Great Lakes Avengers #1
Written by Zac Gorman
Art by Will Robson and Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The Great Lakes Avengers - Marvel’s loneliest, most pitiable superteam. With a Z-list lineup that makes D-Man look like… well, Darkhawk, I guess, the GLA have always been a gag, a punchline, a dumb footnote in the grand storytelling tapestry of the Marvel Universe.
And that’s not to say that Great Lakes Avengers #1 is going to change that. Because it definitely won’t. (They can’t even get Squirrel Girl to return their calls, now that she’s an A-lister.) But Zac Gorman and Will Robson lean into the GLA’s status as a cavalcade of super-losers and deliver a very funny, very amusing look at these would-be heroes, surprisingly becoming one of the best Marvel books of the week.
“Oh, coffee goes in your mouth! Coffee goes in your mouth! Where does it go? In your mouth! That’s where the coffee goes!” Starting off with the dumbest genius in comic books, Flatman (who does not want to invite comparisons to Mr. Fantastic, thank you very much), Gorman lovingly skewers his protagonists with a combination of bizarre quirks and sharp self-awareness. Thanks to a legal loophole involving the Avengers trademark, Flatman and the GLA are reinstated and back in action, and let me tell you, they totally suck at it. Gorman devotes much of this issue to getting the band back together, with some funny gags like Doorman commenting on an “invisible line” between a clean set of buildings and a graffitied, unkempt set of buildings literally across the street, or Big Bertha commenting that “it’s 2016,” and maybe people should stop trying to body-shame her into shrinking already. Gorman’s comedy isn’t quite as subversive or sharp as, say, Nick Spencer’s, but it’s just the right balance between dumb and amusing that fits Great Lakes Avengers perfectly.
While Gorman provides a strong showing with his characters’ comedic dialogue, it’s artist Will Robson who sells the humor even further. Sure, we know the artifice behind Great Lakes Avengers as a title, but it’s thanks to Robson that the characters certainly don’t seem to know, as his cartoony style delivers the glassy-eyed, idiotic enthusiasm of Flatman, or the eye-rolling irritation of the lawyer who has to - reluctantly, I might add - reinstate the GLA as a permanent offshoot of the Avengers. Robson’s style, in many ways, feels similar to Nick Bradshaw’s, only with a bit more of a rubbery expressiveness that works well in a comedy setting - even nonhuman characters like Firebrand or Pitchfork (“Fork me!” he says, when he’s confronted with a superhero way out of his meager weight class) have some great personality that’ll take Great Lakes Avengers much further than you might expect.
And what’s great about a title like Great Lakes Avengers is, yes, you will (and should) be looking into this book with the lowest of expectations, which winds up becoming a pleasant surprise since that lets you skim past the book’s only minor structural issues. Sure, as a plot things don’t quite pick up beyond three-quarters of the team coming back together, but you can’t deny that these idiots aren’t super-funny. While Tony Stark might ignore them as wide-eyed cosplayers, and Steve Rogers might not consider them part of “his” America, there’s something refreshing and endearing about Great Lakes Avengers. I can’t tell you what that is, but I can tell you that you should pick this book up.