The biggest crime of “Avengers Assemble” #10 is that it wasn’t published as “Avengers Assemble” #2; in other words, that the numbering didn’t start over last month when Kelly Sue DeConnick and Stefano Caselli took over the title. With so many other “Avengers” comics starting over with a new #1, I’m afraid this comic might get overlooked, and that would be a shame because it’s a thoroughly fun comic.
What’s impressive is that after a light, slightly jokey first chapter last month, DeConnick is able to shift “Avengers Assemble” #10 into a more serious vein now that the bodies are starting to pile up, but without losing sight of the fun dialogue and overall sense that these are people who genuinely like being around each other. Take, for example, the scenes with Captain Marvel and Captain America. They’re tracking down a villain who might be responsible for the deaths of people at an Antarctic research base. The mood is a little grim, but at the same time we get little dialogue bits of joy like, “I do love Plan B,” and, “Will you please sit down and strap in?” It not only makes the book more enjoyable, but it makes these characters sound like real people; they’re not just reciting speeches at one another, but having little bits of snark and humor and even annoyance slipping into their words.
Captain America’s fight at 10,000 feet is probably one of the best parts of the comic. Not just because of the amounts of daring that DeConnick and Caselli show us, but the way that everything unfolds. Characters act and react, things get changed up at a moment’s notice, and we’ve even got a villain who is able to temporarily defeat the hero through the sort of threat that we should be seeing dangled out there a little more often. It’s a nasty sudden turn, another reminder that this isn’t all fun and games.
In general, though, this grouping of characters works well. Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor of course have a lot of history together, but the old and new additions to the team end up with a surprising good sense of balance. I like the Spider-Woman and Hulk dynamic that’s being worked on, and the Iron Man and Hulk bonding over scientific ideas was one of the best parts of “The Avengers” film so it’s great to see it being used here too. And as mentioned before, Captain Marvel and Captain America’s scenes together are fun even in dark moments; this is a group of characters that feels like they should be a team because they mesh well, not because they were names drawn out of a hat.
Caselli’s art was always good on “Secret Warriors” but I feel like he’s taken his skills up a notch since then. Bruce Banner fighting off the invader in his body is full of body language that helps bring across the idea of how painful this process is, for instance; the squinting eyes, the bulging veins, the drips of sweat all show the reader in a way that a script alone wouldn’t convey. Even something as simple as hordes of bad guys piling out of a plane looks sharp; Caselli makes them look like people as they’re getting flung through the air, and I love the way he draws them all clutching to the quinjet. Add in a strong collaboration with color artist Rain Beredo and you end up with a comic that just grabs you on a visual sense.
“Avengers Assemble” #10 (as well as #9 before it) has been a pleasant and rewarding surprise. There are a lot of “Avengers” titles right now, but make sure that you don’t miss “Avengers Assemble” in the mix. “Avengers Assemble” has become a must-read superhero comic; all comics should be this much fun.