Picking up almost immediately after the “New Avengers” story that introduced Nick Fury’s heretofore unknown ‘Avengers,’ “Avengers 1959” #1 features Howard Chaykin writing and drawing the comic and — do I even need to continue the review? Chaykin writing and drawing this book is the reason why most are either interested in it or avoiding it. The legendary artist’s recent mainstream revival has produced work that has split readers on its merits. What’s hard to deny is that “Avengers 1959” is a project that suits Chaykin perfectly. With the original concept stemming from him, it only makes sense for him to handle the follow-up mini-series.
This first issue is more a bridge between the “New Avengers” story where Nick Fury and his Avengers (made up of the likes of Sabretooth, Kraven, Namora, and others) fought against the Red Skull and his continued attempts to further the Nazi agenda and the plot of this mini, which seems to feature Hydra. Moving from the Red Skull and Nazis to Hydra is a logical progression, especially as the ‘birth’ of the Marvel Universe comes ever closer for the characters.
After the group disbands, the members are all attacked by what appears to be Hydra agents, though only one is seen in the green and yellow jumpsuit. In showing the attacks, Chaykin tells something about the characters: Nick Fury is attacked by someone posing as a prostitute, Kraven and Namora are attacked aboard their boat, Dominic Fortune is flying a plane with a romantic companion when attacked, while Sabretooth finds that the driver who picked him up while hitchhiking is actually a werewolf. There’s a nice variation to the methods and locations, and to the way that each character responds. Most fight, but it’s revealing that Fortune tosses his lady friend out of the plane (with a parachute) and then bails himself.
Chaykin also varies the visuals for the attacks. Fury’s fight with the faux prostitute is done in a very grid-like manner with a consistent perspective and step-by-step progression. The Dominic Fortune air strike is filled with quick cuts and hard close-ups to convey the speed and chaos of what’s going on. His line work captures the characters and the time they’re living in. That Chaykin’s style looks a little out of touch with contemporary art helps.
The coloring, though, does not. It’s so slick and shiny that it actively works against Chaykin’s art and the time this comic is taking place in. A more toned down, basic approach would have been more fitting. The coloring in this issue is garish and ill-fitting.
“Avengers 1959” #1 delivers on everything that fans of Howard Chaykin would want: a simple, straight forward story with fantastic storytelling and line work. When the 1959 Avengers team showed up in “New Avengers,” the idea was too good to let rest and, thankfully, Marvel thought so, too.