REVIEW: This Weeks Marvel Comics By JoshW (Part One)

REVIEW: This Weeks Marvel Comics By JoshW (Part One)

Here is the first part of my reviews for some of the week's biggest Marvel releases: The Avengers #1, Age of Heroes #1 and Enter the Heroic Age...

This week marked the start of an all new direction for the Marvel Universe as the Heroic Age begins, bringing to a close a build up that started with Avengers: Disassembled and recently came to a close with Siege. To mark the occasion, I decided to review the three big titles that were released this week which kick off the new status quo! As two of these feature more than one story, the reviews for them took a little longer than it would for a regular issue so if you guys enjoy this article I'll be posting my thoughts on the rest of this weeks big Marvel releases tomorrow and then each week from then on! Just to warn you, I've done my best to avoid any big spoilers below but as I go into detail about the content of the comic book be warned that you might want to avoid reading any further if you havent yet read the following comic books!

The Avengers #1

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Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: John Romita Jr.

Story: THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE! There came a day! A day unlike any other...where two of Marvel's top creators teamed up for the very first time to create a bombastic new monthly Marvel comic that not only ushers in the Heroic Age of Marvel Comics but unleashes onto the world the most blockbuster Avengers team ever! Who will answer the call? And will they assemble just in time...because Kang the Conqueror is here from the future. And wait till you find out why…!

Review: After years of seeing the team almost constantly tied into one event or another, it’s a real treat to see them go back to basics with a story that feels a lot more like the classic Avengers tales of old! Bendis has often been hit and miss when it comes to writing these characters in my opinion but here he really nails both the new status quo of the Marvel Universe and the relationships that are now very different to what they used to be the last time the likes of Steve Rogers, Thor and Iron Man were in a team together. Bendis gets on with forming the team very quickly, which is far more satisfying than dragging it out over several issues, and he wastes no time in setting up several new plot points that I’m sure he will continue to build upon in the coming months. The return of a classic Avengers villain is extremely satisfying as is the return of a classic Avengers hero! Both of these are handled in a very different way to what they would have been 10 years ago but this is most definitely a good thing as it’s a fresh and interesting take that fits well in the new tone that this book, and the MU as a whole, is going for. The real high point of this issue for me has to be John Romita Jr’s art which I’m a huge fan of. It’s great to see him drawing the two character that he’s done some amazing work on in recent years, Spider-Man and Wolverine, as well as seeing his take on the other characters featured in the book. The one reservation I had before reading this book though is Romita’s take on Iron Man which in the past has often been rather clunky and ugly looking. Here though, his take on the character is nicely done as is his Thor who he manages to make sure doesn’t look out of place with the more down to Earth heroes like Hawkeye and Spider-Woman. Everything from the slower more talky moment of this issue to some brilliant action packed scenes are well drawn and I hope that he, as well as inker Klaus Jansen and colourist Dean White, will be on this title for a long time to come!

As a #1, this does it’s intended job of setting up the new title perfectly and it seems that with this issue Bendis has finally gotten the perfect grip on all of these characters while also creating a comic that will hopefully serve as the flagship Marvel book as the Avengers always used to. And with a cliff-hanger as exciting as this one, I’m already excited for #2!

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Age of Heroes #1

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Writer: Kurt Busiek, Paul Cornell, Rick Remender, Dan Slott
Artist: Marko Djurdjevic, Leonard Kirk, Chris Samnee, Ty Templeton

Story: The Heroes are restored to their rightful place in this new era, and the world is safer for them. They defeated Osborn & his Siege on Asgard, now they have one last foe to face: the Mayor of New York -- J. Jonah Jameson! Also, MI13 come to the US, but one of them isn't leaving--they are defecting to the AVENGERS?! Plus Dr. Voodoo's Sorcerer Supreme duties infringe on “date night” and how much trouble can Spider-Man get into in one day? The answer: A LOT!

Review: I was expecting great things from this issue after reading the above solicitation a few weeks ago but was left feeling very dissatisfied by the time I turned the last page. The first, and longest, story which focuses on J. Jonah Jameson is particularly bad. Over in Amazing Spider-Man, the creative teams have gone to great lengths in order to do some new things with the character but this whole story regresses to focusing only on his dislike of superheroes and gives no insight into his feelings about the Heroic Age other than to show us something we’ve seen countless times before and done a lot better. A lot of what goes on contradicts much of what we know about JJJ and if this is how Kurt Busiek’s much hyped return to Marvel starts, I’m not looking forward to what comes next. The art on the other hand is really the saving grace. Djurdjevic’s work here is a lot different to his iconic painted comic book covers but he does a great job of capturing the character’s facial expressions and nails the brief action scenes too.

The second tale is probably the best one. It’s a short and entertaining story that follows the new Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Voodoo on a date that quite predictably gets interrupted in a number of humorous ways. Again, there is very little point to this story as it fails to give us an idea of his place in the new status quo of the Marvel Universe although I’m sure that fans of the character will especially love it. Remender manages to write this in a way that will appeal to those who may not know a lot about Voodoo while Samnee’s art suits this type of story very.

Next up is the one that I was most looking forward to. As many of you will know by now, I’m from the UK and am a huge Captain Britain fan so was really hoping that this story would result in the character having a larger role in future Marvel comic books even if he doesn’t have his own series. In one respect, I got my wish as the Captain is made an Avenger but at a puny two pages this feels more like a way of letting us know where he is but putting him back on the shelf and I don’t expect to see him popping up in the pages of any of the Avengers book anytime soon. At such a short length, the brilliant Paul Cornell has little to no chance to give us an idea of the ramifications of the decision made by Captain Britain but he writes all of the MI13 characters involved perfectly and it was nice to see the artist from that same series return to handle the art, which is excellent. Finally, we have a story barely worth mentioning. One page and five panels later, you’re left with a Spider-Man story which feels more like filler than anything else. There’s nothing wrong with the story or art but there’s very little that either Slott or Templeton can do in such a short space and I can only hope we’ll get a decent reaction from Spider-Man about the Heroic Age in his own or one of the Avengers titles.

As a whole, this comic book makes for an ok read but it’s far from an essential purchase. There’s nothing on offer here that will give you any great insight into the new status quo and the individual characters and stories just aren’t interesting or essential enough to read even for the biggest fan of any of them.

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Enter The Heroic Age #1

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Writer: Christos Gage, Jeff Parker, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jim McCann
Artist: Mike McKone, Jamie McKelivie, David Lopez, Kevin Walker

Story: Five killer creative teams present the dawning of five all-HEROIC ongoing series. Who will answer the call to rise up and defend the world? The answers are in these pages exclusively! You can’t miss this first look at these new series that’ll have everyone buzzing.

Review: Whereas Age of Heroes was meant to take a look at some of the characters in the new look Marvel Universe, this title very much serves its purpose of being five individual previews for the new comic books Marvel are introducing in the wake of Siege. And in that respect, it does it’s job very well. The first short story by Christos Gage and Mike McKone is a nice way of introducing us to one of the members of the upcoming Avengers Academy although I cant help but feel that it would have been better if they’d used this opportunity to show us who’ll be running the academy and what we can expect from those characters rather than focusing instead on the unknown Rapter who’s interesting but not enough in my opinion to convince many fans to pick up this title. The second is an Agents of Atlas story that may have gone a little over my head as I’m not particularly familiar with the characters. It’s a fun enough tale that I’m sure fans of the team will enjoy and ends in a way that I think will convince many readers to hunt down the first issue in order to see how the story continue to develop.

The Black Widow part of the book is a little odd in the respect that her new series is already two issues in and so it’s not clear whether this story serves as some sort of prologue to the events of that title or whether it’s a standalone tale. Regardless of that it still makes for a well written and nicely drawn story which I really hope will have some sort of impact on the new, excellent, solo series as I was left quite intrigued by the ending in particular. Fourth, we see something that I’m sure many comic book fans have been anticipating for a long time…Clint Barton back in costume as Hawkeye! Teaming up the character with Mockingbird results in a great dynamic but McCann also pens an action packed, fun tale that features plenty of exciting moments too. Lopez’s art is well suited to the two colourful characters and he handles the aforementioned action scenes perfectly. McCann also manages to add an element of intrigue into the story that has me interested enough to pick up Hawkeye and Mockingbird next month!

Finally, we have a prologue to the upcoming, all-new Thunderbolts title. This is probably the best story out of the five as writer Jeff Parker manages to also give us an inside look at the superhero prison, the Raft. A lot of the issue focuses on a few of the villains incarcerated there and this serves to give us an idea of the new, more secure set-up as well as how the villains in this situation are forced to interact with each other and the actual prison itself. One fun twist and an awesome Luke Cage scene later and we’re left with a clear and brand new status quo for the Thunderbolts that puts Cage in an all new, interesting situation which I cant wait to see more of! So, as I mentioned before this book serves it’s purpose in setting up these new titles and I for one will be picking all of them up , apart from Agents of Atlas, next month! This issue makes for a great read and if you’re still not sure about which, if any, of the new titles to pick up, Enter the Heroic Age is the perfect tool to help you make up your mind!

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Thanks for taking the time to read and feel free to share your thoughts of these comic books in the usual place! And be sure to check back on CBM tomorrow when I'll be reviewing Invincible Iron Man #26, Rescue #1, Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #2 and X-Men Legacy #236!
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