"Avengers Assemble Annual" #1 from Christos Gage and Tomm Coker is a surprisingly touching and emotionally charged issue. The story centers on the Vision and how he sees himself and his environment after being off the playing field for quite some time. Gage and Coker work well together to paint a portrait of this synthezoid and what makes him tick. As a character study, this issue is fantastic.
The greatest asset of the annual is Tomm Coker's art. He brings a level of serious and real storytelling to the page that helps readers understand the emotional journey of the Vision as a sober quest and not just some throwaway tale. Coker's Vision looks aged and concerned. His white eyes might be blank, but Coker constructs them in a face that tells a thousand words. The script and art come together to honestly present a transformative turning point for the Avenger. Coker's art ensures that this issue is taken seriously.
There are many artists credited alongside Coker within the issue: Mike Mayhew, Mike Deodato, Luke Ross, Valentine De Landro -- and while the transitions between artists are noticeable, on the whole they do their best to fit into the main style. There are moments where Coker's panel layouts don't work, Iron Man often comes off as stiff and the characters look slapped on the background, but these moments are few enough to not be a problem. The action of the Sunturion battles and chases are relatively simplified, and by the end it isn't the battle, but rather what it represents, that matters. The surface narrative is fine, but the actual heart of the story will likely resonate as a major turning point for the character.
Gage's script is punchy and yet poignant. Gage crafts great staccato moments between gatherings of team members followed by more down-to-earth moments of soul searching between random pairings. The choice of the Sunturion as the villain is a smart move, which represents Gage's thematic decision to pit the Vision against a distorted version of himself. It's an effective way to analyze the hero and push for a change.
"Avengers Assemble Annual" #1 is a tidy character piece that's gorgeously presented by Tomm Coker and a giant art team. There's a fine line between soul-searching narrative and smash-'em-up action that makes this comic deliver in many ways. Vision fans will be incredibly happy with how Gage and Coker construct this story.