Review: Avengers Annual #1 – Immonen/LaFuente

avengers-annual-01-300x461Avengers Annual #1 is a welcome bit of light relief, after the convoluted complexity porn that was Hickman’s Infinity. It’s equal parts action packed, witty, poignant, and bizarrely adorable.

Writer Katherine Immonen has written a fun and charming stand alone story, that could have easily been as preachy as an after school special, but instead had me grinning from start to finish. David LaFuente’s art fits nicely with Immonen’s at times chaotic plot, and some of his panels are the funniest sight gags I’ve seen so far this year.

The plot centres around Zamira, a student of Shang-Chi who stows away after a tour of Avengers Tower for unclear reasons, and Steve, who drew the short straw and has been left behind to stand guard over Christmas. Somehow Immonen has managed to pack an affecting, almost depressing sub-plot for Steve, in to what is otherwise a chaotic and action packed book. I was expecting something with as much substance as candyfloss, but instead this is a surprisingly character-driven issue, that takes a moment to look behind the superhero persona.

While I didn’t really think much of Zamira, the manifestations of her power – self styled copies of existing heroes – delivered some genuinely funny one liners, often full of innuendo, and always poking more than a little fun at characterisation. Subsequent reactions from each Avenger sometimes feel like you’re sitting through a semi-satirical DVD commentary, with real life versions of characters commenting on their on screen personalities.

BWhile I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and laughed out loud at a lot of the dialogue, what I enjoyed most however, was LaFuente’s art. He does a great job of conveying the disorderly mess that Zamira’s power creates (although visually this may be a bit much for some readers), and I liked the exaggerated cartoonish style a lot. Facial expressions are over the top, movement is well conveyed, and as previously mentioned, the sight gags are just hilarious.

Some may find this book a bit too much of a departure from the serious plot of Avengers as a whole, but perhaps a light-hearted one-shot is just what we need after Infinity and its long, drawn out lead up.

If you want to read a book where Cap wears an apron, Tony wears a crab-shaped pool ring, and Natasha tells tall tales about herself, then this is the book for you.