The Avengers movie was arguably the most successful "super-hero" movie to date. It was raw entertainment and quite a joy to watch. Granted it was a little watered-down compared to the much darker, meaner, recent storylines of the famed comic series, but nonetheless the film was successful in generating raw entertainment. Now with a coming sequel in the works, Marvel entertainment is sure to take advantage by coming out with a new comic series that premieres the Comic characters of the film. “Avengers Assemble” is a new series that debuted in 2012 written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Mark Bagley that appears to “plug” the possible sequel to the blockbuster film that can included into marvel continuity.
Hawkeye and the Black Widow is on a mission and this mission takes them into combat with a member of an all-new, more powerful member of the Zodiac. This member, Taurus is strong enough to knock out the Mighty Thor and Iron Man. While on another side of the country the Hulk is faced by another Zodiac member, Aquarius, who is trying to recover something from the U.S. army. Just what are they after? Captain America deems that this discovery must be kept a secret. But before long, the Avengers assembled must face the threat of the new Zodiac team and they prove much more powerful than ever before. What is the secret of Zodiac? It is something that will lead our assemblers to another part of the universe; and that they will need the aid of the new Guardians of the Galaxy to face this cosmic threat. Thanos has re-surfaced and he wants a cosmic cube and the elder gods of the universe shall tremble.
This hardcover collects issues 1-8 of “Avengers Assemble”. I do have to admit, while this storyline feels more like an attempt to plug the upcoming films by Marvel, Bendis and Bagley do come out with a competent attempt to debut a new title. I guess, in order to get everyone interested, this new series does emulate the feel of the film and at the same time, it cements its position in current continuity. Yes, the dialogue feels and flows more in the side of ‘for teens’, and the storyline while lacking the depth and intricacies of “Infinity Gauntlet” and “The Thanos Quest”. It was a little predictable, but it proved to be quite an entertaining read since the storyline was action-packed.
Mark Bagley is at his best when illustrating action sequences. The battle between the Avengers and Zodiac was pretty hard-hitting and fun to see. It was cool to see Thor and the Hulk fight alongside each other, instead of against each other in “Fear Itself”. Bendis manages to generate the proper emotions within the characters as in confusion and puzzlement; fighting a team that rivals the raw power of our assemblers was a shock since the Zodiac never had this much power in the past. The struggle withiin the Avengers Helicarrier (you got that right) had both sides trying to get the better of the other. It was a battle that swung back and forth, with the heroes being on the disadvantage. Bendis wanted the reader to be at the edge of his seat. Then, the appearance of Thanos would come to be the biggest reveal as the Avengers have indeed stumbled onto something much bigger.
I guess Bendis and Bagley wanted to properly express the state of mind of the American military, that in creating something that Thanos could desire, it could bring a cosmic threat down to Earth. Marvel has always tried to do what it could in developing ‘public fear’ and opinion, and in the first few chapters, he does manage to get all those things right. There was a feeling of urgency in the panels, as the Avengers realize that their own government had perhaps created something much more dangerous that the mad titan would be so determined to possess.
I guess the weaknesses of the script began to show when the writing tries to do more ‘plugging’ and includes a Guardians of the Galaxy subplot that included their long-time foes the race of Badoon. I am not sure, I felt that this sudden change of focus hampered the pace of the story, and it felt more like a ‘plug’ than an integral part of the plot. Sure, it was going somewhere, and its storyline was meant to continue in another comic book, but I would’ve rather preferred to see a darker premise about the mad titan. I did not have that feeling of dread, and I knew that the heroes would prevail, it was just a matter of how and when.
Perhaps I was expecting a little too much. The inclusion of the elders of the universe did give the story enough cosmic mumbo-jumbo to intrigue me, but by then, it became a little too rushed. I felt several areas of the script proved too convenient, and while the crisis included the appearance of a certain American President and of the other members of the Avengers with the Fantastic Four, the final conflict proved a little too easy and even a little hokey that it lacked cumulative impact in the narrative. (sorry there is no Infinity Gauntlet, no Hulk vs. Thor, no Hulk and Thor vs. Thanos sequences in this collected storyline)
Despite some complaints, it was fun to see Thor and the Hulk take on the Badoon, the battle with the Zodiac and the appearance of Thanos were good moments in comic fandom that I am sure that any Avengers fan would feel compelled to read this collection. There is a lot of 'fan service' and even some light romance. Bendis wanted this story arc a little more on the younger reader side. Bagley is at his best with the action sequences, the fights were raw and definitely had a lot of power. I do have to say, his style of illustration does appear to be a little more on the cartoonish side; I did notice that they characters looked a little younger than usual, and they felt a little on the anime-style. The writing by Bendis was competent, albeit it tried to do so many things in an 8 issue story line, that it could not sustain the feeling of emotion and urgency to keep the suspense steady. There were several things that could’ve been better, but fortunately, the read was as fun as I would’ve wished. This debut felt more like a promo to the Avengers film, and it served its purpose. No, it would not be one of the most significant storyline in the Avengers mythos, but competent to hold its own.
Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
This is the hardcover:
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Brian Michael Bendis is an award winning comics creator and one of the most successful writers working in mainstream comics. For the last eleven years, Brian's books have consistently sat on the top of the nationwide comic and graphic novel sales charts. Brian's other projects include the Eisner award winning "POWERS" (w/Mike Oeming) from Marvel's creator owned imprint ICON, and the Hollywood tell all "FORTUNE AND GLORY'. Entertainment Weekly gave both projects an "A." SONY and FX networks are currently developing POWERS for series with Brian as exec producer.