It’s a double shot of Marvel this week, as a new team of Avengers assembles in Avengers, and Thor tries to prove he is worthy once more in Unworthy Thor!
Avengers #1 (Marvel Comics)
Like with any Marvel relaunch, we’re getting a new Avengers series. With the aftermath of Civil War II (which no, still hasn’t finished), Earth’s Mightiest Heroes needed a roster change, bringing in Hercules, Spider-Man, and Wasp onto the team, as well as new artist Mike Del Mundo. Thankfully Mark Waid has remained on hand to turn his former “All-New All-Different” team into a team of just “Avengers”, and with this being the start of the “Kang Wars”, it seems that we’re into some pretty interesting territory, even though the art doesn’t quite gel with what we’re used to.
Like many opening Avengers issues, Avengers #1 is very much an “assembling the team issue”. However, Mark Waid is able to present this well-worn trope in an entertaining way, and our two newest members, Hercules and Spider-Man, join the team pretty organically. Waid also has some fresh and interesting ideas when it comes to Kang the Conqueror, who is now after the Vision for stealing his past self (yes, it’s weird). Any use of Kang is grounds for a headache, but for the most part Waid is able to use the character in a pretty straightforward way, despite the fact that this issue features the villain teaming up with the different parallel versions of himself. Really the only negative about the use of Kang here is that his plot is very heavily tied into events from All-New All Different Avengers, so this new #1 isn’t as new-reader friendly as one would hope. It’s also a little frustrating that there are vague references to the end of Civil War II throughout the issue, but as I said in my Infamous Iron Man review, that’s pretty much par for the course with Marvel at this point.
Artist Mike Del Mundo has a very distinct style, and I’m not sure this book is the best fit for it. There are some dynamic panels and layouts in this issue to be sure, but Del Mundo’s exaggerated facial expressions end up making some characters look like Claymation versions of themselves. It’s a very hard style to pin down, and this is one of the first times that I’ve gone back and forth in my opinion on an artist on a page-by-page basis. This is easily one of the weirdest artist pairings I’ve seen on a book this year. It’s like putting a square peg in a round hole. Del Mundo’s art looks great in books like Weirdworld, but on a team book like Avengers it doesn’t work at all.
Despite this, Avengers #1 is a pretty solid continuation of what Waid was working on in All-New All-Different Avengers, and it seems like this series is going to have more a focus than series had. But it makes you wonder how long this version of the team will last. I felt like we barely had enough time with the All-New All-Different team for their break up to matter. Now that we have another new team, how long will they stick around? A year? Six Months? Or will this have an even quicker turn around? If this doesn’t bother you (and you don’t mind spending $5), then Avengers will definitely fit the superhero team bill, and if you can look past the weird art, there are plenty of great character interactions in the script. But at the same time, it doesn’t seem like it’ll have any lasting impact, which is one of Marvel’s current problems at the moment. It feels less like a natural place to take the team and more like a “let’s put Spider-man on it again and put Hercules in it just because” mandate. With Mark Waid writing, it’s at least entertaining, but I wouldn’t hold your breath for this team to last long enough to leave an impact.
Unworthy Thor #1 (Marvel Comics)
Jason Aaron’s Thor saga has been one long and winding road, and this week brings the latest chapter of that run with Unworthy Thor. While the main Thor series has been focused on Jane Foster’s Goddess of Thunder, Unworthy Thor is finally going to delve into the adventures of the Odinson, and reveal where he’s been during Jane’s adventures. Teamed up with Olivier Coipel, it’s easy to see why Unworthy Thor has been so eagerly anticipated, and it’s a relief that it’s ended up being one of the strongest Marvel Now titles.
First up: no, you will not find out what Nick Fury said to Thor way back in Original Sin (remember that event? Seems so long ago now). However, Jason Aaron’s opening issue does delve into the mindset of the Odinson, who’s on a quest to restore his worthiness by any means necessary. Currently spending his days drinking mead and wandering the universe on his goat, Toothgnasher, Thor has taken up getting into brawls with Trolls to pass the time. Jason Aaron does such a great job presenting Thor at his lowest that when he learns of another hammer in the ruins of Asgard, you want him to do whatever it takes to get it. When you add in the fact that this hammer is the Mjolnir from the now defunct Ultimate Universe, it adds a whole new layer of mystery to the story that Aaron has been building for years.
Olivier Coipel was born to draw trolls. After this issue, it’s clear that Marvel made the right choice to have Coipel pencil this miniseries, and he brings the sense of scope and grandeur needed for this kind of series. Coipel is able to bring even the most ridiculous aspects of Norse Mythology to life in a really cool way, and his depiction of a surprise Thor character towards the end of the issue is too awesome for words.
Unworthy Thor is easily the strongest of the new Marvel Now titles, and much of that has to do with the fact that it is the complete opposite of what Marvel’s yearly #1’s are trying to do. Jason Aaron’s miniseries is steeped in his prior runs on the character, and requires an understanding of events that have happened to the Odinson before he reached this point. While there’s no appearance from Jane Foster’s Thor yet, she’s definitely mentioned a lot throughout the issue, and there’s a huge sense that this is just the next installment in a bigger run that Jason Aaron has planned. Yet despite being part of a larger whole, Unworthy Thor works as an entertaining and tantalizing taste of what Jason Aaron has been doing in this corner of the Marvel universe. The hype surrounding his run has died down a lot, but that hasn’t stopped Jason Aaron from crafting some incredibly entertaining comics, and all signs are pointing to Unworthy Thor being just as good as his other work on the character.