It seems that someone at Marvel has finally noticed that the Avengers franchise now has as many characters and books as the X-Men line, and that the X-anthologies have been doing quite well recently. Thus: “I Am An Avenger” #1, which follows hot on the heels of the rather-similar “Age of Heroes” anthology.
While the X-Men ones have typically been based around whatever meta-arc the books are going through at the time, “I Am An Avenger” has chosen to theme itself more around the quandary “What makes an Avenger?,” though it’s fair to say that two of them don’t really address the question, which means the entire enterprise has set off on sort of the wrong foot. I can understand playing fast and loose with an anthology’s content; What I can’t understand is setting an objective for the series, then ignoring it completely.
The Iron First story is probably the issue’s high point, providing a coda of sorts to Iron Fist’s series as he moves out of his apartment with Misty Knight. As a reader, it’s the sort of story I want to see, covering the sort of plot points I want to see addressed in a shared universe where Iron Fist and Misty Knight are free to turn up in other titles. It’s the perfect story to have in an anthology, since it would fit nowhere else.
The Squirrel Girl piece is cutesy and minimalist, but as someone who never quite got Squirrel Girl as a character, I’m not sure what to make of it. There’s no payoff to the joke here. As for the Pet Avengers, the same applies. I assume the concept has its fans, but I can’t help mentally filing it alongside Marvel Apes and Hit-Monkey as Marvel properties I have literally no interest in reading. They might be brilliant, but the high concept doesn’t appeal to me, and that’s the problem here.
The Young Avengers short is also at the higher end of the quality spectrum, as Jim McCann’s work frequently is, and it also does the same kind of continuity clean-up that the Iron First short does, in having Hawkeye and Young Hawkeye figure out who gets to keep the name. As with all Young Avengers appearances, it can’t help being a bit confusing with regards to the team’s actual status, but it’s always nice to see the characters whenever they turn up.
That an anthology title has turned out to be a mixed bag should surprise no-one. The fact that it had two pieces I enjoyed makes it above average, even if there were two that I was massively indifferent to alongside it. I’d recommend the book for Young Avengers and Iron Fist fans, or people who love Marvel’s wackier, more joke-y concepts. And if you find yourself in both of those groups, then good news: Marvel just put out the perfect book for you. The rest of us might do better to wait for the issue to hit the clearance basket.