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Review: ‘All-New, All-Different Avengers Vol. 1: The Magnificent Seven’

All New All Different Avengers 1All-New, All-Different Avengers Vol. 1: The Magnificent Seven
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Mahmud Asra and Adam Kubert
Marvel Entertainment; $19.99
Rated T+

The title of the current flagship Avengers comic may be a mouthful, but it could probably do with one more word if it was going for total accuracy: “Almost.” That’s because almost every member of the seven-hero roster is either all-new, all-different or both. The only long-time Avengers on the team are Iron Man Tony Stark and The Vision, while the rest are either the new versions of older characters, like Captain America Sam “The Falcon” Wilson and Thor Jane Foster, or teenage legacy characters, like the latest version of Nova and YA favorites Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan and Spider-Man Miles Morales (the latter of whom just graduated from Marvel’s now defunct Ultimate imprint to the regular Marvel Universe).

The various levels of experience and fan familiarity of these assembled Avengers provides plenty of built-in friction for dramatic potential. There are four grown-ups and three kids, and those kids all have different attitudes about superhero-ing in general. The new versions of old Avengers additionally provide all sorts of new dramatic possibilities, from Iron Man suddenly being the senior Avenger to Captain America and Thor now being able to strike up a romance with one another, something you wouldn’t have ever seen between original versions.

There’s also a fair degree of aesthetic friction to the book, between Alex Ross’s painted covers giving the new team the iconic gravitas that Ross’s style always imbues in superheroes and the interior artists’ lighter touch and more dynamic style.

Those artists are Mahumud Asrar, who draws the bulk of the 170-page trade, and Adam Kubert, who draws about 60 pages of the proceedings. The two have similar enough styles that the book flows quite well, but Asrar in particular excels at smooth, clean, kinetic art that is perfect for this sort of fast-paced story that stops just long enough to introduce characterization and conflict to the characters. Combined with Ross’s occasional portraits, the team feels almost automatically legit.

Writer Mark Waid apparently took inspiration for the plotting of this first story arc from the old introduction to Avengers comics of the 1970s: “And there came a day, a day unlike any other, where Earth’s mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat!” Just as that was used to describe how the first Avengers team originally came about, it applies here, as these seven heroes all sort of just stumble into one another on a particular day, finding themselves united rather than uniting on purpose. Given all the Avengers line-ups in all of the Avengers books over the last decade or so, there’s an old-fashioned, even casual feel to this team’s coming together. It’s not destiny or conspiracy; it’s closer to coincidence.

The new Captain America runs into Iron Man and together they follow the sound of an explosion to where Spider-Man has encountered an alien menace. The Vision similarly arrives on scene. Meanwhile, Ms. Marvel and Nova meet each other in Jersey City, in what is an awesomely awkward team-up that perfectly captures the social anxiety of being a teenager, and their paths cross with those of the others. Finally, when the battle gets big enough, in swoops the new Thor, and that’s how these things happen in crowded superhero universes: The arrival of a single alien warlord can quickly snowball into an all-new superhero team.

The conflict involves a Chitauri warrior (those are the bad guys from the first Avengers movie, which the climax of the first few issues deliberately echoes) and a classic Avengers foe in a slightly different form, but the real fun is simply watching so many characters getting to know one another for the first time.

Waid pulls off a pretty great balancing act here, in putting together a plot that feels like a classic Avengers story while marrying it to a cast that is anything but classic. Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel may have had their own books for years now, but this is the first time they’re interacting with the Marvel universe at such a big and sustained scale. And if you’re a fan of either of their books, or any of the characters that make up this line-up, then chances are you’ll like this ongoing team-up as well.

Additionally, Waid manages to preserve what’s most likeable and most noteworthy about each of the characters, not letting any of them overpower each other in his story, or letting the plot smother them.

Which points to another way in which this Avengers comic book is (almost) all-different: It’s an all-around more accessible, more new-reader friendly, more character-focused, all-ages adventure comic than the last few runs on Avengers comics have been.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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