Picking up where the last issue left off, the smaller groups of the specially assembled squad of Avengers are each reeling from the attacks set upon them by writer Al Ewing and artist Alan Davis in "New Avengers: Ultron Forever" #1.
Ewing first checks in with the three Thors (more than once referring to themselves as the Thors Three) battling upon the Bifrost: one Thor is possessed by Ultron, who sits upon Odin's throne, wielding the power of the Asgardian All-Father. That Thor faces both the Odinson and the female wielder of Mjolnir, although the latter is from a point in time that is nebulous but in the future. Ewing underscores the differences between the three Thors, raises the stakes of the battle and brings a worthy, satisfying conclusion to this skirmish before checking into the other fights that fill out the issue.
Ewing has fun with the cast and the trials set against them. He nurtures the unsteady alliances between the Avengers and gives each motivation to win their battles. Through it all, Ewing reminds readers that the mystery of Doctor Doom and his machinations against Ultron lurks in the shadows as he watches the Avengers and evaluates their mission performances. Vision from "Uncanny Avengers" joins James Rhodes' Iron Man, while Black Widow, early Hulk and Captain America (Danielle Cage from the future) handle another assignment. Treating readers to Silver Age super team splits, Ewing packs each segment with action and gives readers plenty of room to enjoy their favorite Avengers.
Alan Davis' art is without compare, as he flawlessly blends Avengers from across Marvel's fifty year publishing history. The cast isn't as boundless as other Avengers' stories, such as "Avengers Forever" or even the Jim Shooter era team. The point here is that the original, brutish Hulk works alongside the sleek, overly-designed Vision, Black Widow battles strongly with Captain America by her side and Doctor Doom looks as menacing as ever. Mark Farmer's inks, as always, are tight and solid throughout. Davis and Farmer should always work together, and the issue is further evidence of that claim. Readers need look no farther than the first scene to see how effective and efficient colorist Rachelle Rosenberg is. She commits bold colors to each of the three Thors, but there are subtle differences to each, separating them as they stand shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to bring the thunder.
My biggest gripe with "New Avengers: Ultron Forever" #1 lies with the lettering. While Travis Lanham does a spectacular job, particularly as different versions of characters (Vision versus Vision, in particular) confront their past/future selves, his sound effects suffer. The outline-only sound effects are effective in preserving the beauty and vitality of Davis' art and Rosenberg's coloring, but they lose their impact without color and depth to lock them down.
The story in "New Avengers: Ultron Forever" #1 doesn't pack too many surprises, especially with the small cast locked into this series, but it does present a fun, timeless adventure. With one more installment in this saga remaining, set to fly under the title "Uncanny Avengers: Ultron Forever," this patchwork team has their work cut out for them. Thankfully, for them and for the readers, Al Ewing and Alan Davis bring plenty of fun to this adventure.