The Avenegrs get their groove back.
Generally, the best Avengers teams are those brought together by circumstance. Way back at the beginning, Loki’s machinations compelled Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Giant-Man and Wasp to join forces for the first time. Decades later, a similarly eclectic band of heroes were brought together by fate in New Avengers #1. The latest incarnation of these series is cut very much from the same cloth. It’s building a compelling new team using the invasion of the Dark Celestials as a catalyst. And despite some concerns about the early course of the series, this new team is looking to be a promising successor to those that have come before.
Issue #2’s greatest success comes in solidifying the new team dynamic and justifying the various roster choices. There’s a real sense of satisfaction in seeing the core trinity of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor finally reunited, particularly with the way writer Jason Aaron plays on their long history together. The various other characters add depth and flavor to that familiar trinity. Captain Marvel’s self-assured manner is a counterpoint to the massive spectacle. She-Hulk’s savage, uncontrollable personality adds a fun new spin to the old Hulk formula. And Ghost Rider provides that crucial X-factor. Even with several key players absent, this new team is quickly beginning to gel.
The snazzy visuals go a long way toward setting the new series apart. Ed McGuinness bold, powerful pencils are an apt match for Aaron’s larger-than-life manner of storytelling. Even more so than in issue #1, McGuinness brings a massive sense of scope and drama to this battle. Inkers Mark Morales and Jay Leisten both ensure that there’s a precision to McGuinness’ lines. And colorist David Curiel heightens the unsettling mood and cosmic grandeur of the story. This art team is firing on all cylinders.
All of this largely makes up for the more disappointing elements of the series. As epic as this battle between Avengers and Dark Celestials is, the latter group is still a silent, generic band of Kirby-esque space gods. Apart from their physical size, there’s nothing terribly memorable or threatening about “The Final Host” yet. Aaron tries to spice up these villains by giving them a new mouthpiece, but that hinges on a reveal so obvious and predictable that the final twist falls completely flat.
It doesn’t help that this issue ignores the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC. Not only is that team the most compelling part of this new series right now, they’re the characters creating that crucial link between present and distant past and lending weight to the conflict. As strong as this new series is in many respects, it hasn’t been able to establish a story in line with its compelling cast of heroes.