Mark Waid is a writer who likes to defy the conventions of writing comic books in the modern era, and this third issue of All-New All-Different Avengers proves that quite handily. The series has gotten better with each passing issue, and ends the first major storyline for the new team of Avengers with this, only the third issue. It says something about the current state of comic books when I’m legitimately surprised by the fact that in a high-profile launch of a new team book, the first story concludes after only three issues.
I’ve struggled since reading this issue, and then rereading the first arc in its entirety, with putting my finger on just what makes this first arc successful and enjoyable. It definitely ends up reading like a different kind of Avengers book, which is saying something in a period where each of the different Avengers titles possesses a unique sense of identity (something which I think was lacking a few years ago, when we first saw a proliferation of Avengers-titled comics). In many ways, this is the flagship Avengers book, as it’s the team with the biggest names, the most classic stable of characters, and the clearest, most classic mission. Yet in all these ways, although it checks off those respective boxes, it manages to do so after a fashion, not quite like we’ve seen in the past.
What makes this issue and the arc succeed is how Mark Waid took his time with the first issue, jumped in and ratcheted up the action with the second issue, and actually concluded the story in this issue. We got well-formed characterization in this issue, set-up towards potential future threats, the nascent team finally coming together, and a better sense of just what this book is going to be.
Because of how long the Avengers franchise has been around, we as readers have gotten used to seeing it as this big polished machine, especially after the prior run of Avengers by Hickman, which actually was structured as the Avengers machine. It felt like everyone was an Avenger, and part of this large infrastructure, of which you had Iron Man and Captain America at its core nucleus. Now, in the wake of Secret Wars, we don’t have a proper Avengers unit anymore.
Sunspot has taken AIM and fashioned it into a new style of Avengers-related team, but they operate over on their own on New Avengers, and are distinctly not the classic Avengers in how we know them. Steve Rogers has fashioned his “Unity Squad Avengers” in Uncanny Avengers, which remain their own unit focused on preserving equality and unity among super-powered peoples. And then there’s this book, the one which attempts to forge a new legacy, taking newer characters, who are untrained, and bringing them together under an Avengers banner. A few years ago, we might have called this the Avengers Academy, but as a proper Avengers title it legitimizes this team more than the Avengers Academy characters ever received.
This unpolished group of heroes, learning to operate as a new team of Avengers, is compelling and fun to read about, because of how deftly Mark Waid handles the characterization. Each character has a distinct flavour and identity which comes through the page. No one is at a stage in their careers where they’re supremely confident in themselves, in fact I would say that this is a team of characters learning how to be confident as a heroes. Whether it’s Iron Man trying to rebuild who he was in the wake of everything from before Secret Wars, Vision having deleted part of his old persona, Sam Wilson getting used to being Captain America, or Jane Foster learning how to be Thor and deal with other superheroes, everyone is learning and failing in equal measure, which is part of what makes this such an enjoyable read. There’s a greater sense of stakes actually being raised, because of each character’s inexperience and struggle with their own fallibility.
Even with this being the close of the first initial adventure of this team, in classic old-school Marvel fashion, Mark Waid lays seeds for future developments. Whether it be the true identity of who purchased Avengers Tower, just what was going on with Warbringer, what exactly is up with Vision and Nova after the last page, plus the ongoing interpersonal dynamics of the youngest members of this team, it makes me want to read the next issue right away, which is the true mark of a good comic book. If it makes you legitimately want to pick up the next issue to see just what happens next to these characters you’re enjoying reading about, it’s a successful comic, and has achieved its purpose of hooking you in for the long run.
The artwork by Adam Kubert is still quite enjoyable in this third issue, and it feels as if he’s starting to get more comfortable with some of these characters the more that he draws them (which is natural). What impresses me most is how he sells the quieter moments of the issue, particularly when Iron Man is asking the other members if they would like to become Avengers. The facial expressions on Ms. Marvel help sell the earnestness of the dialogue, and feel quite natural. The panel layout is solid and easy to understand, and again underlines the more classic nature of this book, as the “real” Avengers squad to follow these days. The other two Avengers books are far more stylized in the artwork department, yet there’s a more classic Marvel-style look to the characters that is found in this series, and in this issue in particular.
With each issue this series has become more enjoyable and entertaining. There’s a true sense of fun and excitement present in the script, as Mark Waid delves into telling quality stories with a disparate yet fun cast of characters. The names are all familiar, but in many ways it’s like he’s telling an Avengers story with new characters under the familiar names, which is for all intents and purposes exactly what’s happening. This book has a winning and enjoyable style, and I cannot wait for the fourth issue to see what happens next.