Sporting the Marvel Comics’ version of “The Avengers” movie cast, “Avengers Assemble” #3 has momentum on its side, if nothing else. The team inside the covers is going to need a boost of that movie momentum as they battle against the combined might of an amped-up Zodiac.
Outnumbered and seemingly over-powered, the Avengers do what they do best: they keep fighting and never give up. Unfortunately, Brian Michael Bendis’ plot doesn’t go a whole lot deeper than that. Neither does the character development. The six Avengers assembled here are shadows of the same characters in other books. The most interesting part of the story is Hulk fighting with Leo. There’s not a lot of dialog in that scene, but there is a lot of punching and even more over the top sound effects.
Mark Bagley’s art is serviceable and quaint, but not impressive. With a large amount of backgrounds left open for Clayton Cowles’ sound effects or Paul Mounts’ colors and patterns, Bagley is able to pour all of his work into the characters. This issue gives them each a chance to shine, but Hulk, Thor and Black Widow get the most attention, including a painfully awkward crawling pose Bagley drops on Widow that makes the Russian superspy appear to have, literally, a bubble on her behind.
Regarding the other characters, Bagley’s Zodiac designs range from inspired to questionable and he clearly has more fun with specific characters, Zodiac and Avenger alike. The previously mentioned Hulk scenes are more visually impactful and the character is more unique in appearance than the rest of the cast assembled in this comic book. Being outnumbered and outgunned, the Avengers fight and fight some more, filling this book with fisticuffs and all other manner of skirmish. That fighting does help the book move along quickly.
The end of this third issue of “Avengers Assemble” delivers a cliffhanger and a wild moment that will surely have fans talking nearly as much as the final after-credits scene at the end of the movie. That certainly gives the story a massive swing in momentum, but the path to get there limps along considerably. While this book certainly does have the star power and momentum going for it, momentum rarely writes a good story. Even with the final page, this issue doesn’t forge strong impressions or beckon readers to hurry back, but it does nicely present the secret threat behind the story to this point.