It can be tough to keep track of Marvel’s numerous Avengers relaunches, especially as they seem to be arriving more and more frequently. By my count, this is the fourth comic since 2010 to bear the name “The Avengers #1.” But at the end of the day, a great creative team and a great pitch are all a series needs to stay on track, and Marvel seems to have both with this latest incarnation of the series.

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The Avengers #1 builds directly on the backbone of last fall’s Marvel Legacy #1 one-shot, to the point where readers are probably better off making that book their starting point. Not that this issue isn’t perfectly accessible on its own, but it’s better to have that context for the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC and the threat currently facing the Marvel Universe. Especially given that the flashback elements are by far the most compelling element of the series at this early stage. Without them, this issue tells a pretty straightforward “getting the gang back together” story. But by opening with another glimpse of Odin and his team at the dawn of humanity, this series suddenly gains a much greater sense of scope.

Don’t expect too many surprises in this opening chapter, as Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness focus mostly on team-building and establishing the threat that is “The Final Host.” But what the series lacks in novelty it generally makes up for in personality. As usual, Aaron’s writing provides an effective balance of larger-than-life grandeur and goofiness. The new team roster is also shaping up nicely. There’s a whiff of Brian Bendis’ New Avengers about the book in the sense that Aaron is emphasizing a smaller, more eclectic cast. Each character has a distinct personality. And most are united by the fact that their respective superhero careers have seen better days. That goes especially for the core trinity of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, all of whom have suffered some major blows to the ego in recent years.

Visually, the series packs a strong punch right out of the gate. McGuinness can’t be beat when it comes to rendering clean, detailed, powerful figures. He also brings a great sense of scale to the more dramatic scenes, especially as the reformed Avengers confront their new enemy. The flashbacks do lose a bit of their impact relative to Marvel Legacy #1, as McGuinness and inker Mark Morales can’t replicate that ethereal, textured approach Esad Ribic does so well. Assuming these flashbacks will be a recurring element of the series, they might benefit from the rotating artist approach.

The good news is that colorist David Curiel helps distinguish between past and present and bring an added flavor to the series. Curiel’s colors give McGuinness’ art a slightly more moody and somber tone than usual. Curiel also shines when it comes to conveying the colorful displays of energy, be they Ghost Rider’s flames or the Celestials’ cosmic power.

The Verdict

The Avengers #1 doesn’t dramatically reinvent the wheel as far as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes go. This first issue follows a fairly predictable formula (outside of the opening flashback), but it does so in an effective and engaging way. Between the attractive visuals and the promising new lineup, The Avengers is shaping up to be a strong showcase for Marvel’s Fresh Start relaunch.



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