Monday, 16 December 2013

The Avengers, Vol.3


The Avengers Vol.3
Captain America called all of their
mothers fat.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Daniel Acuna, Renato Guedes, Brandon Peterson

Collects issues 18-24 and 24.1

Read as trade paperback

Background Information:

In the wake of an event known as Secret Invasion, Green Goblin Norman Osborn took over the Avengers. In an era known as the Dark Reign, Osborn utilised the Avengers to commit awful crimes against humanity. His reign ended when he tried to attack Asgard, and the Avengers once again formed under Iron Man and Captain America.

What you probably also need to know is that the Avengers have always had a rotating door; allowing multiple superheroes to enter the team. As such, don’t expect to see Thor or the original Hulk in this group.

Review:

The Dark Reign cemented Norman Osborn as one of the most interesting villains in the Marvel Universe; he’s manipulative, maniacal and very, very rich. The third volume of The Avengers takes full advantage of this character and does a far greater job of introducing new readers than the first volume of Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates.

Vol. 3 is essentially a new beginning for the Avengers. Captain America assembles a new team of avengers that includes Storm and a newly –rebuilt Vision (think a robotic superman and you’re pretty close). In the meantime, Osborn’s organisation H.A.M.M.E.R, the Nazi spin-off group HYDRA, and the terrorists A.I.M have joined forces to create super-soldiers based on the DNA of various Avengers. It’s a plot fit for the Avengers movie, and is actually a better plot all-round. Bendis’ storytelling packs Vol. 3 full of big cinematic moments- the kind that show giant soldiers attacking jets, Hulk-Spiderman hybrids chasing characters through tunnels and Wasp-powered soldiers making short work of Red Hulk. Admittedly, most of the story doesn’t have much in the way of depth- character development is sacrificed in favour of action scenes and witty dialogue. What I can say for the film is that it’s no less shallow than Joss Whedon’s Avengers film, which actually makes it pretty accessible to new readers.

When depth makes an appearance in Vol. 3 is in issue 24.1, which sees Vision trying to adapt to a world in which he has been dead for many years. He mends his relationship with She-Hulk, who apparently ripped him in two many years ago, he confronts Magneto, his father-in-law and mourns the loss of his one-time wife Scarlet Witch. When reading this issue, your heart has to break for Vision; he’s lost so much that Bendis makes us wonder if being repaired by Tony Stark was really the best thing for the robot. It’s a pity we didn’t see more of this scattered through the issue.

I’m a little disappointed that Storm was so under-utilised in this volume. She gets set up rather nicely in Vol. 3, as a suggest recruit by her husband Black Panther, and she is supposed to be the friendly face of Captain America’s new group of Avengers. For some reason, however, Bendis chooses to keep her only to try and zap things with lightning. It’s a shame, as Storm is one of the most interesting of the X-Men, and including her in the Avengers looked like an opportunity to bring her more into the spotlight. For some reason, though, Bendis doesn’t see it that way, and Storm’s inclusion seems only to be a way to fill numbers in the squad. Instead of the bold, dynamic character that the Queen of Wakanda is, she gets written as more of an afterthought.

I get a little worried when I see the names of three different artists on one book. It usually means that the quality of art is going to vary significantly and that destroys the feeling of unity that a book should portray. Thankfully, in the combined efforts of Acuna, Guedes and Peterson, I really didn’t notice any disconnect in the art. That’s a hard thing to do when there’s only two artists, yet these guys pull it off perfectly. The action is drawn really well and the panelling has some moments that really stick out; case point, in a scene where a jet is crashing, thin, diagonal panels cover the page, creating a “speed lines” effect that fits the moment just right.

Overall, The Avengers Vol. 3 is a great starting point for any new reader- the book offers a fantastic story, and the consistent arts helps that along. It’s just a pity that some characters feel underutilised. It gets a 3 and a half out of five speed lines.

*** ½

+ Plot idea is great.

+ So is the art.

- The story itself is fairly shallow.

- Storm is drastically underutilised.

Alternate Option: Ultimates Comics- Ultimates Vol. 1

Okay, it’s nowhere near as good a title, but if you really want a good starting point for an Avengers story, you could do much worse.