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Comic Book Review: Avengers Assemble (#1-8)

By: Adam Basciano

“A perfect jumping-on point, featuring the cast of the summer blockbuster – but
in Marvel Universe continuity! When the brand-new Zodiac rears its many heads,
the Avengers must assemble to combat them. But who is behind the group’s return?
None other than Thanos, the mad Titan, who has claimed Earth as his own! The
Avengers team up with cosmic blockbusters the Guardians of the Galaxy to bring
Thanos some cosmically-charged pain … but can even these two mighty teams stop
Thanos from making Earth into the throneworld of his new empire? This explosive
battle will change one of the Avengers’ lives.” (Marvel)

If you thought the film was action packed, then you’re going to love the first eight issues of Avengers Assemble.  This series launched to take advantage of the excitement for the feature film.  The book works as a new entry point for fans familiar with just the movie, as well as long time fans of the team.  While there are brief appearances by a broader group of Avengers, the main focus is on the core group in the film.  Certain bits of dialogue, the use of Thanos, and the heavy involvement of the cosmic cube, allow this comic book to act as a continuation of the film’s story line.  At the same time, certain references such as the Kree and Skrulls firmly set this in the comic book universe.  Writer Brian Michael Bendis does just enough to appease both sets of fans.

This book has great pacing.  Everything happens at breakneck speed.  By the end of issue 3, it’s revealed that Thanos is the big bad.  Bendis gives you good reason why Thanos is known as the Mad Titan.  I don’t want to spoil anything for new readers, but the procedures the government and The Avengers are willing to employ to stop him, give an amble indication of how threatened they are by Thanos.  The Guardians of the Galaxy make an appearance and while they contribute to some of the biggest action beats, we don’t get to know much about them other than names. Their appearance is nothing more than a plug for their upcoming Marvel Now book. Although, I will be checking that out.  My other complaint is the way The Hulk is written.  It’s quite inconsistent.  One minute he can put a decently coherent sentence together, the next he’s a one word wonder. Which is it Bendis?

I wasn’t a huge fan of Mark Bagley when he was at DC working on that god-awful weekly book “Trinity.”  His art just seems to fit the Marvel Universe so well. He’s great with the big destructive Hulk scenes.  Even the tired image of Hulk vs the army looks revitilized in Bagley’s hands!  He draws the Guardians of the Galaxy with enough uniqueness, befitting of their sci-fi roots. Thanos as drawn by Bagley is terrifyingly tall and terrifically menacing.  Mark Bagley definitely has a gift for drawing a splash page. My favourite being the image of The Avengers floating in space gasping for air.  His cover work was spot on over 8 issues, ranging from evocative and full of detail.

Avengers Assemble matches the fast paced action and adventure of the live action film it hopes to benefit from, but slightly lacks the overall heart and humor that made the film so great.

Overall Grade: 8/10

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