This issue is a slow start to the bright future of the Avengers franchise, but when you’re pitching a half dozen new characters in front of readers, speed isn’t going to help any. Add in some of the less well-known, but established, Avengers and suddenly there’s a dozen characters to try to balance out. The recruits have been rescued from the clutches of Norman Osborn, who either triggered their powers or imposed powers upon these teens.
The overall story is excessively wordy, with more word balloons explaining the action and interaction than straight-up action scenes. All of this is necessary as the concept for this series has to be established somewhere. Gage sets the table quite nicely, using Henry Pym as the mouthpiece to define the academy. I just hope next issue gives us a little more action.
Mike McKone is a masterful artist who handles a wide range of characters and settings to great effect. McKone draws Maddy Berry’s high school dilemma and Hazmat’s explosion with equal aplomb. Speedball carries himself differently than Reptil does. Quicksilver looks like a man that has run to hell and back many times over. That said, between McKone’s drawing of Pietro in the current day and the one panel highlighting Quicksilver with his sister and father, I’m hoping to see more of the Maximoffs in this book under McKone’s pencil.
Jeromy Cox’s colors are a sea of superheroic hues spanning the color wheel, but hitting the brightest, loudest points. There are greens and reds and yellows aplenty in this book, even in scenes that would have traditionally been depicted as sterile and metallic, like the hallways and command centers of Infinite Avengers Mansion.
The designs for the new characters aren’t exactly inspired, but they are less hokey than an archer stomping around in a purple costume, or a tiger-lady strutting around wearing only a bikini. Hazmat’s costume seems more than a little similar to Sunfire from McKone’s run on “Exiles.” Mettle is just odd looking. Veil looks like she’s wearing a Halloween bondage costume. Striker and Finesse have the most striking visuals, but their costumes are two-toned and essentially black and white. Just looking at this team doesn’t put thoughts of the Avengers in my head, but three years ago, “Avengers Initiative” seemed less than half-baked as well.
Gage throws a shocker at us at the end of this issue, but it doesn’t hit with the same level of impact as, say the reveal from the final page of the first “Thunderbolts” issue. It’s a surprise, to be certain, and one that is sure to change the course of this cast.
This is a fine addition to the Heroic Age, but it’s not the most memorable comic of the bunch by any means. There’s a half dozen new characters here that will surely be someone’s favorites someday, but for now, they’re just being introduced. Where they go from here defines how successful this first issue truly is.