Written by Mark Waid
Art by Mike del Mundo and Marco D’Alfonso
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
This season of Mark Waid’s Avengers spins directly out of his previous one to dizzying effect. While it might not be the most new reader-friendly book on the stands, it’s certainly one of the most ambitious and strange takes we’ve had on the Avengers in recent years. Going hand-in-hand with Waid’s unorthodox approach, the writer has been paired with an otherworldly talent in artist Mike del Mundo. The plotting does slow down to better help readers understand what’s at stake, but it’s still a little dense. However, readers that can weather some of the time travel jargon are in for a treat.
While time travel events can always get a bit convoluted, they’re kind of secondary to the really good work that Waid does in this book, as the Avengers struggle to defeat Kang the Conqueror - despite being trapped in the confines of Limbo, with their infant selves wiped out by the rampaging time traveler. Yet this premise showcases Waid’s greatest strengths: his character work and team dynamics.
There’s a lot at stake in this book but there’s a lot of joy, too - so while the fate of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes absolutely hangs in the balance, there’s no stopping lighter moments from Hercules or quips from Spider-Man. That’s what’s in their DNA, and their inclusion on the team is to provide that levity to stand against Kang’s seemingly endless pontificating.
Mike del Mundo is a big reason that Waid is able to blend the action and heroics with the humor so well. While del Mundo tends to work in a fairly realistic, painted style, he’s still adept at pulling out some expert cartooning when necessary. This might be an exaggerated expression to help sell a line or moment. But it might also be distorted limbs to help sell the action in a panel. Del Mundo works in deference to the needs of the script and does what’s best for the story. But in doing that, he still pushes the envelope providing angles and perspectives within his pages that rarely pulled off as well by other artists. (My big example of this one is the Vision plucking a shrunken Wasp out of the sky.)
That said, there are a few moments where some of the coloring gets a little muddy in the action sequences - for example, the heroes on this Avengers squad are not too different in color scheme from the three Kangs that appear, causing some confusion while your eyes adjust to the page, but overall that effect is minimal.
Avengers is going big with its story while still maintaining the heart of Marvel Comics: the humanity of its characters. There’s a lot of fun to be had with something that feels this larger than life and is still told without changing what makes these characters great. Marvel would be wise to pay attention to what’s happening with this book the next time they plan a big event. You can have big, weird stories that take some effort to fully grasp if the characters within them are written well. Avengers is one of the better books in this post-Civil War II iteration of the Marvel U because it doesn’t force you to accept anything about the characters themselves that don’t hold true elsewhere, it only asks you to come along for a ride. That’s the whimsy that corporate comics are, sadly, usually missing.