Saturday, January 23, 2016

All-New, All-Different Avengers #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Let's just dive right into it, just like Waid does.  (Seriously, I can't believe I'm reading Waid on an "Avengers" title.  Fangasm!)

The issue starts with Cap saving a family in a car knocked off a bridge, but he's then confronted by a worse threat when he lands:  a group of Girl Scouts wanting him to buy cookies and people recording him as he decides which Scout to choose.  Thankfully, Tony Stark happened to be in the traffic jam that caused the accident in the first place.  Sam calls to him to get money to buy cookies from all the Scouts.  Unfortunately, Tony doesn't have cash on him.  (Of course, he doesn't.)  So, Sam uses him as a distraction by getting him to take photos with the troop.  If you're not reading "Captain America:  Sam Wilson" (and you should be), Sam explains that this episode is just another example of people trying to find a racial motivation in every decision that he makes.  (The people on the bridge were waiting to see if he chose the African-American Scout.)  I loved that Waid showed that he's paying attention to the Avengers' solo books with this segment.  In the last ten or 15 years, the various "Avengers" authors might've paid attention to costume or power changes, but we rarely got such a clear nod to the events happening in the Avengers' lives outside the team.  It hearkens to the stories of the 1980s and 1990s, and I'm already a happy camper.

Along those lines, we learn that Tony has been forced to sell Avengers Tower, after Stark Industries suffered during his six months in space.  It makes Sam realize that the Avengers don't really exist right now, since no one really believes that it's Sunspot's "New Avengers" and Steve's team is technically the Unity Squad.  Meanwhile, someone that might be Loki has bought Avengers Tower, and he's on hand when a Chitauri warrior arrives through a portal to get vengeance on Nova for defeating him in an earlier battle.  (Thanks, editor's note!)  Maybe-Loki informs him that he could instead conquer the Earth by assembling a powerful weapon that a previous Chitauri warrior split it into three pieces and hid on Earth.  As he makes this comment, Maybe-Loki realizes that Miles Morales (or "Trademark-Infringement Kid," as Tony calls him) is eavesdropping, since he had noticed the energy flash when the Chitauri warrior arrived.  He hurls Miles from the building, catching Sam and Tony's attention.  The three enter the building to take on the alien, but he manages to render them unconscious with one blast.  He the announces that Earth will belong to him by sunset.

The strength of this story is the relationships between the characters, exactly what I'd expect from Waid.  He makes it clear that Sam and Tony have known each other for a long time, giving them a playfully antagonistic relationship that I can totally see forming the heart of the team and the fun that this series will be.  It's also one that we apparently will see replicated with Ms. Marvel and Nova, based on the adorable back-up story where they first meet.  Seriously, I don't like Sam, but I have never felt more transported to my awkward adolescence than reading the two of them trying to act cool around the other one.  The constant anxiety that you're screwing up the conversation, the eventual resorting to dramatic actions to compensate for said awkwardness, the overwhelming need to connect with the other person:  Waid should consider writing young-adult novels, he gets teenagers' voices so well. Moreover, Miles easily slips into a junior-but-respected position here; you can tell that Tony is going to take a shine to him.

In other words, we're not necessarily assembled at this point, but we're on the road there, and I am really exited to get to that moment.  If Waid has made me even like Nova, he's going to do great things with the Avengers.

*** (three of five stars)

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