Sunday, 1 March 2009

Mighty Avengers: A return to form

Since Brian Michael Bendis 'Disassembled' the Avengers starting with #500 the title has come in for a lot of criticism, particularly from longtime Avengers fans, arguing that Bendis' New Avengers were not 'the real' Avengers, and were not true to the team's history. While I think there are flaws in this argument, I can definitely see where the naysayers are coming from. Bendis' New Avengers often suffered from extreme decompression, and a lack of direction and purpose. The title was also often horrificly derailed by events, indeed its abysmal tie in to Secret Invasion led to me dropping it.
Mighty Avengers, launched a couple of years after New Avengers, and was also written by Bendis. Aimed at fans of the classic Avengers, featuring a more traditional set up, in my eyes it was streets ahead of New Avengers, returning the Avengers to a more classic style, while still retaining some modern sensibilites. However, eventually the title came to be plagued by familiar demons, lateness, inconsistent art and poor tie ins, all of which have cursed New Avengers at one time or another. The utterly tepid, unnecessary Secret Invasion tie ins were the last straw and led to me again dropping the title.
However, the announcement that Dan Slott would be taking over with #21 reignited my interest. Slott I feel is one of Marvel's premier writers at the moment, and it is about time he was given a chance on one of its bigger titles. (ASM aside) Khoi Pham was more of an unknown quantity to me, but nonetheless I was very excited about it.
Happily, and somewhat surprisingly I have not yet been dissapointed. While there isn't really anything groundbreaking about the two issues I have read, there is a lot to admire. Slott has proved once again that he is a master of using obscure continuity, and referencing other writers work. While many are happy to steamroller over things to suit there own purposes, Slott is careful not to do this, an example being his use of the Hulk, where he references the recent 'Planet Hulk' storyline, and Pietro's inner turmoil and some of his villainous deeds from the past few years.. Slott's dialogue is also impressive, each character clearly has it's own voice, and adds something different to the team. Hercules in particular is a fine addition, I keep meaning to pick up his solo book, and his showing here is a fine advertisment for it.
The plot is impressive as well. It is generally well paced, keeping up the mystery while slowly drip feeding readers information to keep them interested. It is also good to see the Avengers dealing with threats on a global scale again, Bendis' generally tended to stick to more street level, personal stories, which were a nice change, but more suited to other characters.
With the widespread changes to the Marvel Universe during the 'Dark Reign' crossover, it is fantastic to see a Marvel book largely ignoring them, and blazing its own trail, while not being afraid to reference continuity. Slott is doing sterling work so far, and long may it continue. In short: It is good to see the Avengers back where they belong.


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