Al Ewing and Greg Land’s highly anticipated “Mighty Avengers” roars onto the comic scene with an action-packed first issue that bursts with high-flying fun. Ewing brings the book to life through his clear characterizations and organic character relationships, highlighting the most important feature of any Avengers book: teamwork. Although the issue suffers from expressionless art and its obligatory tie-in plotlines to “Infinity,” the book brings with it an immense amount of potential through its chosen protagonists.
The story’s focus volleys largely between Luke Cage and Monica Rambeau’s separate situations, with others — like Power Man, the Superior Spider-Man, and White Tiger — on the peripherals. Since the issue serves as an introduction for the team, this device works wonderfully by using its established characters to build a foundation for these lesser-known or newer characters. Likewise, Ewing casually slips in little hints of exposition through dialogue, like White Tiger’s conversation with Spider-Man, which incorporates character relationships into the story in a fluid, natural way. This tactic becomes especially effective with Luke Cage as he discusses his past and motivations with the new Power Man, Victor Alvarez; they share a tense but poignant moment that serves not only as a parallel for Luke’s childhood but to highlight Luke’s character development over the decades while maintaining his traditionally quick-witted voice. This way, the book welcomes new and old readers alike through its subtle exposition and development.
However, the book also spends a large chunk of plot focused on the events of “Infinity.” Although we spend a decent amount of the story with Luke and his team, a good third of the issue oscillates from New York to Thanos’ minions and their incoming attack. Thanos, Proxima Midnight, and the Ebony Maw even get a fair amount of dialogue, but their speech is clunky and unnatural compared to other “Infinity” stories so far; Ewing clearly wasn’t as comfortable with these galactic characters as he was with his Avengers. What’s more, the forced “Infinity” scenes jarringly appear with little or no transition, ultimately taking the reader out of the story. The book, designed as an introduction for the team, would have done much better on its own merit and it suffers for having its first issue released as a tie-in to another event.
Unfortunately, the artwork on the issue is standard Greg Land: bland, emotionless and sexed up. Panel backgrounds feel empty and lack detail; characters possess only one or two facial expressions, even for its strong, emotional dialogue. What’s worse, just about every female character — extras or otherwise — looks like a pinup caricature of herself, twisted into bizarre positions or accentuating impossible anatomy. Even background characters can’t escape: a panel focused on Luke and Vic visiting a cafe on a sunny afternoon features a woman wearing only jeans and a bra in the foreground. The art’s only saving grace rests in the layout, which takes on slanted panels that utilize every inch of space for bright, colorful action.
“Mighty Avengers” #1 was placed at a great disadvantage when it was assigned as an “Infinity” tie-in with Land on art. However, Ewing manages to rise above this with his fantastic character work; in the first issue alone, he establishes an interesting dynamic between his new “team,” regardless of their dysfunctions. Bursting with potential, “Mighty Avengers” is a book to keep an eye on, especially once it’s free of the “Infinity” event.