Best Shots Reviews: MIDNIGHTER #12, PUNISHER #1, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #12, More

DC Comics May 2016 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics

The Best Shots team is back to offer their perspectives on this weeks top titles, including the final issue of Midnighter and the first issue of the relaunched Punisher. Up first, check out a review of Amazing Spider-Man #12 from yours truly!

Credit: Marvel Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #12
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith and Marte Gracia
Lettering by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Avengers? Who needs the Avengers when you’ve got Iron Man?

Despite its proud proclamations on the cover, Amazing Spider-Man #12 does not in fact have Peter Parker’s first-ever team-up with the All-New, All-Different Avengers, but Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli more than make up for the promotional slip-up with a story that deftly balances characterization, humor and action, proving that Tony Stark and Mary-Jane Watson are all the guest stars this superb issue ever needed.

Following this series’ first overarching story featuring Scorpio and the Zodiac, Slott brings things back down to Earth, heralding the return of a number of classic Spider-Man supporting cast members such as Harry Osborn and Mary-Jane Watson, and showing how they’ve fared during the era of Parker Industries. And despite Peter Parker’s billion-dollar bank account and ill-fitting rental tux, it’s these supporting castmates that make Amazing Spider-Man #12 feel like we’re coming home. As Harry, MJ and Peter banter over an unexpected reunion at a Parker Industries charity gala, Slott is in top form, particularly with Harry’s understated zingers. (“It’s not billions,” Harry says, overhearing how much Spider-Man is costing Parker Industries. “More like hundreds of millions.”) But it’s a testament to Slott that he’s able to quickly reintroduce all of these characters and make us care about them, whether it’s MJ and Peter’s obvious romantic tension or Harry’s quiet struggle to set the terms of his own future, even when his past as an Osborn keeps being thrown back in his face.

But the real show-stopping moments in this book are all about a certain cineplex superhero by the name of Tony Stark, who has a small indie movie coming out later this week. In a lot of ways, Amazing Spider-Man #12 reminds me of Matt Fraction’s Iron Man/Spider-Man team-up all the way back in 2008’s Invincible Iron Man #7 — and I say that as a big compliment. From Tony’s subtle snideness to Peter as a corporate rival to a truly thrilling page showing the two heroes both suiting up for battle, this is one awesome team-up. But more importantly, it’s also funny. There’s a trend these days in “funny” comics of quantity over quality — throwing as many half-hearted gags as they can against a wall and praying something sticks — but that’s not the case here. Slott channels the Parker Patter against the Robert Downey Jr.-style Tony Snark, and by having the corporate saboteur known as the Ghost playing the straight man for their verbal jousting (“Are you two for real?” he asks, as Spidey and Shellhead bicker over who is going to take the bad guy down). Even the post-fight rivalry is great, with the latest scuff mark on Peter Parker’s dignity being one of the funniest things to happen to Spider-Man since the time he let loose a snot-filled sneeze with his mask still on.

With all these great character moments and action scenes, Slott also gives Giuseppe Camuncoli a lot to work with. Given how much dialogue takes place in the first half of this book, it’s a real testament to Camuncoli that he handles those scenes with such grace, showing the shock in Peter’s eyes when his ex-girlfriend shows up to one of his events, or the smirk on Harry’s face as he throws a little bit of shade at notorious himbo Tony Stark. But Camuncoli’s greatest strength has always been how fluid and dynamic his action sequences look, and working with inker Cam Smith has only enhanced that quality — in particular, the detail work here looks great, and I love the contrast of Spider-Man’s suit flowing on Peter like a liquid, while Tony’s suit comes together as almost polygonal chips. Ultimately, though, given that this is a story that’s sold more on the dialogue than on the slick action beats, Camuncoli’s biggest gift to Slott is that he maintain’s the clarity of this talky comic, not reinventing the wheel but instead serving as a solid and sturdy platform for the story to rest upon. Colorist Marte Gracia, meanwhile, smartly keeps readers focused on where they need to be, oftentimes leaving backgrounds in more washed-out browns and greens, while highlighting secondary characters in bold blues and purples, leaving the full colors only for the most important people in a scene. It’s a great trick, and one that really enhances the overall readability of the product — even if you didn’t have Chris Eliopoulos’ lettering to guide you, you’d be able to know what happened in this book.

While there’s a tiny bit of slowdown when Slott has to introduce Augustus Roman — preparing for the return of Regent following his villainous turn in Secret Wars — there’s more than a spoonful of sugar elsewhere to help this medicine go down. And given that the cover doesn’t actually reflect the contents of this book, that’s usually the kiss of death for a comic — but it’s a real credit to this book’s creative team that I don’t feel cheated, but instead am glad we had this time to just focus on Tony and Peter’s dynamic before opening things up to the rest of Shellhead's Avengers team. If you’re looking for something to whet your appetite before Civil War hits theaters, you can’t do much better than this.

Credit: DC Comics

Midnighter #12
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by ACO, Hugo Petrus, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Tom Napolitano
Published by DC Comics
Review by C.K. Stewart
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Steve Orlando and ACO’s run on Midnighter has been a wild ride from the start to its incredible finish in Midnighter #12. Whatever the future holds for M, Orlando has done a stellar job wrapping up both Midnighter’s second arc and trailing threads from the earliest issues. Midnighter #12 is a bloody, snarky, touching end to an underdog series whose absence has been sorely felt by its fans amongst the upcoming roster of Rebirth books. For those who may have missed the chance to follow the series month-to-month, don’t be sour — Midnighter will be just as powerful and, perhaps, more impactful in trade form, showcasing Orlando’s skill as a storyteller against the gorgeous, if sometimes gruesome, backdrop of ACO’s art.

Midnighter #12 brings us full circle with issue one as Henry Bendix’s creation The Unified faces off against his prototypes Apollo and Midnighter with Spyral amidst the burning streets of Modora, home country of the terrorists whose attack on civilians interrupted our first dinner date with Midnighter a year ago. Between Spyral versus the Suicide Squad, Waller versus Bendix, and the wildly destructive battle with The Unified, Midnighter #12 is packed with narrative threads that could swiftly have become too tangled to make for an enjoyable read.

But Orlando and the artists — ACO and Hugo Petrus, continuing their tag-team efforts from earlier issues featuring the Suicide Squad — do an impressive job laying out this issue in a way that highlights the action without overwhelming the emotionally fraught conversations happening against it. Impressive wide shots offer some breathing room, showing the scope of how decimated the battle is leaving the city as a whole, while smaller panels closer to the margins keep the action moving in manageable bites with close-ups on faces or hand-to-hand combat.

Tom Napolitano’s lettering is dramatic and impactful, exaggerated at times in a way fitting of the over-the-top nature of a pulpy action book like Midnighter. Romulo Fajardo, Jr.’s colors are stunning throughout, using the oranges and yellows of the fires lit throughout the city to cast all of the scenes in Modora with a morbid glow. Midnighter’s final moments with The Unified are some of the most visually stunning of the run and encapsulate the best of what ACO has brought to the book: his style is perfectly suited to The Unified’s bloody, vicious end, elevated into something almost supernatural by Fajardo’s arresting color work.

Midnighter #12 marks the end of what has clearly been a labor of love for its creative team. It has been a consistently great run, both artistically and narratively. Orlando reinvented Midnighter for new readers while capturing the spirit of what made him a stand-out character in his older solo run and as a member of The Authority. This issue feels like a natural and logical conclusion to M’s adventures over the last twelve issues. His new friendships and the resolution he finds for his relationship with Andrew (Apollo) feel authentic and real. The return of supporting characters delivers an emotional punch no matter how brief their appearance if only because it offers proof of Midnighter/Lucas Trent’s progress from someone whose life was defined solely by who he was made to be into someone who allows himself to be defined by and to grow through, at least in part, his relationships to other people.

With Midnighter, Orlando set out to offer a fresh perspective on an established character that gave readers a hero who was unapologetically confident in the person he was -- snarky, violent, and definitively out. As a comic, regardless of demographics, this book has been impressive from start to finish. To follow Midnighter through not just his superheroic adventures chasing the stolen goods of the God Garden but through his relationships and his efforts to discover or define the truth of who Lucas Trent and Midnighter really are has been a delight. To have the opportunity to see an openly gay character like Midnighter navigating both platonic and romantic relationships throughout the course of a twelve-issue run has been a truly groundbreaking experience in recent DC Comics history.

Midnighter #12 suggests the potential for more stories to come, which is a relief despite the character’s uncertain future in the Rebirth universe. Regardless of what we see of him in the future — maybe in a future Suicide Squad run, which Orlando’s writing of Amanda Waller in this issue may suddenly have you craving — Midnighter was a standout amongst the DCYou titles and Orlando and ACO have given us twelve issues that will hold up to countless rereadings in the future. A little romance, a lot of humor, and buckets of blood later, Midnighter #12 provides all the closure we needed for this stand-out series. So long for now, Midnighter, and thanks for all the fights.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Spider-Gwen #8
Written by Jason Latour
Art by Bengal and Rico Renzi
Lettering by Clayton Cowles and Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Joey Edsall
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

The Spider-Women crossover has been a mixed bag. Despite consistently giving great character moments between the three titular superheroes, it took a while to give them something of urgency to accomplish. Luckily, Spider-Gwen #8 does just that. When Jason Latour's perpetually rising stakes, Bengal's exceptional artwork, and Rico Renzi's understanding of Spider-Gwen’s unique palette all work in tandem, the result is a strikingly cohesive comic book – one which is the best that the crossover has yet to offer.

The story manages to do something that crossovers often struggle with. It is able to use what readers come to understand as Spider-Gwen, in terms of narrative and art, to tell a story that is for the first two acts largely about Silk, but framed in a way that it develops Gwen Stacy's character. Gwen's narration follows Cindy Moon as she discovers that the evil spy Cindy Moon from Earth-65 (Cindy-65) has been ruining Cindy's name by stealing weapons and technology in broad daylight. Gwen comes to realize just how much Cindy has lost by being a Spider-Woman – from her youth in the bunker to her good name in the present. The narration, story, and art all coalesce in a striking frame where Gwen takes off her mask for a facial-recognition scan at the Baxter Building while realizing that "…the longer I'm Spider-Woman… the more I stand to lose." It's a good piece of character work that places her in the perfect mental state for when the comic concludes, implying that Cindy-65, the chaotic architect of Gwen's spider-bite, takes away her powers. While Cindy-65's motivations as a villain are a little difficult to follow if you examine them closely, they work well enough and put the story where it needs to be.

Jason Latour's Gwen Stacy is the best Gwen Stacy. Dennis Hopeless's was solid, Robbie Thompson's was irritating, but Latour is able to craft the character with equal parts snark and likability, which is a delicate balance to maintain. She and Cindy Moon both just bounce off one another effortlessly. Several subtle touches help solidify the complicated character that Cindy is. Her desk is filled with a Little Mermaid figurine, Pikachu keychain, and an old Gameboy. Cindy, despite how often she can be jovial, is in many ways tragic because of the thirteen years that she lost of her life. Previous issues have explored this, with a noteworthy example being the ball pit sequence from Spider-Women Alpha #1. Having and enjoying these various aspects of culture traditionally marketed toward youth doesn't on its own make Cindy tragic, but when combined with the backstory of her time spent in a bunker and Gwen's narration about fleeting happiness, the inherent sadness of it all is difficult to ignore.

Bengal's art is exceptional, and only improves as the issue goes on. The action shots of both Spider-Gwen and Silk are dynamic and fluid, with a sleekness to it that contributes to how quickly the story comes together in the end of the issue. The coloring of Spider-Gwen has contributed as much to the overall aesthetic of the series as the artwork, and Rico Renzi's clear understanding and use of vivid colors in moderation continues in this tradition. Bengal's art is great, but Renzi's coloring elevates the panels to exceptional.

While it is somewhat unfair to bemoan the absence of a character or plot element when reviewing a comic, Jessica Drew's absence is conspicuous. From a narrative standpoint, I'm not sure that there would have been any room for her, as we are advancing Gwen Stacy and Cindy Moon's characters substantially, as well as solidifying Spider-Women’s antagonist as a legitimate threat. Throw in a Gwen Stacy/Cindy-65 backstory flashback sequence and I really don't see how or where Latour could have inserted Jessica Drew without taking away from what works so well in the story. I do hope that she has a more important role in the final issues of the story, as her single mom status and recent characterization has made her one of the most interesting characters of 2016. Additionally, while Bengal's art is generally fantastic throughout the issue, there is a close-up of Gwen early on that is off-putting, with her hands looking like they belong to another character entirely, and J. Jonah Jameson's design looks strange and childlike.

But that is all criticism of a very solid comic book. It took a while for Spider-Women to find a narrative footing, but it picked up by the end of last month. With the new month of stories upon us, the story is breaking out into a sprint. Everything is set up for an exciting conflict and internal character struggles to explode into one another. It's going to be very exciting to see where this goes throughout May.

Credit: DC Comics

Green Arrow #52
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Szymon Kudranski and Gabe Eltaeb
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

The entire New 52 was an origin story for Ollie’s beard. In the final issue of a five-year run, it all seems so obvious: the international sexual escapades with triplets under Ann Nocenti, the beautifully crafted origin retcon by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, and the gradual turning of Green Arrow into a werewolf were all in pursuit of a more hirsute hero. As DC’s great experiment gives way to Rebirth, the last chapter in Benjamin Percy’s complicated horror story has managed to manoeuvre Oliver Queen back into at least a physical stature that resembles his pre-Flashpoint persona. Even so, the final issue of Green Arrow under the New 52 banner recognizes the brand damage that has been done in that time, and vainly struggles to repair some of it.

Early in the issue, Ollie comments to Emiko that he feels like “an old man that’s broken through the seams of a young man costume… I made it through the thresher.” Percy is no doubt speaking to the audience, as anyone who has made it this far into the Green Arrow saga that restarted in 2011 has experienced a similar set of tumultuous emotions. Percy consciously makes this issue about the politics that have been so closely associated with the character since the late 1960s, as a camp full of virus sufferers rise up against their harsh treatment. It’s not a hard stretch to relate this to the current global conversation on refugees and asylum seekers in detention, and the vampiric old man who seeks the miracle cure at the expense of the masses is an easy analogue for the One Percent.

Percy wraps up many of the story threads that he started in his tenure, covering the prison riot, a miniature character arc for Deathstroke, and a resolution to Oliver’s ongoing battles with the Lukos virus. Yet it’s also incredibly rushed, racing towards a finish line that has been arbitrarily placed in front of him. In the end, there are simply too many things happening at once to receive a satisfying conclusion to any one thread, and the last ten pages lurch from one scenario to the next at a pace that is barely coherent at times. In the midst of the simultaneous conflict between the Wargs and the struggle for their cure, the presence of the classic villain Deathstroke, for the handful of panels that he appears in, is almost entirely perfunctory.

Szymon Kudranski has been a terrific stylistic companion to predecessor Patrick Zircher. While the pacing may be disconcerting on the riot, it is dynamically rendered and coupled with the consistent shadows Gabe Eltaeb has lent to the rest of the action. Emiko is the only character that struggles throughout the issue, occasionally depicted as though she has wandered in from a neighboring anime. Prior to the heroic shot on the final page, Kudranski treats us to almost four pages of wordless action, a chaotic grindhouse of explosive imagery and trick arrows. However, the most satisfying moment comes a mere three pages into the issue, as Kudranski presents a rebirthed Green Arrow, standing in a costume Percy had been reluctant to use in the first half of his series, looking for all the world like the character that has 75 years worth of history behind him.

There is a glimmer of optimism that edges into this bookend chapter. After all, the issue begins with a literal rebirth, and mostly concerns Ollie’s hope that the world can benefit from Doctor Miracle’s cure. It’s not the first time in the last five years that we’ve been led to believe the title can change for the better, but even in this super compressed format, it is one of the most hopeful arguments to date. Percy is the solicited writer for the post-Rebirth issues of Green Arrow, so maybe he has simply pushed Oliver Queen into the direction that he would like to see him take in the next part of his story. For now, the New 52 version of Green Arrow ends with some of the same uncertainties that it began with, but for the first time in half a decade, it does so with a target placed firmly in front of it, a less scattered sense of character, and more importantly, a beard on its face.

Credit: Marvel Comics

The Punisher #1
Written by Becky Cloonan
Art by Steve Dillon and Frank Martin
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

"$%#@ me. It's Frank Castle.”

Oh, $%#@, indeed. It makes sense with the bountiful amount of corporate synergy in the Marvel offices these days, that there would be a new Punisher series. With the announcement of a spin-off show in the and his appearance on Daredevil, Frank Castle is back in the blood-splattered spotlight, and the timing couldn't be more perfect for the Punisher to make a comeback in the comics, as well.

While not entirely breaking new ground here with Punisher taking out a drug bust, it's how it all went down that has to be admired. Cloonan is the first woman, as far as I know, that has taken the reins of the revenge-driven machine of a man, so that's historic is its own right. The thing here though is that Cloonan treats Castle like a force of nature. No dialogue, no caption boxes, no mercy. Castle as the Punisher is the wrath of God strapped with heavy artillery, taking out anybody that would threaten to poison his home. That's what he does, right? That's what he's been doing for decades. But here, it's more of how he affects those around him. The DEA want to bring in the drug lords and make a case against the organization called Condor. With Castle turning the scene into his personal shooting gallery, that complicates things, but makes himself known in the process.

Along for the ride is Steve Dillon, who brings some old-school flavor to this bloodbath. Dillon, along with Garth Ennis, helped shape the Punisher for a generation, and it's almost like he never left. Dillon composes Frank with such calculation, and there's something about his facial expressions — everything is so broken about this man. He's not handsome like Thomas Jane or any other Marvel hero. He's like a walking wound that refuses to heal. The only smoothness Dillon adds to this world is how he handles DEA Agent Ortiz, who also happens to the be only woman in the book.

The way the panels are laid out, it feels very reminiscent of a gritty ’70s noir thriller, with good guys, bad guys, and people in between. Again, there’s nothing here that reinvents the wheel, but it doesn't need to. It works just fine how it is. Frank Martin's colors reminds me of how how Laura Martin treated Cully Hamner's colors back in the day for Black Lightning: Year One. It's dense, but bright and scaled back. Every ounce of Dillon's over-the-top violence is handled just a way that you can see the thickness of the blood, but doesn't take away from the linework.

There's absolutely room to grow and improve here. While you have to admire some of the dialog, as cliche it might be in some places, it might go over the head of some readers who are uninitiated with what exactly a Walsh Trophy is (it's a Marine Pistol Championship badge), even though it's that level of attention to Castle's other life that makes this feel so tangible. Cloonan, Dillon and Martin have given Castle another day to punish those who have it coming. It will be interesting to see how long Punisher is treated as this silent killer. A man void of heavy narration or guilt, but calculating and precise in how he chooses to end his victims. It’s a bold choice that I'm sure the art team will get a lot of milage out of.

Legend #1
Legend #1
Credit: Z2 Comics

Legend #1
Written and Lettered by Sam Sattin
Art by Chris Koehler
Published by Z2 Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

“Trusting anyone but dogs is hard these days…”

Like a fever dream mashup of Frazer Irving’s artwork covering Beasts of Burden, Z2 Comics’ Legend proves you don’t have to have a well-known pedigree to be the best in show. Told from the perspective of a group of dogs following an unknown post-apocalyptic event, Legend is a book that goes a long way based on its moodiness and atmosphere, as artist Chris Koehler sells writer Sam Sattin’s script for all its worth in this spooky but soulful debut.

“Gather round, sad ones, for today we mourn. Try not to be afraid.” From the very first page, Legend is an impressive read, thanks in no small part to Koehler’s establishing shots, showing a shadowy, tattered cityscape punctuated by jagged silhouettes, streaks of fearsome lightning and broken highways that look like spilled entrails. In many ways, however, Koehler’s apocalypse is a surprisingly subtle one, because the sheer damage to the city feels negligible — instead, this just feels like a heightened version of everyday urban decay, complete with with the packs of crows and dogs hiding in the nooks and crannies.

But once Sattin and Koehler set the stage, they wind up spinning a supernatural, almost religious sort of story, as the titular pack of dogs have both advanced and regressed as a society. Legend, our titular hero, is but one of many canines who have survived this urban wasteland, and winds up being the center of a tale that almost reads akin to a murder mystery — there’s something stalking the shadows of the city, something fierce and full of teeth, and it’s claimed the life of the pack’s leader, Ransom, who they called their Sunheart. But thanks to the eerie premonitions of their milky-eyed oracle, readers will be immediately hooked into this universe, as they use the bones of a long-dead crow to divine their next steps. The bones whisper, the Elder claims — and this bleak world whispers along with them.

If there are any hiccups to this release, it’s elements that will assuredly be ironed out as the series continues. For example, occasionally Koehler’s dogs can look a little similar, a rare drawback to his otherwise beautiful monochromatic coloring, and there are a few moments — such as a cremation using scavenged “cat technology” — that may pull readers out of an otherwise beautiful moment as they wonder what’s going on. And like I said before, the actual apocalypse of this story feels almost understated — if you aren’t paying much attention, this could be very well be going on in the present day, which part of me almost believes might have made for an even more powerful story. Regardless of these quibbles, however, Legend is a strong showing from a pair of creators who definitely deserve to be on your radar. With art this good, these dogs are already having their day.

Trade Review!

All-New All-DIfferent Avengers Vol. 1
All-New All-DIfferent Avengers Vol. 1
Credit: Marvel Comics

All-New All-Different Avengers Vol. 1 TPB
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Adam Kubert, Sonia Oback, Mahmud Asrar, Frank Martin, and Dave McCaig
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

A few months back, I theorized that All-New All-Different Avengers would work better as a trade, as it suffered from the same team building pitfall that a lot of team books do as a monthly release. Thankfully I found my hypothesis correct as I read All-New All-Different Avengers, Vol. 1. Cheekily subtitled The Magnificent Seven and collecting the first six issues of the Mark Waid penned team title, along with the zero issue and the Free Comic Book Day preview, this volume reads like a much more polished story and fills in the important gaps for readers that may have missed the key plot points that were buried in the zero issue and Free Comic Book Day offering. While still not perfect by any stretch, All-New All-Different Avengers, Vol. 1 streamlines the newest incarnation of Marvel’s A-team and delivers their first adventure in a tight, entertaining package.

It is a new dawn for the Marvel universe. Sam Wilson holds the shield. Tony Stark has found himself without his limitless resources. But, most importantly, there isn’t an active team of heroes operating under the Avengers moniker. Of course, it doesn’t take long for a threat that no single hero could face alone to rear its ugly head and therein lies the rub for the rise of the All-New All-Different. By now, you will at least be somewhat familiar with this team’s first two big scraps, the first against the rampaging Chitauri Warbringer and the second against a time fractured Kang, who is revealed to be the puppet master behind Warbringer as well as the Vision’s heel turn during their final, arc ending tussle with this version of the Conqueror.

But while these stories as a monthly frustrated with their sluggish waits for the team to finally gel and assemble properly, this first volume enhances the dramatics and the tension as the first two three issue arcs read as a much better as complete collection. This is due in large part thanks to the inclusion of the Free Comic Book Day issue and the zero issue, both of which provide key bits of information like the reason for the Vision’s emotion purge and as well as explanation for Radioactive Man’s head scratching inclusion in the finale issue, beyond a throwaway editor’s note.

Mark Waid’s character first approach to this new team also is bolstered by this collection as we aren’t having to sit on our hands and wait for the next issue to see this team put aside their differences and just get to the actual avenging. Waid’s new A-listers banter, bicker and ultimately soar as these six issues build to a rousing and pretty crazy final battle with Kang that finally solidifies their status as the new standard bearers and a jolt of youthful and progressive feeling energy for a title that spent too much time being the ponderous hard sci-fi team of the Hickman era. Though the time paradox antics of the sixth issue still don’t quite land as well as Waid might want them it, to and the first arc is still marred by the wheel-spinning infighting between heroes as well a cheap “Avenger No More” fake-out with Ms. Marvel and Nova, All-New All-Different Avengers, Vol. 1 allows readers the luxury of binging through the stuff that doesn’t work in order to fully hammer home the stuff that does without being dragged down by the deficit of waiting weeks before the next issue.

While this collection finally allows Waid’s story and team to gel properly, it also gives readers and interesting visual dichotomy between the rough pencils of Adam Kubert and the smooth style of Mahmud Asrar. While both styles are made even better by the trio of richly talented colorists, Sonia Obeck, Frank Martin and Dave McCaig, the jarring yet interesting pairing of Kubert and Asrar hammer home the theme of volatility in the fledgling team of the first three issues and the triumph of their eventual victory over Kang and their coming together as a full tilt Avenger squad in the final three. I am a real sucker for that kind of explicit visual storytelling and All-New All-Different Avengers, Vol. 1 gives us a fantastic transition between the rough pencils of Kubert and the wild colors of Obeck and the smooth emotive panels of Asrar and the vibrant colors of McCaig that highlight the growth of the team and the title as a whole.

Though I can’t recommend a double dip for those die-hard Marvelites that kept All-New All-Different Avengers on their pull list from the start, I can happily state that those that were frustrated like me at the title’s fits and starts will find those frustrations eased thanks to this collection. Mark Waid’s new team benefits greatly from this collected format and even the elements of the story that don’t work are shown in a new positive light thanks to the ability to simply keep reading and not having to ruminate on them. Along with dynamic visual storytelling and bold colors, All-New All-Different Avengers, Vol. 1 stands as an entertaining and solid first collection for Marvel’s new premier super team.

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