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All-New, All-Different Avengers #1

by  in Comic Reviews Comment
All-New, All-Different Avengers #1

Mark Waid takes an all-new, all-different approach to “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #1 by leading off with a pair of new and different stories. “Assemble!”, illustrated by Adam Kubert, features the all-new Captain America (now Sam Wilson), a different Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and a mostly-the-same Iron Man (still Tony Stark) in what shapes up to be the dawning of the team’s latest incarnation. Drawn by Mahmud Asrar, “You’re A Jerk!” features the very first and hilariously awkward meeting between the all-new Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) and all-new Nova (Sam Alexander). Both stories carry a lighthearted wit that makes this newest “Avengers” comic both the most entertaining and most faithful among the franchise’s current entries.

In classic Stan Lee and Jack Kirby tradition, Waid brings the team together organically in the first half of the issue; Cap’s tough circumstances (seen in Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna’s “Sam Wilson, Captain America”) are in full play here, and Tony’s cockiness seems straight out of the pages of Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s “Invincible Iron Man.” The consistency of characterization is a refreshing effort Waid’s part, as he respects the events of the characters’ main titles while still bringing his own skill and style to the issue. The team hasn’t been formed yet; in fact, some of the characters have yet to appear, but Waid successfully establishes a threat that no single superhero can withstand.

Kubert gives the opening sequence a cinematic quality, as Captain America descends from the skies and once again demonstrates how he’s a life-saving superhero, even though his efforts go unappreciated by some. Kubert goes for unapologetic and over-the-top thrills, with a series of vertical panels that evoke a big budget film but also make it look as though Sam just might have decapitated an entire family with his shield, before showing otherwise in the very next panel. It’s the kind of momentary disbelief that can easily be suspended, as it’s a small part of a much larger story, and Kubert nicely paces this opening as well as the subsequent wind-down and interaction between Sam and Tony.

Waid also brings a youthful kind of energy to the second feature, where Kamala and Sam find themselves working together to stop a threat despite their best efforts to operate separately. Both emerge as heroes, but this is secondary to the most obvious observation: they are just a pair of kids, who — through circumstance — find themselves thrown together and have no idea how to interact with one another. The hilariously painful dynamic is what makes Waid’s story so wonderful; it’s hard not to like these two kids, who save the day yet still carry an unenviable amount of discomfort in each other’s presence. Through brilliantly scripted dual narration, Waid evokes a sense of tension that not only carries the sequence but also establishes these two characters for traditional Avengers readers who might not be familiar with them.

Asrar’s touch gives this story a much lighter and less serious vibe than the first; there’s no mistaking that Ms. Marvel and Nova are teenagers, but there’s also no doubt they’re bona-fide superheroes, too. Asrar gives both a wide-eyed characteristic that conveys youth and innocence, but without diminishing or being dismissive of their characters. A later sequence, where the two heroes try and break the ice, is a brilliant superhero parallel to a romantic relationship between a couple, where a move or simple statement made with purest intent can backfire if not reciprocated, and Asrar captures that achingly painful moment with genuine emotion.

The standard cover by Alex Ross is one of his typically beautiful trademark gatherings of imposing-looking heroes, although not all of them make it inside the issue. Thanks to Waid’s careful attention to characterization and both Kubert and Asrar’s ability to elicit a range of emotions in readers, “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #1 makes itself out to be the strongest and most enjoyable of the relaunched Avengers titles.