Review: The Avengers #12.1 By Brian Michael Bendis And Bryan Hitch

The Avengers #12.1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, and Paul Mounts

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, united against a common threat!

That’s the Avengers, although even if you’re a hardcore Marvel fan, I don’t blame you for turning to Avengers 12.1 for a helping hand. With so many roster changes and events in the past five years, I’ll concede it might be hard to find a true jumping on point. Marvel aims to fix that with its .1 issue initiative across it’s titles, and this week it’s The Avengers’ turn.

The Avengers are Captain America (that’s Bucky Barnes), Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wolverine, and Spider-Woman. Right there the lineup delivers – argue amongst your fellow comic shop patrons as hard as you want, but this is the first lineup in a while that truly is Marvel’s Mightiest Merchandising. This is a big league line up. Yes, including Spider-Woman. We know Spider-Woman is here because Bendis loves Spider-Woman, but I do too, I’m not going to complain.

We open with the lovely Spider-Woman, Agent Jessica Drew, investigating something when the creators (and I mean that, Bendis, Hitch, Neary, and Mounts pull together on this, and how often can you really say that about a book) punch you in the guy with the first double page splash. Spider-Woman vs Klaw, MODOK, Red Ghost and his apes, Wizard, Thinker…look, if that’s not the hook that hits you and makes you geek out, I don’t know what you want from The Avengers.

Cut to Agent Drew’s hander Agent Brand telling the Avengers (including Steve, Ms. Marvel, Thing, Iron Fist…are you appreciating this?) that she screwed up and maybe Agent Drew needs an exit strategy. Cut to Thor: “She is an Avenger. We take care of our own.”

And then at the end, Ultron is back. I’m not going to ruin the middle. And Ultron is a teaser for Age of Ultron. I don’t know what that is, but I’m going to add Avengers to my pull list right now.

Hitch and Neary deliver. While I enjoyed Hitch’s run on Fantastic Four, I daresay he hasn’t looked this good since the Ultimates. Or maybe I’m nostalgic. But Hitch’s gift is to turn superheroes into living, breathing realistic people, and it takes a concept like The Avengers to really drive that home. Neary’s inking is spot on, neither of them waste a single line.

Paul Mounts is on coloring duties, and that’s a surefire way to boost the visual fire of any artwork. Mounts does some amazing work here, working with Hitch to keep that trademark “realistic” style while, unlike Ultimates, making the Avengers “pop” as colorful, dynamic super heroes. Hitch and Neary may bring the weight and believability, but Mounts’ coloring reminds us that this isn’t a grim and gritty realistic title, this is The Avengers. Marvel’s flagship. It just works really well, I can’t put it simpler than that.

And Bendis has, for the first time in a while -and I’ve not enjoyed the past few years of Avengers as much as someone who loves the characters should- really pulled it together. There’s an energy to this book, in the pacing, the dialogue, the wit. This is Bendis at his best fanaticism. Bendis once said, “I cannot make everyone happy. What I can do is write a comic I would buy.” And I respect that. I’ve bought many of his books.

For the first time in a while, this is the Avengers book I would write and want to buy.

Tags: , , ,