Weirdest Avengers Line-Up Ever

Whilst trawling Ebay drooling over some Marvel figurines, I stumbled across the weirdest Avengers line-up ever (click on the pic for full size):



Captain America looks like he’s realised he’s now in a sham team.

Shame they didn’t add Spawn or Wonder Woman in for good measure…

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.

Avengers: Endless Wartime – Warren Ellis and Mike McCone

Avengers_Endless_Wartime_Vol_1_1Endless Wartime is a strange book. It exists in the murky subspace between the primary Marvel continuity, and the cinematic universe – despite being ‘officially’ a part of the former – and as such, needs to be viewed from two different perspectives.

Existing fans of Marvel comics may find the overdone exposition and apparent regression of the characters grating, and out of place, while people entering the format for the first time may find that it’s a great way to ease in to the 616 versions of the characters they know from on screen.

As a whole, Endless Wartime is a good looking book, with a solid plot, and some great dialogue. The art is reasonably pleasing, if a little inconsistent, and Ellis’ political and social commentary throughout never feels forced or like it’s being shoved down your throat.

So it’s good then, right? Ehhh… not so much. My conflicted feelings about this title most likely stem from my dislike of the increasingly blurry lines between universes, so I’m going to set that aside for a moment, and look at it from two viewpoints. First, from that of an existing fan of Marvel comics, and secondly, from someone who is coming to dip their toes in the graphic form of these characters for the first time.

From the perspective of a long time fan, this book is almost illogical in places. Unless I had known this book is intended to fit into the mainstream continuity, I could easily have assumed it was intended to exist in its own universe – a mash up of 616 and the MCU – or possibly a way to introduce other characters (ie Wolverine), into the MCU in a way that isn’t impinged by film rights. While it shows the characters in their current 616 incarnations and costumes, their interaction does little to demonstrate a long standing association and camaraderie.

Now, obviously these characters haven’t always played for the same side, but in Endless Wartime they genuinely seem to dislike each other, which is pretty contradictory to what we’re reading at the moment in Marvel NOW! Add to that the pages and pages of Steve suffering from man out of time-itis, and Carol checking in about her genetic make-up, and it feels almost like we’ve slipped back into the seventies for a hundred or so pages. Clint though, well. Considering his current disaster of a life, I guess waking up in a dumpster is about par for the course.

Apart from the introduction of the threat in the first few pages, the front third of the book almost deals exclusively with Steve, and his struggle to integrate into the modern world. What? Not only is this awful characterisation, it pretty much flies in the face of decades of character development. More than ten years of Marvel time in the future, and he still hasn’t figured out how to use a coffee machine? Most of my thoughts boiled down to oh god why no stop this is just nope argh for the first twenty or so pages.


There are some absolutely brilliant lines, but they’re overshadowed by Ellis’ struggle to introduce the characters to new readers without it feeling like ten pages of clunky exposition. Lines like Clint, we both know I couldn’t possibly be your mother. You certainly never acted like I was, and …yes, I am a genetically stable fusion of human pilot and an alien soldier race from the Large Magellanic Cloud, are so bad, I almost shut the book and tossed it under my bed, to lie in wait for rediscovery next time I vacuum under there (hint: that will be in about two years).

What about the rest of it? It’s an okay story. The violence was certainly toned down to appeal to a younger audience, but there are some great action scenes, and towards the end I felt that the Avengers were starting to feel like a team again, even if Steve was still blatantly mischaracterised, and it felt like it ended with a whimper rather than the bang I was hoping for.

Mike McCone’s art is very good in places, but flat and not particularly dynamic in others. The action scenes are well put together, but some of the more dialogue heavy pages feel rushed and inconsistent. I kind of wish they had chosen to take a risk with the art in this book, rather than going with someone who has a pretty unremarkable (but still skilled) style.

Taking a look from a person picking up a Marvel book for the first time though, things are a little different. While I think the exposition at the start is still overdone, it’s certainly something that’s needed to introduce Carol and Logan (although I’m sure most fans of the MCU have also seen the X-Men films). Tony’s very similar to his MCU counterpart here which, considering Robert Downey Jr’s success in the role, is probably a smart move.

Clint’s pretty much a blank slate from an MCU fan’s perspective, seeing as he was possessed by Loki for much of The Avengers, so they’ve gone for full on ‘hot mess wisecracker with a death wish’, which will only endear him even more to an already rabid fanbase. Sadly, he’s also bullied an awful lot during this book, which won’t go down well with anyone with a conscience. Thor is Thor, and I quite enjoyed how Ellis presented Bruce.

The women are great, with both Carol and Natasha being featured throughout the book. They both have some great lines, and hold their own with the guys, although like everyone else, they are needlessly mean from time to time. They’re drawn respectfully, rather than ridiculously (apart from a couple of borderline panels), and Natasha always has her (MCU inspired) suit zipped up, which is a pleasant suprise.

They’re also however, overshadowed by the men. Half way through Endless Wartime, even the least observant reader will recognise Steve and Thor being heavily featured, a clear ploy at generating interest in Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Nice try, guys, but it’s a fail on the female representation front, sorry. I get why you did it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like your reasons.

So really, what I guess I’m saying is that the characterisation is a problem no matter what perspective you take. If you know the history of the characters, then much of the interaction feels forced and uncomfortable. If you don’t, then even the characters who have been written reasonably well, feel like overused tropes that only has one setting – snark.

EW3Most new readers will probably find the plot interesting and intriguing, and be pleasantly surprised by the political commentary throughout. Ellis’ story is completely bizarre, but strangely believable as usual, but it’s still missing a real hook that would make someone want to pick up one of Marvel’s monthly titles. Despite it’s weirdness, the core concept seems unremarkable. My apathy for the plot itself is demonstrated by my inability to really say all that much about it.

Endless Wartime isn’t a bad book. It’s really good in places, actually. It looks beautiful in hardback, and has some really great design elements outside of the main story pages themselves, and I’m glad I waited to review it once my physical copy arrived, rather than based on its digital version. It’s often funny and clever, and has some excellent action scenes. It just suffers from the desire to appeal to an audience that is perhaps a little more savvy than the creative team is giving them credit for.

What Marvel is trying to do here is smart – release self contained stories, that don’t require the reader to know everyone’s back story or history to be able to make sense of the book. I’m really pleased that they are aiming to encourage new readers, but I’m just not sure they’re going the right way about it.

Review: Avengers A.I. #1 – Humphries and Araujo

avengers-a-i-1And so we begin with the Age of Ultron spin-offs, this one featuring Hank Pym, Vision, Monica Chang, Victor Mancha, and a Doombot. Despite AoU’s truly dire final issue, this seemed like an interesting combination. I love Vision, I find Hank a very interesting and important guy – when he’s written well, and I was interested to see how they would develop Monica as a character in the primary continuity (if you don’t read Ultimates, she’s the current Ults Black Widow).

So… Sam Humphries, who is best known for taking over from Jonathan Hickman on Ultimates, is the writer on this one, and I really only have one word for almost everything he does here.


No no no no no.


To be honest, there’s also some other words that come to mind, but they aren’t appropriate for a review that isn’t preceded by an adult content warning.

I’ve read some other reviews, and I can’t help but wonder… did we read the same book? I hated this book so much that if it had been a physical copy instead of a digital one, I would have burned it ceremonially, and buried the ashes with a small piece of cardboard as a headstone proclaiming here lies what remains of Dr. Henry Pym’s character.

Hank’s no saint, we know this. He’s a mentally unstable, obsessive narcissist, and thanks to that artist’s drawing mistake, he’s also one of the most controversial characters in Marvel’s line-up. But hey, when the writer gets him, he can be very compelling. I think he’s often written badly, but when he’s written well, he’s one of the most interesting and complex heroes out there.

noSam Humphries takes the subtle nuances of his persona, and exaggerates them, turning him into a wisecracking, smarmy, egomaniacal dickwad, who has already apparently forgotten how his out of control A.I. nearly destroyed humanity. I mean, come on. The Avengers almost destroyed reality to repair the mess that was AoU – and yes, as mentioned, Hank is obsessive about his creations. But this is just ridiculous.

What is with writers trying to make characters ‘cooler’ or ‘more interesting’? What is wrong with writing characters in the way that we’ve come to know them? Why can’t someone with a a mental illness be written like a person with a mental illness, instead being turned into a socipoath? While you may think that assertion is a little over the top, that’s exactly the vibe I got from Hank here.

The other characters… whatever. I don’t really care. Steve pops up for a page, and basically tells Monica to let Hank do whatever he wants… I mean what?

I just can’t fathom what is going on with the characters in this book. It’s truly horrendous. The only shining light here is Doombot, who is reasonably amusing, if underused, as a reluctant hero.

What about André Lima Araújo’s art?

Ugh. It’s horrible. Vision looks like a green and yellow brick with some appendages sticking out, the colouring is dull, and everyone’s faces are wonky and flat. Bodies are out of proportion, the page design is snooze-inducing, and all the characters look incredibly young. Where others have praised the action sequence, all I see is a lack of movement, and far too many static panels meant I got very bored very quickly

Over all, it was a real struggle to get through this book. I put the misinterpretation of Hank’s character right up there with Remender’s work with Steve at the moment (Uncanny Avengers, and Captain America), and sadly, it means I won’t be continuing with this title.

Review: The Enemy Within #1 – Kelly Sue DeConnick & Scott Hepburn

Avengers_The-Enemy-Within_1The Enemy Within is a five part crossover miniseries event that kicks off with this book, which is essentially a new issue of Captain Marvel that’s outside the normal distribution calendar.  While it’s not imperative that you read Captain Marvel before this, to fully understand what’s going on I would recommend reading issues 9-12 at the very least.

This book is, at its heart, a mystery.  While there’s action featuring The Grapplers and dinosaurs, the focus is on Carol’s search for Rose the slightly batty old lady, and the quest to uncover who is the mastermind behind all the unsettling events of the past few issues of CM.  All the while, she is dealing with the brain lesion that is supposed to be preventing her from flying.

As usual, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work is above and beyond any other writers I’m reading at the moment (with the exception of  Matt Fraction’s current work who incidentally, happens to be her husband). She had me laughing out loud by the second page, and I really adore how she’s giving us a lot of Spider-Woman in Carol’s story.  Jess Drew is one of my favourite Marvel characters, so I’m always happy to see any Carol and Jess ‘besties’ interaction.

Jordie Bellaire’s colouring is gorgeous, and consistent with her previous work on CM.  I really adore her use of retro colours like greens, oranges, and pale blue.  It gives the comic an air of the seventies, while still feeling fresh and contemporary.  I really hope she continues to work on Captain Marvel, as she’s doing an excellent job.

Scott Hepburn’s pencil work has me in two minds.  While I really really like it at some points, there are moments where I feel like the faces in particular, are veering too far into caricature territory.  I don’t think I’ve ever read anything featuring Hepburn’s art, and while he’s done a good job here, it is a little inconsistent.  The design of every page is excellent though, and I’m really impressed with the action scenes, particularly during the pages where Thor and Carol battle a couple of dinosaurs to get to Rose.

Beneath all of this action, humour, and intrigue, there’s an undercurrent of unease.  Carol’s brain lesion is worsened by flight, and while she tries her best, there are moments where her stubbornness gets the better of her – she really, really hates Cap’s old flying motorcycle.  Just how much of Carol’s story is real, and how much is a hallucination?

All in all, The Enemy Within #1 is an excellent start to a mini event, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

The story will be continued in Avengers Assemble #16Captain Marvel #13, Avengers Assemble #17, and concluding with Captain Marvel #14