers, with his new secret identity of Steve Rogers, creating the new Avengers team when Kang the Conqueror shows up with a warning of the future’s peril at the hands of the Avenger’s Children. The team debates what to do when Thor declares that they will go ahead in time and save the world. Here the ninth team member is said to be their solution on how to time travel and their final member. Much like New Avengers, Bendis first control of the Avengers since his Disassembling of the former team, this issue suffers from a reactionary plot. The team only acts when something happens, first they are attack by ninja, then Skrulls, then Wanda, and then the flu. The team never stood out on their own and never taking a stand until the Civil War. This issue seems to suffer from that as well. Unlike rebuilds of the team in the past, post-civil war and post-invasion, when the teams were rebuilt with a purpose, this team is sadly lacking in one. It seems that Rogers builds the Avenger because there has to be an Avengers team.
Secret Avenger #1
The Secret Avengers, led by Steve Rogers himself, consist of Beast, War Machine, Valkyrie, Moon Knight, Nova, Black Widow, Sharon Carter and the irredeemable Ant-Man. This team seems to have some of the power that the Avengers were missing with Valkyrie, War Machine and Nova but still falls short of previous rosters. Once again I find that most the female rolls are similar characters that come from a espionage background, Sharon and the Widow, but in this team the males seem to be crossing abilities as well. With Beast, War Machine and Nova each dealing with the scientific aspects, and Rogers, Moon Knight and Ant-man dealing with the hand-to-hand and infiltration. While the heavy influence on covert actions and scientific intelligence is a good foundation for a covert prevention team, one must question the level of writing that will come out of it.
The issue deals with the formation of the Secret Avengers, through Abbrams-like flashbacks, and the team’s apprehension of a mystical crown, the issue plays smoothly with few bumps. Secret Avengers seems to have more of a purpose then the flagship title, their purpose to be a shadow ops team that infiltrates and strikes at the threats before they happen and dealing with the aftermath of the Osborn administration. The only flaw of this issue, despite lacking any real urgency, is with Ed Brubaker at helm, one of my favourite writers, is that this comic already is becoming a Steve Rogers book. With the Captain America titles reserved fir Bucky Barnes, this title may be the location for Steve’s angst, worry and stress. It will be here that he loves and looses, a trait that often ends up robbing a team title of depth, much like how DC’s The Titans quickly became a comic about Roy Harper raising Lian and being Arsenal.
In the past we were given team books when a need arose, when magic grew to be a big part of DC we got Shadowpact, when the Vililans united we got the Secret Six, and when the anti-mutant attacks grew in severity we got X-Force, but while I have been a fan of the Bendis-era Avengers in the past, why is it now we are getting an Avengers team? Is Marvel simply printing the Avengers book for the sake of printing them? Or do they have a new great purpose for them?
In the opening pages of Avengers Wonderman makes a solid debate against the Avengers. The Superhero Civil War, The Mutant Decimation, the Skrull Invasion and Norman Osbourn all have one thing in common, they were the Avengers fault.