In many ways, “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #2 isn’t all-new or all-different. It’s the typical “Avengers are re-forming” story: some old faces get paired up with a few younger, newer heroes and eventually complete the latest iteration of Marvel’s premiere super-team. That said, there is one element that does stand out here: Ms. Marvel versus Nova.
The bulk of the story is pretty simple; an alien named Warbringer is trying to find pieces of an all-powerful artifact, while Iron Man, Vision, Spider-Man and Captain America try and stop him. Even as Thor, Ms. Marvel and Nova get drawn into the conflict, a third party is using his own abilities to continually give Warbringer an edge over the heroes. Waid’s at his best when it comes to the dialogue; characters have a fun sense of humor, but it’s not overly jokey or silly. They sound like people, not just generic superheroes.
On the other hand, Warbringer is about as generic a supervillain as one can get. Even his basic motivation — revenge on Nova for throwing him into a sun — feels a little tired. There’s nothing about Warbringer that stands out; not his actions, not his dialogue, not his overall reason for being in this story save that it’s a convenient way to draw Nova into the conflict. If “All-New, All-Different Avengers” #2 depended on Warbringer, this comic would be in trouble.
Fortunately there’s an ace up this comic’s sleeve, and it’s Ms. Marvel versus Nova. Ms. Marvel’s continual frustration with Nova as parts of Jersey City are randomly and thoughtlessly destroyed as he fights Warbringer is the real high point; to her, this isn’t a random, faceless group of buildings, but rather her home. I love that she calls Nova out on his bad decisions and really worries about more than just stopping the big bad alien. To be fair, this is at the expense of Nova as a character somewhat; he’s coming across far more brash and thoughtless than we’ve seen in his own series. It’s so much fun, though, that I’m willing to give Waid this slight exaggeration of Nova’s character traits.
Kubert’s art is solid and dependable. From Ms. Marvel yelling at Nov to characters zooming through the air, everyone is expressive and fun. When Thor shows up, it is wonderfully dramatic, and similarly Kubert does a good job of the archetypal moment where Vision’s cap is flapping in the air as he first descends towards Iron Man and Spider-Man. It’s not crazy flashy art, but it doesn’t need to be; this is classic heroics on the page.
“All-New, All-Different Avengers” #2 is riding on characterization rather than plotting, and — for the moment — the characterization is strong enough that it’s a good call. Eventually, it will need to find a better balance, but I’m willing to let that slide because this is such an oft-repeated moment of the Avengers re-forming in the face of disaster. For now, it’s a pleasant continuation of the series and the tradition.